How New Elevator Technology Will Allow Our Cities to Grow Even Taller

KONE UltraRope Elevator Shaft. Image Courtesy of Kone/Splash/Corbis

The sky is not always the limit when it comes to building vertically – rather, elevator technology is often the restricting factor when it comes to skyscraper height. With current technology, a single elevator can travel approximately 500m before the weight of the rope becomes unsupportable. This means that ascending a mile-high (1.6km) tower would require changing elevators up to 10 times. However, UltraRope, a recently unveiled technology by Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE, may change the heights of our cities. A new hoisting technology that will enable elevators to travel up to one kilometer, UltraRope doubles the distance that is currently possible.

In an article for The Guardian, “The new lift technology that will let cities soar far higher,” Rory Hyde looks at the current limitations of elevator technology, how its development over the years has shaped our and the impact that UltraRope could have skyscraper design. Read the whole piece, here.

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What Happened to Manhattan’s Lowline Project?

Courtesy of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch

In 2011, the Tribeca-based design duo of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch proposed a radical project to transform an abandoned subterranean trolley terminal in Manhattan‘s Lower East Side into an underground park filled with natural light and vegetation, eventually proving their design with a full size mock-up of their design for light-capturing fiber-optic tubes. Since then, they haven’t had nearly the same level of publicity – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still working. This article by The Architects’ Newspaper catches up with Ramsey and Barasch as they attempt to make their $50 million project a reality by 2018. Read the full article here.

IE School of Architecture and Design Announces SPACES FOR INNOVATION Prize

IE School of Architecture and Design announces IE SPACES FOR INNOVATION Prize for young architects and designers worldwide, seeking to attract top architecture and design talents to invite them to take part in the IE Master in Design for Work, Retail and Learning Environments starting next February 2015.

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Damien Hirst Receives Planning Permission for “Hirst-on-Sea”

Proposed Rendering. Image Courtesy of NextCity

According to Will Doig of NextCity, world renowned contemporary artist has received planning permission to build a town from scratch on the British coastline. Working alongside Rundell Associates the project, which has been dubbed “Hirst-on-Sea” near the town of , will consist of 75 affordable homes built over the next ten to fifteen years. Most famous for his 2007 diamond-studded skull entitled For the Love of God and, more ubiquitously, glass cases containing sharks and cows preserved in formaldehyde, Doig wonders that, “given Hirst’s history, it’s hard to imagine he’s not trying to make some sort of statement.” Time will tell as to what that might be.

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Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce

Breaking New Ground is an international design and ideas competition addressing the urgent affordable housing needs for farmworker and service worker families in the Coachella Valley, where efforts to improve living conditions suffers from a lack of funding and coordination. Going beyond design, the competition seeks to envision new precedents, mechanisms, and policies for affordable housing implementation and development, with implications for California and the nation.

At the competition’s conclusion, The California Endowment and County of Riverside will work together to build an affordable housing project based on the winning entries. The winning team may also be selected to participate in the design and construction of the new project.

The Coachella Valley is an important agricultural and tourist center, generating $4 billion in economic activity annually, and relying on both permanent and seasonal workers for both industries. However, the region currently lacks affordable housing and thousands of people live in non-regulated mobile home . The competition seeks to find holistic housing solutions, implementing architecture, policy and financial solutions.

There will be an Open Division as well as a Student Division, and registration opens October, 2014. A total of $300,000 will be shared between four finalist teams. You can review all the details in the competition’s official website.

Infrastructure, Data and Progress: Ireland’s Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

© Nico Saieh

The Irish pavilion’s response to the theme of the 2014 Venice Biennale captures the tumultuous history of the Ireland‘s past hundred years through ten infrastructural projects which highlight the country’s progress. ’s relationship to the theme of “Absorbing Modernity” was colored by their independence from the United Kingdom in the early 1920s, with modernism and infrastructure seen as the way to leave this past behind. The pavilion examines the outcomes of this approach, with Ireland treated as “a launch-pad and testing ground” for everything from concrete infrastructure to data centers. Read the curators’ take on their pavilion after the break.

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“Lina Bo Bardi: Together” at the DAZ Berlin

If you are in Berlin in August, make sure to check out the exhibition “Lina Bo Bardi: Together” at The Deutsche Architecture Zentrum, dedicated to the legacy of the famed Italian-born Brazilian architect, and focusing on her “capacity to engage with every facet of culture and to see the potential in all manner of people.” More on the exhibition after the break.

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The Solution To Pollution Is…The Rooftops?

, used to keep Richard Meier’s Jubilee Church a crisp white, is now being looked at for reduction at The University of California – Riverside. Image © Flickr User Rory MacLeod

The potential solution to smog and pollution may be hovering right over our heads, now that Students at the University of California – Riverside have designed a pollution reducing rooftop tile. According to their calculations, cladding one million rooftops with the tiles could remove 21 tons of nitrogen oxides — daily. Currently the Los Angeles area spits out 500 tons of nitrogen oxides a day, so the tiles are just one piece of the puzzle in reducing pollution – however the students are imagining their nitrogen-oxide-eating Titanium Dioxide compound in exterior paints, concrete and more. To see all the possibilities, read the full article here.

Under the Skin: Exploring BIG Through the Danish Maritime Museum

© Rasmus Hjortshøj

With a voluminous portfolio and a bold, light-hearted persona, Bjarke Ingels is among the most respected young architects of the era. Now, as he enters his forties, this article from Icon looks at one of his longest-running projects: The Danish National Maritime Museum. Exploring the development of this project from competition winning proposal in 2006 to completion last year, it discusses some of BIG’s more daring decisions for the museum’s design, as well as Ingels’ development as an architect on the international stage.

Gehry to Design Campus for Non-Profit in Los Angeles Neighborhood

Watts Tower. Image via Wikimedia

Frank Gehry, renowned for his often enormous public works projects, is turning his attention to something on a smaller scale: a campus for the non-profit organization CII (Children’s Institute Inc.) in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Perhaps best known for Watts tower, the architecture of Watts is shaped by limited income and the need to deter vandalism. according to the LA Times Gehry’s intervention will hopefully be a tipping point for a neighborhood desperate to change not just its aesthetic but its future. Read the full article about the project here.

Latest Issue of ArchitectureBoston Devoted Entirely To Architecture & Design Books

Courtesy of

This summer, ArchitectureBoston gives readers a reason to linger in their hammocks a little longer and drift away into the world of architecture and design. The new issue contains extensive and insightful suggestions for book lovers looking to build a personal library of new and important titles. Read on for more information.

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UK Ministers to Consider Key Recommendation of Farrell Review

Sir Terry Farrell. Image © Agnese Sanvito, via Farrells Facebook Page

The House of Lords has announced that the proposal to appoint a ‘Chief Architect’ in the UK, one of the major recommendations of this year’s report by Terry Farrell, will be discussed by the ’s minister for architecture Ed Vaizey and Housing and Planning minister Brandon Lewis. The proposal was among 60 recommendations made by the Farrell Review at the end of March. Other proposals due to be discussed by ministers are a the idea of establishing a Place Leadership Council and design review panels for infrastructure projects. More after the break…

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Has The Surge Of Visitors to Museums & Galleries Reached A Tipping Point?

Crowds around Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre, Paris. Image © Guia Besana

In an article for the New York Times  examines Masterworks vs. the Masses. From the Louvre in Paris to London’s British Museum, Florence’s Uffizi to the Vatican Museums, the increasing surge of visitors to these international cultural nodes “has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces.” Balancing everyone’s right to be “nourished” by cultural experiences with protecting and preserving the works of art in question is a very real problem. According to Donadio, ”even when the art is secure, the experience can become irksome.” With some museums seeing annual visitors of up to 6.7 million visitors (British Museum), addressing the issues faced by institutions that are a victim of their own success is becoming more and more pressing. Read the article in full here.

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The Empowerment of Aesthetics: Denmark’s Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

© Nico Saieh

Denmark‘s exhibition for the 2014 Venice Biennale focuses on the country’s history as a pioneer in the development of a welfare state, and the role that architecture, in connection with art, literature and science had in creating an aesthetic manifestation of this ’better life for all’. By exploring the output of a range of fields in connection to a wider social movement, Empowerment of Aesthetics comes to a fuller understanding of how modernity affected architecture in .

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Spotlight: Santiago Calatrava

. Image Courtesy of http://en.wikiarquitectura.com/

Today is the 63rd birthday of world renowned architect, engineer, and artist Santiago Calatrava Valls. Calatrava is well known for his neofuturist style and his wild feats of engineering. The Milwaukee Art Museum, his first building in the United States, is famous for its shading “wings” that open and close in response to the position of the sun. His complex of buildings in his native Valencia is also a frequent pilgrimage site for architecture enthusiasts. 

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Syrian Refugee Camp Becoming Impromptu City

Aerial View of Zaatari Refugee Camp. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

As the Syrian civil war continues to rage, more and more Syrian citizens are emigrating across the border to refugee camps in Jordan.  While these camps were intended to be temporary, the sheer number of people they support and the uncertainty of when the Syrian crisis will end has leant them a sense of permanence.  This article from the New York Times takes a look at how Syrian refugees are prompting urban development and what this means for the future of refugee camp design.

WAF Reveals Shortlist for Wood Excellence Award

The Tent/ a21studio. Image Courtesy of a21 studio

The World Architecture Festival () has announced the shortlist for its first Wood Excellence award, which will honor a project where wood is an integral part of the design. Out of over 40 projects considered, has selected eight for the shortlist, including a21studio’s “The Tent” and “Salvaged Ring,” as well as DSDHA’s “Alex Monroe Studio” and the University of Hong Kong’s “The Pinch.”

Salvaged Ring/a21studio. Image Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

Sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the Wood Excellence award aims to recognize a project that showcases the sustainable benefits and timeless beauty of wood. All projects submitted for a WAF award that feature wood were automatically considered for the Wood Excellence award. “This was a great way to appreciate how a ‘traditional’ material can be used to transform exteriors and interiors in new and unexpected ways,” Paul Finch, the WAF program director said in a press release.

On October 3 the architects selected will have the opportunity to present their projects to the prize judges.

The Pinch/Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong. Image Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

Shortlisted projects, WAF Wood Excellence Award:

  • The Tent/ a21studio (Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam)
  • Pittwater House/Andrew Burges Architects (Sydney, Australia)
  • Earth Wind and Fire/Atelier Arcau (Vannes, France)
  • School’t Hofke/UArchitects (Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
  • Regional Terminal at Christchurch Airport/BVN Donovan Hill (Christchurch, New Zealand)
  • Salvaged Ring/a21studio (Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam)
  • Alex Monroe Studio/DSDHA (London, )
  • The Pinch/Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong (Zhaotong, China)

Melbourne to Launch Its Own Serpentine Pavilion

2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion / Sou Fujimoto. Image © Danica O. Kus

Mirroring the Serpentine Galleries of London, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation has announced its own yearly pavilion commission for the city of Melbourne. Sited in the Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens, the premier “MPavilion” will be designed by Sean Godsell, opening October 6th of this year.  The pavilion will host a variety of community events, including art installations and performances, over a four month period.  It remains to be seen whether the MPavilion will have a lasting impact on the architectural culture of the city, as some critics have pointed out. To learn more about this now annual commission, visit this article from infolink.