Online application is now open for a competition to design a temporal sustainable theatre, to be built in Cardiff, as part of the World Stage Design 2013 festival. Open to students and emerging practitioners from across all related disciplines, the winning design will be built in the courtyard of the Anthony Hopkins Centre and will be used as a major venue to house performances, presentations and seminars during the World Stage Design 2013 festival. The deadline for submissions is March 15. For more information, please visit here.
mæ architects recently announced that they were selected to design a ‘split-site’ elderly housing and healthcare hub project in Lisson Grove, Central London. Intended for City West Homes, on behalf of Westminster City Council, the housing scheme, which will be designed to HAPPI recommendations (Housing for an Aging Population Panel for Innovation), will bring contemporary, socially-orientated architecture to a deprived community which is desperately in need of re-invigoration. Construction is due to start at the end of 2013 and will be completed in two phases. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
Organized by International Art Consultants (IAC) and supported by The Royal Photographic Society, the Architect’s Eye competition has been celebrating and encouraging architects’ passion for photography since 2007. Now, in its fourth edition, UK architects are challenged to submit photos into two distinct categories: Architecture and Place and Architecture and People. The former focuses solely on the aesthetics of the architecture and places it creates, while the latter explores and celebrates the interaction of people with the environments created by architects. There are no restrictions on which buildings qualify for the competition.
The winner in each category will receive a weekend break for two anywhere in the EU. There will also be Special Commendation prizes awarded at the judges’ discretion.
This article comes to us courtesy of author Jason Wee, an artist, curator, and writer who directs Grey Projects in Singapore. It originally appeared in the Perspectives section of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative Online Platform on January 14th, 2013.
In Singapore, between the freshly designated arts and museum district in Bras Basah and that bastion of colonial hospitality known as the Raffles Hotel, sits a remarkable work of architecture, the Central Library. Designed by Malaysian architect Ken Yeang, the building reflects sensitivities to the island’s tropical weather and its people’s reading habits; its most frequently accessed collections are housed directly below the ground-level entrance, enabling easy navigation and minimal loss of cool air. The Library is a strong example of what Yeang calls “eco-design,” reflecting his conception of built space as a species of living system that interacts dynamically with its environment to form a single ecology.
Yeang’s ecological innovation resides in his consideration of close relationships between urbanism and natural conditions, but it is no stretch to see how his thinking might also be applied to other, cultural, conditions. Such a “cultural ecology” seems appropriate for a library site that neighbors a complex known to Mandarin readers as “Book City.” This mixed development is rife with small bookstores, harried print shops, and cheap stationers—as well as with restaurants and public housing. And it is home to Basheer Graphic Books, Singapore’s single best store for arts and design publications.
Thinking of culture as an ecology might help us to understand the ways in which a culture of reading is positioned in Singapore. Bearing the Central Library’s location in mind, we can see how the “space” of reading is positioned between Singapore’s aspiration toward the status of culture-savvy global city (with its attendant venues for contemporary art), and its oft-told history as a city prized by empires for a strategic geography that also constrained it.
Examining reading habits in Singapore, the numbers seem impressive. In a city of over five million people, two million are members of the national network of public libraries, which issue more than thirty-six million loans each year. The libraries’ annual book sale weekend, when three hundred thousand books are made available for sale at US$1.50 each or less, is the bibliophile’s version of a Black Friday shopping event, with comparable crowds and lines. The Singapore Writers Festival, currently helmed by a poet, has grown from a biennial event into an annual one. Its last edition featured writers Michael Cunningham, Pico Iyer, and Cyril Wong, and attracted over 16,000 visitors. While the number of book publishers and bookstores has declined, the Singapore Book Publishers Association notes that operating revenue is up.
What the numbers belie is the fact that self-assessment books are dominant among the titles published in Singapore. This is symptomatic of a national anxiety that education has become a test-driven competitive sport, with bespectacled children acting as players—Singaporean children have among the highest incidences of myopia in the world—and hopeful parents as stressed-out coaches evaluating the annual report books that rank each student’s place from the age of seven. English, seen as the language of financial success, is used in the books most frequently accessed at the libraries, though materials are also available in Tamil, Malay, and Mandarin.
More crucially, publishing and reading in Singapore take place within a unique set of operating principles accumulated over years of legislative development, bureaucratic caution, and literary selection. Take journalism, for example. Despite the number of prominent lawsuits against journalists and news publications pursued over the years, the issue with publishing journalism in Singapore is not the rule of law (which is robustly defended) but the rule of vague law. As journalism professor Cherian George describes it, this consists of “vaguely worded” restrictions that operate without judicial review. As George points out, “the executive can revoke or deny a publishing permit at any time and is under no legal obligation to give any reasons.” Literary publications in Singapore depend on a combination of ingredients for success, among them shrewd manuscript selection and grant money. But such money is disbursed with a caveat to avoid promoting values contrary to public interest, which could restrict anything from criticisms of the death penalty to gay poetry. Books that might otherwise generate strong buzz, even healthy controversy, are unlikely to find grant support—which in turn affects publishers’ financial calculus. No wonder local writing can seem less engaging, with the reading public preferring imported over indigenous literature.
One consequence of this is a winnowed sense of history, in which the globally recognized narrative of Singapore as a postcolonial prodigy marked by outsized successes becomes both the country’s raison d’être and its primary source of limitation. The terms of its geography begin to structure the flow of established history with which Singaporeans are familiar: the country’s size and economic achievement give cause to a vulnerability to perceived military and ideological threats, its unique makeup of immigrant populations leads to a wariness of debate about race and religion in public life. Consequently, the history of Singapore’s early years of independence occludes contributions by the government’s socialist participants and other antagonists, and recent episodes in which religion entangled with the state become gaps in history, with little accessible information.
Readers interested in a 1987 Marxist conspiracy might find, for example, that publications from that period by alleged mastermind Tan Wah Piow are unavailable at the library or elsewhere. As recently as two years ago, the Library barred Vincent Cheng, a former seminarian whose social justice work led to his detention amid accusations of leading the conspiracy, from speaking at a forum organized by a university historical society. Art publications are not spared: in 2007, state authorities intervened to remove the title essay from the catalogue for Raised, an art festival thematically focused on migrant labor (disclosure: I was the author of that essay).
The spaces for reading are changing, though not only via the usual digital suspects. New independent bookstores have opened and thrived. These include Littered with Books on Duxton Hill, the picture-book store Woods in the Books, and BooksActually, the latter also a publisher responsible for more than a dozen new titles by Singapore authors in the past year. Select Books, now under new ownership and located in the arts and museum district, remains the go-to store for scholarly and heterodox accounts of Southeast Asian history. Further, Ethos Books publisher Fong Hoe Fang has taken the brave step of backing books without grant support, even distributing them by hand. Encouragingly, his book That We May Dream Again and lawyer and ex-detainee Teo Soh Lung’s affecting memoir Beyond the Blue Gate are available at the Central Library.
Artists—readers and self-publishers in their own right—are also changing the ecology. Artist Cheong Kah Kit has lead efforts to increase the Library’s contemporary art book holdings, an increasingly urgent resource in a city bristling with new contemporary exhibition venues. A short walk away from the Library at his Aliwal Street studio, celebrated performance artist Lee Wen has established the Independent Archive and Resource Center to collect catalogues, recordings, and other publications related to historical art practice. Among his many invaluable books and documents is the 1994 newsprint report that precipitated events leading to the de facto decade-long ban on performance art in Singapore. With more spaces of this kind functioning as resources for readers, we may yet see a thickening of the cultural ecology. And with a denser enmeshment of spaces, readers, and the multifarious other constituents of a curious, literate, public, the Central Library may become a little less central, while art and history may be a little more so.
Article via the Perspectives section of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative Online Platform
Jestico + Whiles’ design for the new £61m National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester has recently been granted planning consent. The new facility will be designed with the goal to be the world-leading research and incubator center dedicated to the development of graphene, helping the UK to remain at the forefront of the commercialization of this revolutionary material. The project will be housed within a compact 7,600m2 five-storey building, with the main cleanroom located on the lower ground floor to achieve best vibration performance.More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
In memory of architect and arts administrator Deborah Norden, the Deborah J. Norden Fund is calling for proposals from students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies for awards up to $5000 in travel and study grants. A program of The Architectural League of New York, participants must submit a maximum three-page proposal, which succinctly describes the objectives of the grant request and how it will contribute to the applicant’s intellectual and creative development. The deadline for submissions is April 17. For more information, please visit here.
Taking place March 14-May 26, the ‘Culture:City’ exhibition encourages us to think consistently about the future of our cities from this perspective. Curated by Matthias Sauerbruch for the Akademie der Künste, the exhibit takes a critical eye to the relationship between architecture and the social reality of the 21st century and shows the impact of art and culture on cities and architecture. Art and culture have in many ways become key motors of innovative and successful urban design and planning, without which the world’s metropoles would no longer be worthy of the name. More information on the exhibition after the break. (more…)
Taking place October 10-13, this year’s Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam, which is considered the world’s largest architecture film festival, is expected to attract an audience of approximately 5,000 international visitors. The event will include screenings of over 100 movies, docs and shorts. For more information, please visit their official website here.
Organized by Christopher Marcinkoski and Javier Arpa, in cooperation with the Architectural League of New York, ‘The City That Never Was’ symposium will be taking place Friday, February 22, from 9:00am-5:30pm EST at the Scholastic Building in New York. The one day event will use the current economic and housing crisis in Spain as a lens to reconsider how planners, designers, politicians, and financiers conceive of and realize large-scale contemporary urbanization and settlement. It will be organized through four primary themes — infrastructure, waste, landscape, and instant urbanism – in order to explore new possibilities for how future patterns of urbanization can be conceived, financed, planned, deployed, and inhabited. For more details, including the complete itinerary and speaker information, please visit here.
The third prize winning proposal for the design of art residences in the village of Nikola-Lenivets, Russia is based on the principle of ecological compatibility and convergence with nature. Designed by Megabudka, this is achieved by architectural solutions, volumetric-spatial structures, interaction with environment, and internal physical and mental filling. This new community for artists, and all creative people, will consist of dormitories, a nursery, community center, family houses, and private units. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
AECOM has announced ‘Unslumming Kibera’ as winner of the fourth annual Urban SOS competition.
The student competition received submissions from 118 universities in 41 countries. Three projects were shortlisted for a presentation to a panel of judges in New York on Jan 16.
Read about the finalists and their projects after the break
The U.S. Department of State recently announced a request for proposals from any U.S. nonprofit organization at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, which is set to take place June 7-November 23, 2014. This includes museums, galleries, design centers, schools of architecture and design, and independent curators affiliated with a non-profit organization. The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2013. For more information, please visit here.
With urbanistic planning in mind, the proposal by Baumschlager Eberle for the law courts of Caen redefines a new domain in the center of the city. In collaboration with Atelier d’Architecture Pierre Champenois, the shape of the building agrees not only with the tradition but of course with the more complex duties of law courts in the 21st century. An orthogonal pattern constitutes the base for the organization of the needs of the law courts. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
New Theme Gallery in Los Angeles is proud to present their first solo exhibition of award-winning photographer Ethan Pines. Starting off with an opening reception tonight, February 2nd, from 7pm-10pm, his work documents the peculiarity of forms borne of Los Angeles’ unique urban typologies. This exhibition reveals patterns of urbanization in Los Angeles while proposing a new, sustainable form in terms of New Theme’s recent design of the Green Greenberg Green House.
Pines’ award-winning editorial and commercial work has been featured in Wired, Los Angeles Magazine, The New York Times, Food & Wine, Sony Music and Dolby Laboratories. Over the last few years he has also documented the city in terms of private moments separated from the greater agglomeration. For more information, please visit here. More images of Pines’ work can be viewed after the break. (more…)
Taking place February 8-9, the Building Pulitzer Colloquium, which is free and open to the public, will bring together key participants in the design and construction of this iconic building. The colloquium will provide unique insight into the extraordinary collaboration and dedication required to realize this project. Hosted by the The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Washington University in St. Louis, the event focuses on how this building, designed by an internationally recognized architect, was completed. Topics will include the working structure between Tadao Ando’s office and the St. Louis-based team, the realization of Ando’s design intent through the translation of American methods of construction, and the creation of a work environment that fostered construction excellence. More information on the event after the break. (more…)
‘Fields Of Knowledge’ Sustainable Education Campus Second Prize Winning Proposal / ShaGa Studio + Auerbach-Halevy Architects/Ori Rittenberg(Rotem)
Awarded the second prize in the recent Ramat Efal Education Campus Competition, the ‘Fields of Knowledge’ proposal by ShaGa Studio + Auerbach Halevy Architects/Ori Rittenberg(Rotem) integrates a series of linear ‘knowledge fields’ into a rich and varied learning experience, weaving together exteriors and interiors, the public and the community. Evoking the memories of old agriculture fields in Ramat Efal, their design criticizes an existing plan that splits the campus into three divided plots and suggests instead an integration of both school & public programs within an overall ‘field condition’. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
Focusing on local architecture, the proposal for the Mosque (Amir Al- Momenin) by CAAT Architecture Studio detaches from everyday life and the approach to worship space in accessing the building. The integrated entity of the proposal plays its role as a religious and cultural center in the region scale while communicating with the environment. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
Designed by YCF Group, in collaboration with ARCA Consulting and AFH Haiti (Architecture for Humanity), their proposal for the Notre Dame de l’Assomption draws on the life and culture of the Haitian people, while remembering the site’s history and the lives lost on January 12, 2010. Inspired by a Haitian fisherman’s boat, the project’s folded origami form aims links the new cathedral to the old cathedral’s former function as a lighthouse. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
Exhibited at the Designers’ Saturday 2012 in Langenthal, Switzerland and at the BAU 2013 in Munich, Germany, the experimental installation “Abstraction” transforms shadows and lights into predefined pixels. Created by architects Peter Thomas Hornung of Hornung and Jacobi Architecture and Axel Schenke, their patented system uses the given material properties of Corian and assigned it with so far unknown qualities. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
A true legacy in the field of architecture and beyond, Oscar Niemeyer, who died just this past December at the age of 104, has traveled into the heart of many, one of which is graffiti artist Eduardo Kobra. In honor of the Brazilian architect, Kobra created a 61-yard art piece on the side of a building in Sao Paulo’s financial district. The immense, colorful mural cannot be missed as people pass by and admire the work. Expressing Niemeyer’s love for concrete, curves and Le Corbusier, the mural truly encompasses the architect’s aim to, “…produce an architecture that serves everyone and not just a group of privileged people.” More images can be viewed after the break. (more…)