Zaha Hadid Architects have launched a new interactive website that has a large archival library of the many works, built and un-built by the firm. Looking through this vast collection of projects, it becomes obvious how much of Zaha Hadid’s work is public architecture: between urban projects, museums and galleries, this architect’s project are made for masses. We are the real users of her architecture. The new website allows visitors to not only appreciate her work, but participate in an internet forum of sharing a common appreciation for the work. Each project can be “starred” and added to YourZHA, which becomes a log of her work that the visitor to the site can then refer back to.
Zaha Hadid’s work has been well received by the people for whom the architecture was built. Last month, the new Riverside Museum celebrated 500,000 visitors within its first few weeks of opening. Read more about it here.
YourZHA is but one of the interactive features on the site. Browse through the hundreds of projects each coupled with descriptions and images. The website also features a news section where visitors can be kept up to date on lectures, competitions, galleries and phases of various projects. Visitors can also do a keyword search through the archives in a number of categories from architecture, design, masterplans, awards, publications, people and videos.
Check it out for yourself here: http://www.zaha-hadid.com/.
Tensions mounted between modernist and traditionalist camps earlier last month when Paul Finch, UK Chairman for the Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment, praised the fact that modernists had won bids to design buildings for the 2012 Olympics. In response, Robert Adam, member of the Traditional Architecture Group, and Michael Taylor, senior partner at Hopkins, the firm that designed the Olympic velodrome, met for a discussion on hegemony, timeliness, and pastiche moderated by Guardian staffer Lanre Bakare.
The conversation is lively and aggressive. Ironically, the ‘progressive’ Taylor comes off as complaisant (“Let’s agree vast parts of our cities are covered in very bland modern buildings with too much glass and steel.” “There are some buildings where there will be common ground – for example, the works of Brunel, or Crystal Palace.”), and opinionated (“Anyone would recognise the problems with modernism and see values in traditionalism which they like, but the problem is traditionalism is fixed and isn’t something that people think is moving forward.”) and Adams, a bit of a snob, (“MT: People are benefiting from cars, aeroplanes and other modern technology, and so to take the appearance and facades of your architecture as one separate element which should make a very clear and literal quotation back to history seems to be inconsistent. And I think people struggle with that. / RA: I think only architects struggle with that. Most people don’t have a problem with a Ferrari in the drive and a Georgian house behind it.) proves to be keenly aware of traditionalism’s place in contemporary Britain (“The prejudice towards traditionalists is rather like sexism. It’s just in the culture. If you’re in the profession, that’s just what you do. When you’re delivering the prejudice you don’t really notice it, but if you’re on the receiving end of it, then it’s a problem”). More an exhibition of conflicting ideologies than a conversation about contemporary viewpoints, the discussion is a fascinating look into how two feuding camps see themselves and their place in the world at large.
Sunland Park, N.M– Martin Resendiz, mayor of a small community near Las Cruces, admitted earlier this month to signing contracts with a San Diego–based parking design firm while drunk. The company, Synthesis +, is suing the city for nonpayment. Resendiz claims the contracts were never valid since the City Council did not approve them.
“The day I signed … I had way too much to drink. It was after 5 p.m. and I signed it (the contracts) and I didn’t know what I was signing,” Resendiz wrote in response to questions from Synthesis+ lawyers. “My sister had to pick me up.”
“Again, this was after two or three hours of us drinking, not exactly the best time to do business, not exactly the best time to read over legal documents, which he (Soltero) did not portray at any time to be legal documents,” Resendiz said in a deposition.
Soltero is a Synthesis+ executive. The deal is worth over $1 milllion; the drinking happened at Ardovino’s Restaurant in Sunland Park.
Ever think you could find a moment of peace and quiet to have an intimate conversation with a friend in the middle of Times Square? The designers that go by mmmm… must have considered the same thing. Starting August 16th, people visiting Times Square can enjoy a private moment with up to eight people in one of mmmm…’s Meeting Bowls supported by the Times Square Alliance. The 5-foot tall, 7-foot wide pieces of street furniture will be available as a visiting exhibition until September 16th between 8am and midnight.
In this effort to humanize the otherwise frenetic city of New York, the designers at mmmm… hope to inspire intimate dialogue and interaction in the commercial center. These semi-spherical forms are more than benches; they seat people across from one another, obscuring all the other events outside of the space. They even rock gently as people enter and leave the bowls.
“It is hard to tell what the value of something eventually will be”
– Gerrit Rietveld, 1937.
This new insight into a classic illustrates Gerrit Rietveld’s transition from humble cabinet maker’s son to Architect and leading designer in the De Stijl movement. The book and film compliment each other nicely, covering several different furniture designs both preceding and subsequent to the famed Red Blue Chair, including alternate versions of that particular design (unpainted, arm rest panels, etc.).
Soon after Mark Noad’s vision of the London Tube Map was viewed, debate ensued about whether the integrity of the original diagram was misused to create a hybrid between the original information as a concept of the underground train system and its pathways and the concept of a geographically accurate map. With a slightly more condensed font style, the map is intended to be more legible, especially on mobile devices. Eminent typographer and designer Erik Spiekermann headed the debate stating that Harry Beck original depiction of the Tube was not a map at all, “it’s a diagram. Not meant to show geographic relationships, but connections.”
Therein lies the schism between the concept of depiction and illustration. Fastco Design writer John Pavlus discusses the value of the designer’s intent – to produce something of use – rather than the initial concept of the first drawing. Most users of the train system diagram are likely to call it a map. The visual information implies that it will be used to guide travelers to particular destinations, thereby making it useful as a map. The initial intent of the information becomes irrelevant when its use and usefulness comes into play. Did Mark Noad achieve the clarification that the Beck’s original diagram was lacking by adding elements of a geographical map into it?
The question that Pavlus concludes with is how does the designer extend his or her role beyond solving problems; how does a designed artifact continue to evolve with each iteration, engage the public and continue to develop new and better uses?
(via Fastco Design)
This summer design/build program for architecture students aims to get their hands dirty with both design and construction experience. Relocating from their Brooklyn studio home at Direct Design Institute students and professorers participated in a one week building work shop at the Five Sisters Farm in Perrysville, New York. Funded by Kickstarter (today is the last day to donate!) +FARM provides students with the opportunity to learn about “direct design” by observation and the physical act of making a movable Chicken Coop and restoring an old farm house to be later used as an artist colony and hunter’s house.
A new vision of the map for London’s Tube has been posted to depict a more geographically accurate representation of the underground train system. Navigate through the map for yourself here: http://www.london-tubemap.com/.
The original map was designed by Harry Beck; he compromised geographical accuracy for a rationalized system of connection, transfers and passages on a map that in 1931 only depicted 7 train lines. While those principles remain in use today, the underground subway system has doubled in size. The increased complexity of the system increased has amplified these inaccuracies and has received a lot of criticism for its diagrammatic quality and lack of correlation with London’s street level.
This updated map attempts to keep some of the principles of clarity that Beck designed as part of the original map, such as fixed line angles – in this case 30 and 60 degrees instead of the original 45. But the map attempts to establish a relationship between relative distances through the train and on the street, so that users can identify which routes are faster for walking or hopping on the Tube.
For more on the discussion what design means, sparked by the new vision for London’s Tube Map, follow this link: London Tube Map Sparks Debate: “Design” and the Multi-screen World.
Architect Piero Ceratti shared with us his concept design, titled ‘Eagle Nest Hut’, for a mountain hut/shelter powered by wind turbines. This alpine hut can be installed in very extreme sites while minimizing the point of contact with the rocky ground. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)
HIK Ontwerpers capitalized on the opportunity to provide a unique and playful experience for commuters in their hometown of Utrecht. Part of a complete renovation of the Overvecht railway station the transfer accelerator, the official name given to the slide by ProRail the railway maintenance company, provides a fun and unforgettable way of getting to where you are going. The slide was installed as the final piece of the station renovation and opened earlier this month.
A video and additional photographs of the transfer accelerator following the break.
Do you remember playing with Lego as a child? Recently the firms Atmos Studio, Make, Foster + Partners, AOC, Adjaye Associates, FAT and DSDHA took some time out from designing real buildings to create their own interpretation of some of the world’s most notable architectural icons in the form of Lego for an Icon Eye initiative.
I am constantly amazed by the extremes architects go to to realize their “vision” or to impress or even merely serve a client. Clients demand so much and architects seem to willingly bend to insane schedules that tax their people to the maximum. In the age of extreme everything, architecture is extreme working.
Of course sometimes good things can emerge from the pressures of compressing schedules. There are synergistic flows that can magically occur when people are working under the pressure of an impending deadline. Granted, sometimes pressure is a good thing that allows creativity to emerge. (more…)
Sustainability and Form have dominated architectural discourse, trapping the discipline between utopian play-acting—promising what it cannot deliver—and computerized “gaming” of design extremism.”
– Mark Jarzombek, “ECO-Pop” in Cornell Journal of Architecture 8:RE, January 2011.
In what he calls ECO-POP, Mark Jarzombek, associate dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT (i.e. someone with credentials), draws attention to how sustainability is deployed as an ideology and visual trope more than as a repertoire of achievable, well-thought-out strategies. This is my unabashedly biased interpretation of his manifesto-like article—in fact, let’s just call it a manifesto. (more…)
Manhattanhenge, is the term used to describe a biannual occurrence in New York City when the sun aligns with the east-west streets of Manhattan’s main grid. Adopted in 1811 the famous street grid of Manhattan, the Commissioners’ Plan, was the original design plan for the streets in which the grid plan is offset at 29.0 degrees from true east-west. Twice a year photographers gather to witness this urban solar phenomenon, when the sun sets perfectly between the skyscraper corridors and illuminates the north-south facades of the streets. Tripods and pedestrians filled the crosswalks this past Wednesday to catch a glimpse of this moment.
Víctor Enrich recently shared with us his architecture 3D illustrations and visualizations. Over the years he has experimented with a variety of mediums resulting in these 3D creations. A full description of his work and further illustrations following the break.
Adrian Lahoud and Samuel Szwarcbord shared with us their honorable mention entry for the recent Geopolitical Borders Competition organized by Think Space and judged by Teddy Cruz. This project is about two lines, one existing and one proposed. The first line is invisible. It runs horizontally from east to west across the Mediterranean Sea. Like the contour lines on a weather forecast, it bends and twists according to the vast differentials of pressure between North and South. From the perspective of the African continent, Europe holds a minimal promise of opportunity that cannot be found at home. From the point of view of Europe, North Africa represents a local pool of labor power, ready to be dipped into at will, a steady reserve of energy (increasingly solar) and kilometers of unspoiled coast ready for development. Like any bad relationship, the asymmetry is secured through structural violence. This violence must be flexible enough to accommodate the contradictions and dynamics of both parties. Changing domestic imperatives, economic demands and legal requirements form plastic limits through which the stability of the line must be coordinated.
“Made in China.” For so many in Western nations, this phrase conjures up a plethora of horrific images. There is the Human Rights argument: low wages, inhumane working conditions, and so forth. Then there is the issue of quality, as in, there is none.
First let’s talk about human rights in terms of manufacturing. The favored discourse is that Chinese factories exploit their employees and hence the resultant quality of the goods is far inferior. Sensational stories that support this conclusion always seem to cross international lines. Moreover, there are basic protestations of Human Rights’ violations and then the specter of Tibet is raised.
The Economist has some really interesting articles on doing business. The latest are on the 100th anniversary of IBM and another which measures the success of multinational business vs. philanthropy in changing society for the better. IBM came out the winner in the latter one. Not, however, because it is a multinational corporation but because of the way it does business. IBM treats its employees well which directly shapes its influence on the larger, now global, community. Moreover, while many think of IBM as a “tech” company and its stock is often listed as such, IBM actually categorizes itself as a service company.
There are five major strategies that have ensured IBM’s ability to withstand the vicissitudes of a dynamic business sector, three of which directly apply to architecture firms. First, IBM puts its customers first and foremost. They do this by using a significant number of their employees to foster and maintain client relationships. That makes it more difficult for other companies to poach their customers. Why? Because those other companies don’t think developing and keeping clients happy is a good use of their resources, i.e. employees. IBM knows better. Clients trust them precisely because of their long relationship. So when clients need something, they turn to IBM. That means a steady client-base of loyal customers who in turn recommend IBM to their clients and friends. (more…)
My old firm, the one I got laid off from almost exactly two years ago, has had another round of layoffs. I’ve lost count how many that is (over ten I think), but since it included several principles, I’m guessing that this is either a death knell or time for a major restructuring of that office.
And that got me thinking about my own situation. Again. Because if there’s one thing that triggers intense feelings when you’re unemployed, especially when it’s been a really long time, it’s hearing other people at your old firm have suffered the same sad fate. (more…)