A+U 526: Retreat – Primal Concept and Experimental Design

From the publisher. July issue of a+u is focused on retreats, in particular the places where people spend their free time. Retreats, where functional necessities are not the priority, portray the essential lifestyle that the residents desire. And, from there, an image of a house reflecting back the everyday emerges.

The sites abundant in nature present vast landscape to the residents. At the same time, they lack basic infrastructure, materials, or technology that would be readily available when designing a house in . Because of such shortages, architects are encouraged to put their experimental concepts into practice.

This issue explores how the ideal image of a house and architect’s experimental concept are unified and conceived as a retreat when the situation is “missing” something.

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JA 94: Learning from the Neighborhood

From the publisher. Since the mid-20th century, Japan’s postwar capitalism promoted home ownership, and extensive residential areas were developed around every major city for 70 years. Each area is an aggregation of individual houses – in other words an aggregation of different architectural characteristics and a mixture of residents with their own personalities.

Among the photographs of house exteriors published in the issues of Shinkenchiku and Jutakutokushu since 2001, we selected those that show the relationship between the home and its surroundings. In this issue, we feature the images with an analysis of what “Compositional Factor” of what “Element” has undergone what kind of “Manipulation”.

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A+U 525: Vienna Transition Of Theory And Expression

From the publisher. Between the late 19th century and early 20th century, was the epicenter of new architectural movements. Architects like Gottfried Semper, Otto Wagner, and Adolf Loos presented pioneering theories and expressions which influenced the world. Furthermore, cityscape of had been the subject of architects’ creation. They form the layers in ’s urban structure, and architects who design in this city must interpret this structure and upon which further form new layers.

June 2014 issue of a+u  introduces the theories and their expressions of architecture in Vienna, and their transition from the pre-modern to the modern to the present, through 60+ newly-photographed works, two on “transformation of architectural expression through building facades” and “recent developments for urban expansion zones”, and interviews with contemporary architects.

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Urban Design for an Urban Century: Shaping More Livable, Equitable, and Resilient Cities

Courtesy of Wiley

In Urban for an Urban Century: Shaping More Livable, Equitable, and Resilient Cities (2nd Edition), by Lance Jay Brown, David Dixon, historical trends and practices are used to explain current theories of . The following excerpt illustrates one such historical trend, detailing exactly how the advent of railroads and skyscrapers following the Industrial Revolution radically changed the urban landscape.

Before the Industrial Revolution, forces such as trade, agriculture, and defense determined the shape of cities in North America and Europe, whether planned or unplanned. How far a person could reasonably walk and the requirements of carts, wagons, and herds of animals heavily influenced the layout and dimensions of city streets regardless of the form the larger city took. Defensive strategy and technology also dictated form, but the resulting walls — and the need to guard them — often imposed smaller footprints than cities might otherwise have produced.

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The Machine in the Ocean: On The Petropolis of Tomorrow

Clocking in at just under six hundred pages, and Mary Casper’s The Petropolis of Tomorrow (Actar, 2013) presents a series of dueling monstrosities—land and sea; ecology and industry; isolation and circulation—at the hard-edged site of their collision. The product of an intensive research studio directed by Bhatia at the Rice School of Architecture, Petropolis documents and explores Brazil’s rapidly developing network of offshore petroleum and natural gas drilling infrastructures as a site ripe for the deployment of architectural expertise and imagination. Conducted as part of a broad collaborative research investigation on resource extraction initiated by the South America Project (SAP), the studio, as introduced by SAP Co-Director Felipe Correa, is a speculative experiment that “tests an extreme scenario” with the aim of identifying “new hybrids between industry and for an alternative twenty-first century extraction town.” Complementing the studio work, the editors have marshaled an impressive array of text and photo contributors whose essays offer distinctive takes on the book’s three thematic threads: archipelago , harvesting , and logistical .

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From “The Landscape Imagination” – James Corner’s Essay on the High Line

© Russel Fernandez/ Princeton Architectural Press

The following is an excerpt from The Landscape Imagination: The Collected Essays of James Corner 1990–2010 by James Corner. In this passage, Corner discusses the work of John Dixon Hunt, and the qualities of Hunt’s work that he seeks to incorporate into his own (including his firm’s - James Corner Field Operations - redesign of the New York High Line).

Over the past two decades, James Corner has reinvented the field of landscape architecture. His highly influential writings of the 1990s, included in our bestselling Recovering Landscape, together with a post-millennial series of built projects, such as New York’s celebrated High Line, prove that the best way to address the problems facing our is to embrace their industrial past. Collecting Corner’s written scholarship from the early 1990s through 2010, The Landscape Imagination addresses critical issues in landscape architecture and reflects on how his writings have informed the built work of his thriving New York based practice, Field Operations.

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Reinstating the Relevance of Academic Journals: trans magazin

Courtesy of trans magazine

trans magazin, a semi-annual journal published by the Department of Architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ, seeks to address “issues in architecture and urban development from a variety of perspectives.” Managed by an independent student editorial team since 1997, the publication studies and discusses humanities, politics, philosophy and the arts. It is “a platform for interdisciplinary discourse” packaged in a beautifully printed, weighty periodical.

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Farming Cuba: Urban Agriculture from the Ground Up

Courtesy of Russel Fernandez/ Princeton Architectural Press

The following is an excerpt from Carey Clouse’s Farming Cuba: Urban Agriculture from the Ground Up, which explores Cuba’s impromptu agricultural development after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the challenges that development poses for modern day architects and urban planners.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Cuba found itself solely responsible for feeding a nation that had grown dependent on imports and trade subsidies. With fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides disappearing overnight, citizens began growing their own organic produce anywhere they could find space, on rooftops, balconies, vacant lots, and even school playgrounds. By 1998 there were more than 8,000 urban farms in Havana producing nearly half of the country’s vegetables. What began as a grassroots initiative had, in less than a decade, grown into the largest sustainable agriculture initiative ever undertaken, making Cuba the world leader in urban farming. Featuring a wealth of rarely seen material and intimate portraits of the environment, Farming Cuba details the innovative strategies and explores the social, political, and environmental factors that helped shape this pioneering urban farming program.

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Justin McGuirk’s Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture

Elemental’s houses in Quinta Monroy, Iquique. © Cristóbal Palma

In Radical Cities, Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of the people and ideas shaping the way cities are evolving: “after decades of social and political failure, a new generation has revitalised architecture and in order to address persistent poverty and inequality. Together, these activists, pragmatists and social idealists are performing bold experiments that the rest of the world may learn from.” The following is an excerpt from Radical Cities on  – the great, but all-but-forgotten experimental housing project in Lima that counted James Stirling and Aldo van Eyck among its contributors.

In a northern suburb of Lima is a housing estate that might have changed the face of cities in the developing world. Its residents go about their lives feeling lucky that they live where they do, but oblivious to the fact that they occupy the last great experiment in social housing. If you drove past it today, you might not even notice it. And yet the Proyecto Experimental de Vivienda – PREVI for short – has a radical pedigree. Some of the best architects of the day slaved over it. Now it is largely forgotten.

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The Draftery: Dispelling the Belief That Architectural Drawing is Dead

Fig. 03. Image Courtesy of The Draftery

The Draftery, a printed platform to “discuss the role of architectural drawing today”, brings together a fascinating collection of images and words in a publication on three distinct platforms. Figures, Captions and Archive facilitate a multi-disciplinary conversation about how drawings are made and their role in the built environment. Now approaching their third anniversary, how far have they come and where is the project headed?

January 2013 saw the re-launch of The Draftery and the total reconstruction of the project. Their crisp publications now have a strong editorial thread which compliments the carefully curated collections of architectural drawings. Seeking to “demonstrate that drawing, more than mere representation, is a method of acting in the world”, good drawings provide a moment of visual solice in a fast paced profession. 

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BI’s First Print Edition Released – FREE: Architecture on the Loose

Courtesy of

BI is a publication focused on the exchanges between architecture and its wider cultural context; it consists of short extemporaneous texts with longer studied pieces from a multitude of perspectives. The following is an excerpt from its latest (and first print) edition, FREE, written by the editors-in-chief E. Sean Bailey and Erandi de Silva.

There is implicit conflict in the word ‘free’. While culturally we celebrate the infinite opportunities afforded by the ‘freedom to’, the term also alludes to emancipation, a break from a captive state, or a ‘freedom from’. ‘Free’ is, at its core, an architectural concept. Architecture is a discipline directly engaged with shaping enclosure, of erecting and toppling barriers or—more explicitly—of extending and limiting ‘freedoms’.

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The Architecture of Pompidou Metz: An Excerpt from “The Architecture of Art Museums – A Decade of Design: 2000 – 2010″

© Didier Boy De La Tour

In honor of International Museum Day, we’re taking a look back at the 21st century’s most exciting museums. The following is an excerpt from the recently released book, The Architecture of Art – A Decade of Design: 2000 – 2010 (Routledge) by Ronnie Self, a Houston-based architect. Each chapter of the book provides technical, comprehensive coverage of a particular influential art museum. In total, eighteen of the most important art of the early twenty-first century - including works from Tadao Ando, Herzog & de Meuron, SANAA, Steven Holl, and many other high-profile architects - are explored. The following is a condensed version of the chapter detailing Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines’ 2010 classic, Centre Pompidou-Metz.

The Pompidou Center – Metz was a first experiment in French cultural decentralization. In the late 1990’s, with the prospect of closing Piano and Roger’s building in Paris for renovations, the question arose of how to maintain some of the 60,000 works in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art available for public viewing. A concept of “hors les murs” or “beyond the walls” was developed to exhibit works in other French . The temporary closing of the Pompidou Center – Paris spurred reflections on ways to present the national collection to a wider audience in general. Eventually a second Pompidou Center in another French city was imagined.

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A+U 524: New Landscapes of Wooden Architecture

From the publisher. May 2014 issue of a+u is focused on wooden architecture from around the world that creates new landscapes.

In addition to nine built works, the issue features two competitions foreseeing the timber-nization of and three essays. The essays discuss different aspects of technology: adaptive timber structure of ultra-light shell by University of Stuttgart, harmonizing the joints of prefabricated wooden elements by collaboration of Finland’s timber industry, university and government, and tall building technology in Canada and other countries. When these technologies become practical and realized as architecture, we will witness a completely new landscape.

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JA 93: KAZUO SHINOHARA – Complete Works in Original Publications

From the publisher. JA93 Spring 2014 issue features 55 works by , one of the most influential architects in the generation after the Metabolists. The issue consists of photographs and drawings which appeared in the original issues of Shinkenchiku and original descriptive texts by the architect.

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Minha Casa, Nossa Cidade: Brazil’s Social Housing Policy & The Failures of the Private-Public System

Courtesy of Ruby Press

In 2009, the Brazilian government launched the social housing program “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (“My House, My Life”), which aims to build 3.4 million housing units by the end of 2014. Minha Casa—Nossa Cidade (Ruby Press, 2014), produced by the MAS Urban Design program at the ETH Zurich, examines the project at a critical time and presents ways to improve its design and implementation. Divided into three chapters, the book reviews the , guidelines, and construction of the “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” program (MCMV) through long-form essays, opinion pieces, interviews, diagrams, and photographic image material. The following excerpt, written by Sandra Becker, proposes an answer to the question of why the program – despite its aims to meet the huge demand for housing for low-income families - has thus far failed to provide the Brazilian people the “quality cities [they] desire.” 

From the Publisher. In June 2013, Brazil saw a wave of protests unprecedented in the country’s history. Millions of people filled the streets demanding better education, public transportation, and healthcare. While the rage driving the protests was directed at politicians, it is unlikely that the problem can be reduced to the failure of the political system. Instead, shouldn’t the protests point out the inequalities caused by the neoliberal policies that dominate the global economy?

In the first quarter of 2009, responding to the global financial crisis that had begun the previous year, the Brazilian government launched an ambitious social housing program to encourage the economy’s construction sector. The program, “Minha Casa, Minha Vida,” was initially developed to build one million houses. In September 2011, the program launched its second phase with a goal of providing another 2.4 million housing units. The program aims to confront a historical deficiency in housing, a shortage of approximately 5.8 million dwellings.

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A Manifesto For Icons and Architecture Infatuated By Form

The following is an excerpt from WAI Architecture Think Tank‘s book Pure Hardcore Icons. This manifesto explores architecture’s recurrent obsession with pure geometric form. Pure Hardcore Icons aims to raise awareness about the dialectic of pure form and architecture, hoping that its potential and limitations could be fully grasped either in practice, in the academia, or as a cultural and intellectual exercise. 

Never before has the combination of technology and mass media enhanced such a prolific production and diffusion of monuments to “signature” architecture. school desks, computer screens, and magazine pages around the globe have been flooded with torrents of buildings in pure shapes. Redundant forms —either as poured concrete or as virtual bytes— pop-up with the speed it takes to wire-cut Styrofoam or master 3d modeling software. Paradoxically, this abrupt surge of iconographic architectural paraphernalia has overshadowed the demise of the manifesto, one of architecture’s most powerful and straightforward tools to declare its intentions.

Ever since Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) was hailed as the last great architectural narrative, architectural theory has been unsuccessfully trying to rationalize the often similar icons either as the by-products of the unpredictability of the contemporary city or as the result of suspiciously momentary (and opportunistic) trends that oscillate from the so-called green design to the supposed technology-aided revolution of parametricism. [1]

But, are vague explanations of conditions external to architecture enough to elucidate the formal similarities between so many iconic buildings? Are the CCTV tower and the Max Reinhardt Haus similar just by coincidence? Or, is there an underlying relationship between Foster and Partners’ Palace of Peace and Reconciliation , Buckminster Fuller’s Tetrahedron City and Giza’s Pyramids? How to explain the disappearance of any attempt to give theoretical coherence to these buildings, at the moment when formal consistence seems to suggest the possibility of a new architectural ontology? What about understanding architecture’s concealed plot about form?

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A+U 523: Juliaan Lampens

From the publisher. April 2014 issue of A+U is a monograph of Belgium architect .

Featured works include: House Juliaan Lampens – Van Hove, House Vandenhaute – Kiebooms, and Kerselare Chapel. A+U visited Lampens in Eke, not far from Ghent, last year to interview him. Two , one by his former staff and the other by architecture researchers, depict the architect who, throughout his career, often avoided press exposer.

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A Seductive Abstraction: Architecture & Photography’s Tacit Pact

Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily has partnered with The Architectural Review to bring you short thematic introductions to the magazine’s monthly editions.  Up now: AR’s April 2014 issue, which examines the complexities of architecture photography. Editor Catherine Slessor asks “what happens when controlled views of buildings are redefined by and adapted to new technologies?”

Roland Barthes once observed that there is no such thing as a photograph. ‘Whatever it grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see’, he wrote in Camera Lucida. What we do see is the scrutinising gaze of the photographer, which can beguile or unsettle, but should always evoke some kind of response.

As a scientific and ‘truthful’ medium, photography has served architecture well, especially in the Modernist era when the evolving medium synthesised perfectly with a new approach to . Yet the relationship between architecture and photography is an inherently compromised one. Unlike art practice, architectural photography lends itself less to searching critical enquiry, being essentially an unspoken pact between architect, photographer and publisher to render buildings in a way that discreetly flatters architectural ambition and sells copies of or magazines.

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