The Chinese Dream: Original Architecture Not Included

Western-styled developments are increasingly popular in China, such as this suburb of Shanghai. Image © Flickr CC User Brian Yap

Looking for your dream home? Picket fence, driveway (sedan included), basketball net, and terracotta pots complete with flowers in bloom, available now in the quiet neighbourhood of Rancho Santa Fe in Shanghai, China. According to this article in The Guardian, ”The Chinese Dream” is currently sweeping the People’s Republic, with Western planning models replicated with identical ineffective results. The article offers an intimate insight into the role of American architectural fetishism in modern China, and how the government is now fighting to curb the trend. Read the complete article here.

Rome Invites Ideas For Reuse of Europe’s Biggest Landfill Site

A major competition for reuse has just been announced for the Malagrotta Landfill, one of the European Union’s biggest landfill sites. After Malagrotta was closed in August 2013 due to its controversial size and negative impact on the surrounding community, the Municipality of Rome began a process of redevelopment through community engagement. Multi-displinary teams are tasked with a creating a proposal to reinvent the sprawling 240-hectare property while considering its original purpose. The competition is designed to begin a conversation on the long-term vision for the property.

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Frank Gehry’s “Haute Couture” Art Gallery for the Fondation Louis Vuitton

The Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne is set to open this fall. Image © victortsu via Flickr

Because of – rather than in spite of - Frank Gehry‘s seeming inability to design something rectilinear, CEO of Louis Vuitton Bernard Arnault specifically sought him out to design the Fondation Louis Vuitton, a private art gallery in Paris. Arnault asked Gehry to create something worthy of the foundation’s first artistic act; “a haute couture building.” The resulting glass palace is immediately recognizable as a design, with a form that conjures images of sailboats and fish. In this article for Vanity Fair, Critic Paul Goldberger considers the building within the prestigious history of museums, and within Gehry’s larger body of work. Click here to read the story.

Self Build Association and Grand Designs Live Launches Open Ideas Competition

Courtesy of National Custom and Self Build Association

Is it possible to build low cost homes in the city that are both sustainable and easy on the eyes? Self Build on a Shoestring in the City, organized by the National Custom & Self Build Association and Grand Designs Live, is an ideas competition in its second year that seeks to answer this question by showcasing innovative designs for a group self build project in an urban location. More details after the break.

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Prisoners Designing Prisons: Restorative Justice in Action

Courtesy of CLOG

The design of prisons is a controversial topic for architects, but Deanna VanBuren takes a novel approach to the subject. Designing for a judicial system that advocates “restorative justice,” VanBuren works with felons, victims, and other architects to create spaces where everyone can undergo a healing process following a crime. In a recent profile, the L.A. Times documents one of her design workshops with prisoners, demonstrating how this form of outreach can change the lives of those inside. Read the full story here. Also, be sure to check out our interview with Deanna VanBuren here!

Zaha Hadid to Receive Honoray Degree from Goldsmiths College

© Simone Cecchetti

Zaha Hadid will be awarded an honorary degree and fellowship from College, at the University of London, during the college’s graduation ceremony in September. Hadid was chosen because of her “inventive approach, and eagerness to challenge conventions which have pushed the boundaries of architecture and urban design,” Architects’ Journal (AJ) reported.

Among Hadid’s work in London is the  Aquatics centre for the 2012 London Olympics, which has been shortlisted for the 2014 Stirling Prize, which recognizes a building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year.  was also behind the design for London’s Roca Gallery and was selected to develop plans for a new airport in London.

Hadid is one of six other creative professionals receiving honorary degrees from Goldsmiths College.

Visiting Gunārs Birkerts’s Latvian “Castle of Light”

National Library of Latvia, Riga

For an article featured in Blueprint Herbert Wright examines Riga’s new National Library of Latvia, completed by 89-year-old Gunārs Birkerts this month. Located in one of Latvia’s most historic urban settings, the library – locally known as the “Castle of Light” – challenges the city’s recent history of Soviet public architecture with a contemporary, if not as equally monumental, cultural edifice. Initially conceived in 1988 now, over twenty five years later, the structure stands as a €163million testament to Latvia’s rich academic and public cultural heritage. Earlier this year, “14,000 Latvians formed a 2km human chain to pass books from the old to new libraries.” Wright’s exploration of this seminal building on Birkert’s œuvre is complemented by Janis Dripe’s excellent photographic studies of what is certain to be one of the most important Eastern European buildings of this decade.

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Archifest 2014: Exploring CROWD In Singapore

Courtesy of and PLUS

Returning for its eighth year, Singapore’s annual premiere festival Archifest explores the concept of CROWD, and how it interacts with and becomes an integral aspect of architecture and urbanism. Hailed as a Festival of Ideas for the City, Archifest is a two week long gala focusing this year on the context of Collective Intelligence and Community Capital, and the intricate complexities and interconnectivity between both. The theme is based on the belief that it is “the human aspect of architecture that encourages, facilitates, and enhances the human quality to hold influence and create energy to the makeup of our city.”

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Homes You Cannot Live in: The New Cost of Architectural Antiques

The Farnsworth House by , 1951. Plano, Illinois. Image Courtesy of Blouin Art Info

What is the true value of architecture in today’s society? According to this article by Anna Katz, rare pieces of architectural history have recently soared in value. Katz discusses the booming world of architecture at auction, featuring pieces by Mies Van Der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright among others. The article gracefully compares some of the most important architecture of our time against current real estate prices, exploring the catalyst of rising values in architecture of the recent past, while deliberating on the pitfalls of owning a delicate piece of architecture history. Read the story in full on Blouin Art Info.

Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition 2014

Courtesy of KRob Memorial Delineation Competition

The 40th Annual Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition, the longest running architectural drawing competition, is now accepting submissions. Entries can be conceptual or final elevations, sections, perspectives, or renderings and may be produced digitally or by hand – or a combination of both.

Frank Ching, the acclaimed author and illustrator responsible for teaching countless students about basic architectural elements, principles, and relationships, is one of the three jurors this year. The jury panel will be attending the awards presentation and lecture, which will take place on Thursday, November 20th in Dallas. This event will be hosted by the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, who have been organizing the competition since 1974.

The competition is open to both students and professionals and there are $11,000 in prizes to be won. Entries are due Monday, October 27, 2014 at 5pm CST. For more details, click here.

Spotlight: Eliel & Eero Saarinen

© Exothermic

Perhaps the most famous father-son duo in the architectural world, Eliel and Eero Saarinen share more than just a last name. The two designers both left profound influences upon the where they did their work, both were awarded AIA Gold Medals, and, rather uncannily, both share the very same date of birth. But, when it comes to their architectural stylings, that’s where the comparisons end. Find out more about both after the break.

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Scottish Architects To Launch “Architects For Yes” Campaign in Edinburgh

The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh. Image © Dave Morris Photography

In advance of the Scottish Independence vote next month, a group of Edinburgh-based architects led by Alasdair Stephen of will launch an “Architects for Yes” campaign in support of independence. The campaign, which currently has backing from over 50 architects, states these architects’ belief that independence could be a way to “design a new, better .” More about the campaign and the launch ceremony after the break.

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Sefaira Announces Real-Time Daylight Visualisation Tool for AutoDesk Revit

Daylight Visualisation alongside . Image Courtesy of Sefaira

Sefaira, one of the leading software designers for high-performance building design, have recently announced a new real-time daylight analysis and visualisation tool which runs within Autodesk Revit, one of the most commonly used Building Information Modelling (BIM) enabled (Windows native) design packages. Sefaira for allows for early stage analysis, leading to “more informed design decisions based on multiple daylighting metrics.”

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Cities Need Big Changes to Become Bike Friendly

A bicyclist in Vancouver, Canada. Image © Flickr CC User Paul Krueger

A new study has found that cities need to make big infrastructural changes, rather than small ones, in order to become more bike friendly. As this article from Fast Company explains, small increases in bicycle usage lead to more accidents, which in turn makes others afraid to make the switch from driving to riding. However, the study found that heavy investment in cycling infrastructure brings an economic benefit to in the long run, largely thanks to savings from reduced healthcare costs. To learn about the long-term benefits of big biking investments, click here.

Influential Scottish Architect Andy MacMillan Dies Aged 85

Courtesy of RIAS

Professor Andy MacMillan, one of Scotland‘s most important post-war architects, died suddenly this weekend during this year’s Royal Incorporation of Architects in (RIAS) Andrew Doolan Awards visits. Macmillan was a professor at the Glasgow School of Art from 1973 to 1994, and a partner at Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966. More on MacMillan’s legacy after the break.

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A Future Without Slums: Too Good to be True?

© Denis De Mesmaeker

As the tide of urban migration sweeps across the developing world, cities experience an overpowering pressure to provide basic services such as electricity and sewage treatment to an enormous amount of people building illegal shacks on city outskirts. When they fail, the slum is born – but is it possible for a city to expand without ? In Hanoi, Vietnam, officials hope to answer this question, with a number of tactics that have led to a “culture of semi-legal construction.” Read this article in The Guardian to learn how  manages to curb slums and provide a basic standard of living to its poorest inhabitants.

“Expansion and Conflict”: 13th International Docomomo Conference 2014

Courtesy of Docomomo International

How has the advancement of the Modern Movement design ethos, through geo-political expansion from the Western world, challenged the cultural foundation and aesthetic heritage of Asia?

The 13th International Docomomo Conference, hosted in Asia for the first time, seeks to explore the powerful complexities of expansion and . Examining the effects of the expansion of a Eurocentric design philosophy into distinctly individual, pre-existing yet violently colonized cultures, the organization declares that “ is not necessarily a pejorative but…a challenge for the future.”

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Should China put Design Restrictions on New Developments?

Apartments in Shenzhen. Image © Neville Mars under a CC licence

China may be at a turning point in urban design: a recent article in Australian points out that over 50 million apartments in Chinese cities (about 22.5 percent) are unoccupied. This problem springs from the ongoing Chinese construction boom, prompted by developers looking to stimulate urban economic growth as quickly as possible. However, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects believes these empty apartments are a sign that buyers find them unsuited to their needs, and that China should begin to enforce good design principles on these rapidly-constructed complexes. Read the full article here.