Call for Entries: Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence 2015

RBA 2013 Winner: Via Verde / Dattner Architects + Grimshaw Architects. Image © David Sundberg

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) has opened their 2015 call for applications. The biennial award celebrates urban places that are distinguished by quality design and their social and economic contributions to our nation’s cities. Winners offer creative placemaking solutions that transcend the boundaries between architecture, urban design and planning and showcase innovative thinking about American cities. One Gold Medal of $50,000 and four Silver Medals of $10,000 will be awarded. Projects must be a real place, not just a plan or a program, and be located in the 48 contiguous United States. Award winners may use prize money in any way that benefits the project. The deadline for entries is December 9, 2014. Learn how to apply here

Three Talks to Debate the Future of Life on London’s Rivers

© Flickr CC User mariusz kluzniak

As part of the their Architecture for All programme, London‘s Old Royal Naval College is set to host three debates about the future planned along the River Thames, investigating the issues surrounding living, building and working on the City’s waterways in the years to come. The series is curated by Ellis Woodman, critic for the Architects’ and the Architectural Review, who said: “Despite the fact that the riverfront is currently the subject of redevelopment proposals of unprecedented scale, London’s ambitions for the have yet to be widely articulated or debated.” Details of the three events after the break.

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Renzo Piano Comments on the Difficulties of Designing LA’s Motion Picture Academy

2013 Visualization. Image © Building Workshop, Studio Pali Fekete architects, AMPAS

In discussion with Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times, Renzo Piano has taken his comments of modesty – verging on “self-deprecation” – to a new level. In response to questions about the design of the proposed Motion Picture Academy in he has said: “I don’t think it will be that bad. [...] Actually, I’m struggling to do something good.” Although Piano’s design has previously been met with criticisms from Hawthorne, the Italian architect notes in this latest interview that ”everything we’ve made at LACMA has been extremely complicated.” The project, which has already seen a major alteration in the core design team, remains set to complete in 2015.

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Henning Larsen Foundation Launches Architecture and Film Competition

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects & Batteriid Architects. Image © Henning Larsen Architects

The is launching an international competition on architecture and film with the intent to “revitalize the use of architecture on film and foster new inspiration to architects and film professionals.” The theme of the competition is the experience of architectural space over time. The task is to create a film sequence of 1-5 minutes which animates architecture by embracing time as the primary dimension. Up to €18,000 in prizes will be awarded to entrants who inspire a new approach to architecture and the film media. Submissions are due by March 15, 2015. A winner will be announced on April 20, Henning Larsen’s . More information can be found here.

Architects Envision Buoyant “Thames Deckway” for London Cyclists

© RCC

On the heels of Mayor Boris Johnson’s announced plan to construct an 18-mile protected bike lane by March 2016, architect David Nixon and artist Anna Hill have released their vision for relieving ’s congested streets with a floating “ Deckway” for cyclists. The proposal, though just in its preliminary design phase, claims the river is currently a missed opportunity that could serve as a major travel artery for cyclists. If constructed, the £600 million project would run east-west for seven miles along the river’s southern bank, from Battersea to Canary Wharf, and harness it’s own energy through solar, tidal and wind power. Nixon and Hill have founded the River Cycleway Consortium in support of the project, which includes Arup and Hugh Broughton Architects.

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Places Journal Relaunches With a Fresh Commitment to Accessible Architecture Scholarship

Courtesy of Places

After a five-year stint as part of the Design Observer Group, Places Journal has now struck out on their own with a fresh, modern website and a renewed commitment to their editorial goal of publishing “rigorous and lively public scholarship on architecture, landscape, and urbanism.” As explained by Places Journal’s editor and executive director Nancy Levinson, “what drives our editorial enterprise is the publication of excellent work that combines the narrative power of serious journalism with the precision and depth of scholarship — work that advances the cause of equitable and sustainable landscapes.” Read more about the new Places Journal after the break.

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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 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 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.

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Rem’s Kit of Parts: Exhaustive and Exhausting, Mad and Maddening

Courtesy of OMA

In “Elements,” an exhibition and accompanying book for the 2014 Venice Architecture BiennaleRem Koolhaas seeks to explore the omnipresent components of buildings that have never been intentionally articulated by architectural theory. Breaking down the history of architecture into its fundamental components, the text is divided into 15 volumes and functions as “a technophilic treatise on the state of architectural thinking in the twenty-first century.” Despite providing lessons in architectural history, does the book deliver a compelling synthesis of all its parts? In his full review of the book for Metropolis Magazine, Samuel Medina argues that Koolhaas “fails to unpack the language of his argument,” resulting in a book that is “ambitious, overreaching, maddening” – much like the exhibition itself. Read the full review here.

Three Winning Schemes Reinvent the African Mud Hut

FIRST PRIZE: Sankofa House / M.A.M.O.T.H (France). Image Courtesy of

The Nka Foundation recently challenged young graduates and students of architecture to redesign the African mud hut for . The result, three designs received top honors for being both functional and beautiful, and will now be realized through a series of building workshops that you can participate in. Learn more and check out the winning designs, after the break.

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Second Solo House to Open Its Doors

Casa Office KGDVS / Office KGDVS. Image © by-encore.com, via

What happens when eight world-renowned architects are given carte blanche to design holiday homes on a dream site in ? This is precisely what French developer Christian Bourdais set out to discover with the launch of the Solo House project in 2010, and now, you can find out for yourself. Just two years after the completion of Solo Pezo, by Chilean architect Pezo von Ellrichshausen, the second of twelve houses is now emerging for tours and site visits. Solo OFFICE, by Office Kersten Geers David van Severen, will open its doors to visitors this week, October 9 through 11, as it nears fruition. 

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Spotlight: Le Corbusier

© Willy Rizzo

“Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.” 

The Swiss-born architect, urban planner, designer, painter and writer Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gris (1887-1965), better known as Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the modernist movement in architecture.  Over the course of his five-decade career, he saw work built across Europe, India, and the United States.

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Can You Imagine a City Without Air Conditioners?

Helsinki is pioneering an underground cooling system that could cut 80% of carbon emissions compared to conventional air conditioning. Image © Flickr CC User Justin Swan

Despite Finland’s relatively cool temperatures, climate changes have made heat waves more common in Northern Europe, and the demand for cooling buildings in summer is increasing. Instead of installing air conditioners for individual buildings, Helsinki is pioneering a vast network of underground that pumps cold water from lakes and seas into local buildings. Beneath an unassuming park in downtown Helsinki sits a reservoir containing nearly 9 million gallons of water that is recycled and cooled by waste energy after it is used for cooling, replacing the need for air conditioning in the city and cutting carbon pollution by 80%. Read more about this undertaking in this article from Fast Co. Exist.

Rem Koolhaas and the New Frontline of Transformation

© Flickr CC User Giulio Bernardi

When you abandon the in favour of the city, what do you leave behind? In a recent essay for Icon Magazine, OMA co-founder Rem Koolhaas deliberates on the intersection between the two, arguing that “our current obsession with only the city is highly irresponsible because you cannot understand the city without understanding the countryside.”

“The countryside is now the frontline of transformation,” Koolhaas says, describing a new type of hybridized urban-countryside where no stone is left unturned. Koolhaas refers to this land as ”the intermediate,” describing it as “a well-manicured place where surface appearances bear almost no relation to what is actually happening on the land and in the buildings.” The countryside, Koolhaas argues, is no longer a sober second thought for the urban dweller but a facsimile of the failures of city life. Read the essay in full, here.

Five Shortlisted for Marlborough College Science Building

Marlborough College via Wikipedia

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Nicholas Hare Architects, Orms, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Tim Ronalds Architects have been shortlisted in a competition to expand and develop the Marlborough College science building in , . “The current Science Block has a fascinating heritage but needs a new life to accommodate new teaching methods,” explained Malcolm Reading, the competition’s organizer. “The competition is all about finding a balance between the architectural grain of the existing eclectic campus and a confident and exciting piece of contemporary architecture.” The teams will now develop proposals. A winner will be announced in December.

The Architecture of Happy Hour: Plotted, Not Stirred

CAD Drinks. Image Courtesy of Shaan Hurley

Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, and Rem Koolhaas walk into a bar. What do they order? CAD Drinks, of course. It’s a Singapore Sling like you have never seen before: drawn to scale, in elevation, and divided meticulously by content – ice cubes and orange slice included. Alcoholic drinks are colour coded, inventoried, organized and rendered in this downloadable DWG for Autocad. Architects rejoice: happy hour is that much closer to lunch hour.

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Labour Minister Endorses UK-Wide Architecture Festival and More Competitions

Helen Goodman MP proposed a -wide festival of architecture instead of another festival in London, which already hosts a number of architecture and design festivals annually including the Camden Create Festival which began just this year. Image © KSR Architects

The UK‘s Shadow Culture Minister Helen Goodman has outlined a number of ideas that she would like to put into practice should her party win the next general election, reports the Architects’ Journal. The proposals, made at last week’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester, include increasing the number of open architecture held in the UK and holding a major UK-wide annual festival of architecture. Read on after the break for more on Goodman’s proposals.

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Natural Histories for Los Angeles Presents “Wet Horizons”

An installation and exhibition by Luis Callejas / LCLA office
Exhibition Opening: October 11, 7—10 pm
October 11—November 23, 2014
Neutra VDL Research House, , CA

Host: Natural Histories for Los Angeles presents Wet Horizons, an installation and exhibition by architect Luis Callejas / LCLA OFFICE in the Neutra VDL Research HouseLocated in the existing context of the Neutra-designed penthouse—its glazed walls, rooftop reflecting pools, and views of the Silver Lake Reservoir, Wet Horizons articulates environmental connections between Callejas’s landscape and architecture practice and the architecture of the house itself. Veiled textile drawings, re-inserted into the domestic space of the house, were created in collaboration with textile artist Charlotte Hansson. Combined with digital projections and models, the installation merges the reading of landscapes from distant geographies with actual views of Los Angeles.

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matterbetter Launches Competition in Honor of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Courtesy of matterbetter

matterbetter has launched an international open-ideas competition for a Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 () Memorial and Park in Amsterdam. was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down near the Ukraine–Russia border on July 17, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

The competition, open to all architects and students, is initiated to remember and honor the victims of the MH17 tragedy. It is hoped that the memorial park could form a new public space, free from the political overtone, at the Marine Establissement site in the center of Amsterdam that could be used as a place for remembrance, ceremonies, recreation, and private gatherings The deadline for registration is December 10th, 2014. Learn more about how to participate here on the competition’s official website