Kickstarter Campaign: The Blindspot Initiative

The Blinspot Initiative: “Beyond competition, towards collaboration”. Image Courtesy of

Like many in architecture, the Blindspot Initiative has grown tired of ”the exclusive, winner takes all mentality of competitions.” Instead, they value collaboration and open access to ideas, and so are renting a studio in East LA for an exhibition that will display the work of 10 fringe (blindspot) designers, “presenting work on a neutral ground to encourage conversations and practice which lives outside the conventions of typical outputs and practices.” Visit their kickstarter project to learn more and contribute to their cause (and check out their video, after the break).

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Can a Law of Linguistics Predict How Cities Grow?

– Twice the size of LA. Via Flickr CC User. Image © Katy Silberger

An interesting article on io9 unveils a curious law that can apparently predict the size of cities - a law developed by a linguist. The original version of Zipf’s law states that in any language, the most common word was used twice as much as the second most common, three times as much as the third and so on. It seems though, that this law also applies to the populations of the in a given country. And the most interesting part? Nobody really knows why. You can read the full article here.

Bloomberg’s Next Move: Leading an ‘Urban SWAT Team’

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After a 12 year mayoral run, many have been wondering what ’s next move will be. The answer: be mayor of every city (kind of). Bloomberg, along with most of his Hall team (including transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan), has shifted his focus to Bloomberg Associates, a consultancy group that – like an ‘urban SWAT team’ – offers advice to cities that call for it. For free. To learn more about Bloomberg’s newest initiative, read the full article here on The New York Times. 

Foster + Partners’ Thames Hub On the Chopping Block

’ Proposal for Thames Hub. Image Courtesy of

The prognosis does not look good for Foster + Partners’ plan for an airport hub in the Thames Estuary. The Guardian reports that the Independent Airports Commission has released an interim report, revealing a shortlist of potential options for the – and the Thames Hub (with an estimated price tag of £112bn)  isn’t on it.  Yet hope (however slim) does remain for the proposal, as its persistent defender, London mayor Boris Johnson, has managed to convince the commission to revisit the idea in early 2014. Get the whole story at The Guardian.

A Bad Month for Frank Lloyd Wright Fans

The SC Johnson Administration building, featuring Wright’s (now controversial) desks. Image © Jeff Dean

December has been a month of disappointment for fans of Frank Lloyd Wright: first, a plan to build a house designed by Wright and adapted for the English countryside has been rejected by Wraxall Councillors (Bristol Post), who believe that “can’t be that influential”. This was followed by the news that SC Johnson, the company for whom Wright designed the famous Johnson Administration Building, is trying to stop the high profile Sotheby’s auction (ArtInfo) of a desk and chair designed for their building – claiming that the items were in fact stolen from them way back in the 1950s. More on the rejection here and the Sotheby”s controversy here.

Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, Inaugurated as 2014 AIA President

. Image © William Stewart

Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, executive director of the Virginia Center for Architecture, has been inaugurated as the 90th president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). She succeeds Mickey Jacob, FAIA, in representing nearly 83,000 AIA members.

“During my term as president, I want to look towards the future of our profession and society in general.  We need to stimulate research to benefit the design and construction industry, emphasize a culture in firms that nurtures emerging professionals and promotes diversity and inclusiveness for under-represented groups, and advance the profession in the eyes of the public,” said Dreiling. “Ultimately, our efforts will be focused on bringing a shift to our own professional culture – the way we think, act and behave to transform the way that our culture regards architects and architecture.”

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Inside Japan’s “Crazy” Housing

House NA / Sou Fujimoto Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Inspired by our wildly popular article “Why Japan Is Crazy About Housing,” CNN has interviewed Tokyo-based author and architect Alastair Townsend in order to dig a bit deeper into why radical design has become more common in . The video features interviews with the residents of House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects, who share what it’s like to live in a multi-storied home with step ladders and no walls, as well as Sou Fujimoto, who takes us on a tour of his whimsical, tree-house inspired House NA. Watch the video after the break.

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Arup to Collaborate with Henning Larsen on European Spallation Source

© Luxigon

Arup has been selected “to contribute expertise” in the of the European Spallation Source Research Centre (ESS) in Lund, Sweden. They will collaborate with Henning Larsen Architects, who was selected to design the state-of-the-art facility earlier this yearThe ESS will become the world’s largest and most advanced research facility for neutron-based research once it is fully operational in 2025. Alongside enabling scientists to see and understand atomic and molecular structures and movements, it will also be based on the world’s most powerful neutron source – a 600m long accelerator which fires neutrons at different types of material in order that they can be analyzed in enormous detail. Learn more about ESS and its design here

Kanye West, Jacque Herzog Talk Architecture, Bore Kanye Fans to Tears

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jacques Herzog, . Image © Seth Browarnik/startraksphoto.com, via Surface Magazine’s Facebook Page

In her article for BlouinArtInfo, Janelle Zara wittily recounts her experience at an architecture event in which 70% of the audience left before the night’s end. The event? A talk, held last week in ’s Design District, between Kanye West and Pritzker laureate Jacque Herzog. Despite the audience’s clear lack of interest, Zara insists the skippers missed quite the conversation: “Herzog’s half of the conversation lent it its gravitas; Kanye’s token Westisms provided the candy-coated sprinkles on top.” Read the full post here.

Call for Submissions: Satellite Magazine

Satellite, an independent print magazine focused on , culture, and politics, is seeking submissions for its upcoming issue. Approximately a third of each issue focuses on a different city: to date, they have covered New Orleans, Montreal, and Toronto, and are now starting work on . They’re therefore particularly interested in submissions pertaining to that city, but are happy to consider other topics as well.

Most of their content relates to urbanism, architecture, politics, and/or art. They publish articles and essays (both long- and short-form), photography, and more, and welcome contributors from a broad variety of backgrounds. For a sense of what they have run in the past, see http://www.satellitemagazine.ca/issues/.

They’re distributed in bookstores throughout the United States and Canada. Please send pitches, completed work, or questions to submit@satellitemagazine.ca.

Submit your VMZINC project for the next ArchiZinc Trophy Awards by December 31

US and Umicore Building Products, USA Inc., a leading specialist in innovative zinc products manufactured and sold by the Building Products Unit of Umicore, announced earlier this year the sixth edition of the Archizinc Trophy contest. The bi-annual contest, open to architects throughout the world, rewards the most attractive creations for the quality of their architecture and their integration into the environment. The competition aims to highlight zinc through appropriate new applications and awards prizes in five building categories: individual , collective , public buildings, commercial buildings, and people’s choice.

Winners will be chosen based on the quality of architectural design, structural soundness and innovativeness of zinc application. Both the unique use and noticeable emphasis of zinc throughout the building are key factors in judging contest entries. Participants are expected to incorporate and consider the environment as much as possible in their designs.

First place winners will receive the Archizinc Trophy, composed completely of zinc, at the awards banquet in June 2014 hosted in Paris, France. Additionally, the winners’ creations will be published in a special issue of FOCUS ON ZINC, called ArchiZinc Trophy, an international architectural journal by VMZINC, which distributes more than 60,000 copies to building professionals in more than 30 countries.

All applications can be sent before the submission deadline of Tuesday, Dec. 31 by post or through email to Trophee.Arhchizinc@umicore.com. Registration for the competition is effective upon receipt by Umicore Building Products of the registration file with all the required information completed before the submission deadline. For detailed registration information, awards schedule and the complete contest rules, visit http://bit.ly/1dQpO5H.

Competition Entry: Ruch Chorzów Football Stadium / Andrea Maffei Architects

View towards entrance. Image Courtesy of

Andrea Maffei Architect‘s competition entry for a new stadium for Ruch Chorzów, one of Poland‘s largest football clubs, offers a capacity for 12,000 and provision for up to 16,000 seats. The design encourages the stadium and its surroundings to act as a new civic point of reference for Chorzów as part of a wider complex of shops and restaurants. The architects’ understanding of the movement of people on match days is complimented by the facilities that the new stadium will offer to visitors seven days a week, the design for which will provide Ruch Chorzów with a state-of-the-art football pitch and associated amenities.

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Will Internet Kill the Architect Star?

Courtesy of ZHA

After the controversial lampooning of Zaha Hadid’s Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, Anthony Flint of the Atlantic casts a critical eye over how the internet, and the swarms of would-be architecture critics that reside there, have changed the way that buildings are designed. Tracking the trend for this form of criticism from Le Corbusier’s “two pianos having sex” (aka the Carpenter Centre at Harvard) to the hyper-reactive culture of modern online criticism today, he looks at how architects – and PR companies – are responding. You can read the full article here.

3,2,1…TEST: Call for Applications to BIO 50

In 2014, the 24th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana (BIO), , reinvents itself and launches an ambitious call for applications. Entering the realm of collaboration, where is a tool to rethink everyday life, the Biennial is looking for individuals to shape possible futures for .

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, BIO builds on the event’s tradition and history, advancing into an experimental, collaborative territory where design is employed as a tool to question and transform ideas about industrial production, public and private space, and pre-established systems and networks. Organized by MAO, the Museum of Architecture and Design, BIO 50 is curated by Belgian critic and curator Jan Boelen, founder and artistic director of Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Head of the Master department Social Design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, and chairman of the Flemish Committee for Architecture and Design.

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RIBA Replaces the Lubetkin Prize with the New “International Prize”

2013 Winner: Cooled Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay. Image © Craig Sheppard

The RIBA has announced that the Lubetkin Prize, awarded annually for the past thirteen years to the architects of the “best new building” outside the European Union, is to be replaced with the new “international prize” in 2015. As a result, there will be no RIBA International or Lubetkin Prize awarded in 2014. According to the RIBA, ”the Lubetkin Prize has been a useful platform to highlight the work of RIBA members around the world. We are currently working on creating a prize that has even greater international impact and look forward to announcing more details in the future.” The Lubetkin Prize’s last recipients were Wilkinson Eyre and Grant Associates for Cooled ConservatoriesGardens by the Bay in Singapore.

Green Design for the Future: Tsinghua-ECGB Asia Architecture Summit & Exhibition

Tsinghua-ECGB Asia Architecture Summit & Exhibition will be held December 12-13, 2013 at Tsinghua University in City. Jointly sponsored by School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, Tsinghua Holdings Human Settlements Construction (Group) Co., Ltd, Editorial Office of Eco-city and Green Building (ECGB) magazine, the Summit will bring together eight award winning Asian architects to share their design thinking and key projects on creative sustainability. Keynote speakers include Vo Trong Nghia, Principal Architect of Vo Trong Nghia Architects and Shigeru Ban, Founder of Shigeru Ban Architects.

The exhibition will cover various sustainable projects, namely WNW Bar and Dailai Conference Hall by Vo Trong Nghia, Beitou Public Library and Taipei Flora Expo Pavilions by Bio Architecture Formosana, Green School at Bali in Indonesia by John Hardy, A House for all Seasons by John Lin, Innhouse and KPMG-CCTF community centre by Dr. Lin Hao, Paper Church and Post Tsunami for Kirinda Sri Lanka, House of Outlook by Prof. Kazuo Iwamura and other projects.

More than 500 developers, designers, architects, academia experts and government officials are expected to join the Summit, providing a feast of splendid architectural works, dialogue among renowned Asian architects, sharing of views of green design for the future.

Title: Green Design for the Future: Tsinghua-ECGB Asia Architecture Summit & Exhibition
Organizers: Tsinghua University
From: Thu, 12 Dec 2013
Until: Fri, 13 Dec 2013
Venue: Tsinghua University
Address: Haidian, Beijing, China

Pier Carlo Bontempi Named 2014 Driehaus Laureate

Piazza Matteotti (watercolor) / and Leon Krier

Italian architect Pier Carlo Bontempi has been selected as the 12th recipient of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the . Lauded for his “lifelong contribution to the human city and classical tradition,” Bontempi has dedicated much of his work in the “search for common ground between the classical and the modern; the two most powerful architectural ideas of our century,” as jury member Demetri Porphyrios described.

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Why Workspaces are Obsessed with the Open Plan

NBBJ’s tri-sphere biodome planned for Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters. Image Courtesy of NBBJ

In a brilliant article for Der Spiegel, “The New Monuments to Digital Domination,” writer Thomas Schulz not only rounds up our reigning tech giants’ oddly-shaped offices – from Apple’s “spaceship” to Amazon’s “biodomes” - but also pinpoints what they have in common: horizontality. And why? Because an “open creative playground” without boundaries (like floors or walls) is “the perfect ideas factory: the ideal spatial environment for optimally productive digital workers who continuously churn out world-changing innovations.” And while this means that privacy has gone out these workspaces’ proverbial windows, Schulz isn’t too surprised – after all, “people have no right to a private life in the digital age.” Check out this must-read article here.