World’s First Solar Bicycle Lane Opens in Amsterdam

SolaRoad in Krommenie. Image © SolaRoad

A popular bicycle lane and public road that connects the suburbs of Krommenie and Wormerveer has been impregnated with solar panels, making it the world’s first. The 70-meter stretch, serving 2,000 daily cyclists, was embedded with crystalline silicon solar cells encased within concrete and covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass. It is expected to be extended an additional 100-meters in 2016, providing enough energy to power three households. More information, here.

Kimmelman on MASS Design Group’s Open-Air Clinics in Haiti

© Iwan Baan for the New York Times (click image for more)

“Architecture and health are inseparable,” says Haitian doctor and founder of Gheskio in Michael Kimmelman’s latest New York Times piece In Haiti, Battling Disease With Open-Air Clinics. Recounting the devastating images of medical dysfunction that have circulated the internet since the Ebola epidemic, Kimmelman presents MASS Design Group’s nearly complete Port-au-Prince health clinics as a potential model for healthcare architecture worldwide. Combating cholera and tuberculosis with a modest, practical layout and open-air design, the new clinics will serve one of the city’s largest slums. Learn why Kimmelman declares them “handsome” and believes they will help eradicate disease in , here.

New York’s Storefront Launches “Street Architecture” Competition

Courtesy of Storefront

On the occasion of Ideas City 2015, the biennial Festival created to explore the future city and to effect change, Storefront for Art and Architecture, along with the New Museum and the New York City Department of Transportation, is launching a for the design and construction of an outdoor structure—a work of “Street Architecture” that facilitates new forms of collective gathering and engagement with the city.

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Progetto Flaminio Announces Competition for Rome’s New City of Science District

Courtesy of Progetto Flaminio

The Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Investimenti Sgr has recently acquired the former Precision Electrical Components Factory in Flaminio, located between Via Guido Reni and Viale del Vignola, that will now be transformed into the new City of Science district.

Signaling the debut of a course of urban developments near Rome’s historic neighborhoods, the area is marked by such iconic landmarks as Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI Museum, Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica, and the Foro Italico and Olympic Village of 1960. The competition calls for a master plan for a neighborhood “integrated within the context of contemporary Rome.” Covering an area of 5.1 hectares, the neighborhood should work in tandem with the City of Science, and feature landscaping, public areas that attract local residents as well as outside visitors, and residential spaces (including apartments and social housing) serving 1,500 to 2,000 people. Six participants will be chosen to move onto the second phase of the competition.

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Registration Open: European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention AADIPA

© European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention AADIPA

The Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention AADIPA, arises from the belief that heritage, as a vehicle for social integration and an economic vitalizing resource for the community, deserves to be appreciated and encouraged. In the current context, in which architectural heritage is considered not only to be a fundamental instrument of knowledge but also a first rate socioeconomic resource for the sustainable development of the territory, the disclosure, distinction and recognition of works and quality projects contributing to the preservation of the collective memory is imperative.

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Christmas Wars: The Fight to Hold the World Record for the Most Christmas Lights

The Gay’s house in LaGrangeville, New York. Image Courtesy of Guinness World Records

In the ongoing battle to hold the Guinness World Record for the Most Lights on a Residential Property (aka the house-with-the-most- lights), the Gay family in LaGrangeville, New York has once again reclaimed their title. This year the family used 601,736 lights, spanning two acres and set to more than 200 songs. RITZ Crackers, part of Mondelēz International, helped the family top the record, providing 200,000 lights. The Gay family and the Richards family in Canberra, Australia, have been fighting for the title over the past three years. But not to be outdone, the Richards family took home the Guinness World Record for the Largest Image Made of LED lights for their Christmas light installation this year. The installation in Canberra used 1,194,380 lights to make a 3D image of three Christmas gifts spanning 3,865 square meters and raised money for the charity SIDS and Kids ACT.  See more pictures and read more about the ongoing lights competition at City Lab and Guinness World Records

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Frank Gehry Tells the Story Behind Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi. Image © Gehry Partners

In just three short years, Frank Gehry’s 450,000-square-foot Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will open. More than 12 times the size of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim New York, the expansive $800 million museum will showcase 1960s art from around the world within an asymmetrical mountain of plaster blocks and self-cooling translucent cones. Anticipating its completion, the New York Times sat down with Gehry to hear the story behind the building’s design. Watch the full interview with Gehry, here.

UK Housing Review Panel “Needs To Be More Balanced,” Admits Terry Farrell

© Agnese Sanvito, via Farrells Facebook Page

Last week the UK Government appointed a new housing design panel, intended to “ensure that new homes are not only lower-cost but also high-quality and well-designed.” The panel will be by Terry Farrell, classical architect Quinlan Terry and aesthetics philosopher Roger Scruton, as well as representatives from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the UK Design Council and lobby group Create Streets. However, the profession was quick to criticize the selection of the three lead members of the panel.

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Samsung Commissions Choon-Soo Ryu to Design Vietnamese Community Center

Courtesy of

Samsung Electronics is spearheading a village development project in ThuyHoa, , as part of a new social contribution program named “the Nanum Village.” The Nanum Village is a project where the local government cooperates with residents of a village who are willing to develop their neighborhood, improving the public infrastructure and supporting local people’s initiatives for sustainable development of the village. This new community center by Korean architect Choon-Soo Ryu will be built in 2015 as a result of that initiative.

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RIBA To Open Chapter In India

Charles Correa, Indian architect and recipient of the Gold Medal (1984). Image © Charles Correa Associates

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In Defense of Santiago Calatrava

Florida Polytechnic Sciencie, Innovation and Technology Campus. Image © Alan Karchmer for

In recent years, few architects have had a tougher time in the media than Santiago Calatrava. Whether it’s his repeated legal battles over leaking roofs and peeling facades, the unceremonious death of his Chicago Spire project, or the media firestorm over his New York Transportation Hub that is $2 billion over budget, Calatrava has become a poster boy for those who criticize the supposed arrogance of today’s architects. However, in an engaging article for FastCo Design, Karrie Jacobs responds to what seems to be “a concerted effort to shore up his reputation,” coming to the defense of this “unreconstructed aesthete.” Read the article in full here.

BAG Transforms Wooden Pallets into Temporary Space Observatory

© Anita Baldassari

Rome-based firm Beyond Architecture Group (BAG) has designed “experimental furniture” – dubbed Looking (C)up – for the Frammenti Music Festival at the Archaeological Park in Tusculum, Italy. The firm, known for building houses with bales of straw, chose to craft an astronomical observatory with wooden pallets.

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Could Smart Cities Slowly Destroy Democracy?

Songdo, South Korea, was built along the "smart city" template. Image © Wikimedia User G43

Has the concept of the smart city ”crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot?” In the age of the “Internet of Things,” where does the citizen fit in? In this article from The Guardian, journalist Steven Poole takes a critical stance against the purported utopian ideals of smart . Poole delves into the nuances of who the smart city is truly meant to serve, questions the debate over whether it should develop along a top-down or bottom-up approach, and poses the provocative thought: “a vast network of sensors amounting to millions of electronic ears, eyes and noses – also potentially enable(s) the future city to be a vast arena of perfect and permanent surveillance by whomever has access to the data feeds.” Questions of control, virtual reality, free-will, and hierarchies of power, Poole asserts are critical to the discussion of technology’s powerful role in the future. Read the full article to learn more about the possible potential of the smart city to “destroy democracy,” here.

BIG Returns to the National Building Museum with “HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation”

Danish Expo Pavilion 2010. Image © Iwan Baan

On the heels of its summer blockbuster indoor maze, which attracted more than 50,000 visitors, the international design firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) returns to the National Building Museum this January with a behind-the-scenes look at its creative process. The exhibition, HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation, takes visitors from the hottest to the coldest parts of our planet and explores how BIG´s design solutions are shaped by their cultural and climatic contexts. More than 60 three-dimensional models will be suspended at the second-floor balconies of the Museum’s historic Great Hall in an unprecedented use of this public space.

HOT TO COLD premieres 20 of the studio’s latest projects, interpreted through Iwan Baan‘s masterful photography of BIG’s built work, films by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, and the Grammy Award-winning graphic artist Stefan Sagmeister’s design for the accompanying catalog by Taschen. HOT TO COLD opens on January 24, 2015 and remains on view through August 30, 2015.

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Open Call: Chicago Architecture Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition

Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial announces the Lakefront Kiosk Competition, organized in partnership with the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago. In keeping with the mission of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Lakefront Kiosk is an opportunity to support innovative architectural work and to use the city—more specifically, the iconic shoreline of Lake Michigan—as a laboratory for architectural experimentation.

The competition calls for the inventive design of a new kiosk that will be installed on Chicago’s lakefront, one of the city’s most vibrant public spaces. A jury of architects, curators, and city representatives will select one winner to receive the BP Prize, which includes an honorarium for design development and a construction budget to realize the design.

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King George III, an Aspiring Architect

George III, Sketch of a palace floor plan, 1785-9. British Library Maps 7.TAB.17. Image Courtesy of British Library

Not sure if “manic” can be classified as an architectural style, but that is what some are choosing to describe the newly discovered, hand-drawn floor plans of a grand place envisioned by King George III. According to the British Library, the King was “passionately interested” about architecture and drew plans for a future living quarters in Kew – now a district in West – during a time when he was suffering from severe mental illness in the late 1780s. Learn more about the King’s vision for a grand palace, here.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals A Dip In UK Workloads

Courtesy of RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for November showed that confidence in workload among UK architects fell back slightly with the workload index returning back to +29. This is compared to +37 in October, which was the second highest ever balance figure. The highest balance figures were in Northern Ireland (+50) and the North of England (+46), areas with the RIBA state “were initially the slowest to indicate a return to growth.” In addition, the percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed remained at 12% for the second month running – the lowest figure since the survey began in January 2009. Practices report that they are currently employing 6% more year-out and post Part II students than they were twelve months ago.

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Davis Brody Bond and KieranTimberlake Chosen to Design NYU Facility

US Embassy in London / KieranTimberlake Architects

As the culmination of a five-month selection process, University (NYU) has announced that Davis Brody Bond and KieranTimberlake will be designing its major new facility along Mercer Street between Houston and Bleecker in New York. The facility’s many uses will include classrooms, teaching spaces for performing arts, a state-of-the-art sports facility, and student and faculty .

Collectively, the team was chosen for its high profile portfolio, which includes projects like the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the U.S. Embassy in London, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the 1983-2006 restoration and expansion of the New York Public Library.