Fernando Romero is part of the new generation of young Mexican architects that have reshaped the profession in a country with a longstanding tradition.
Fernando studied at the Universidad Iberoamericana, and shortly after graduating went to Europe, ending up working at OMA where he became a project leader of the Porto House of Music (1996-1999). In 2000, he went back to Mexico where he established his own firm FR-EE which as of today has built more than ten million square feet, with offices in New York and Mexico City, and many on-going projects.
The practice has a strong focus on research, and the process of each building is the result of an integrated workflow with a multidisciplinary team. These processes are documented on a series of publications by the firm, including You Are the Context , launched at the Guggenheim a few months ago.
Some of his recent works include the G20 International Convention Center, the iconic Soumaya Museum and the Jumex Tower.
In this interview, Fernando shares with us his views on architecture, the role of the architect, and how he has setup this particular type of practice.
Intrigued by the hexagonal plan and complex structure of Shigeru Ban’s Centre Pompidou Metz in France, ANTIVJ visual artists Simon Geilfus and Yannick Jacquet, and composer Thomas Vaquié transformed the building’s undulating facade into a digital spectacular with a light show that “abolishes notions of scale by contrasting micro-architecture with human construction”. The piece was loosely inspired by the research of deep-sea expert Peter A. Rona, whose work explores the fascinating marks left by unknown, hexagonal-shaped sea creature called Paleodictyon Nodosum, which Rona believes is designed to cultivate bacteria.
Learn more and watch the making of after the break…
House T, designed by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects, is a unique two person house and office located in Tokyo, Japan. Considering the house is only accessible by a narrow alley and is surrounded on all sides by other buildings, the space was a major challenge for this design. However, the house turned out to be surprisingly airy and open thanks to having only one central column supporting catwalk floors that frame the limited space instead of occupying it. Each floor can be navigated using 4.6 foot tall openings and floors are connected by a stair or ladder, one of which leads to a roof terrace. Take a look at this video by JA+U and our earlier article for a better understanding of this novel space! (more…)
Charles and Ray Eames, the husband and wife duo, left an indelible mark on furniture design and modern architecture. Their work has been highly regarded for its invention and regard for the principles of modernism. This TEDx Talk, delivered by their grandson Eames Demetrios, humanizes these idolized designers – bringing family, and their early struggles as designers to the forefront of the conversation.With a collection of rarely seen footage, the TEDx Talk reveals Charles and Ray’s relationship and life prior to designing the famous Eames Chair.
More after the break, including a vintage video interview with the Eames.
Alastair Parvin, co-founder of WikiHouse gave his TED Talk last week (one of the many architecturally relevant talks at TED 2013). Although the video of his latest talk is not yet available, to whet your appetite we present you with his speech from last year at TED@London. In it he explains the conditions of architectural and material culture that led to the foundation of WikiHouse, an open source database of house designs that can be manufactured with a CNC cutter and assembled in a day.
Parvin says: “If design’s great project in the 20th century was actually the democratization of consumption… I believe design’s great project in the 21st century is the democratization of production.” Last year, the WikiHouse project was one winner of TED’s City 2.0 Awards.
Architecture is bigger than itself.
The future will pose tremendous challenges to how architecture and cities are conceived, requiring comprehensive and scalable solutions, often found outside of what we traditionally call “architecture”. So after hundreds of interviews with architects that we’ve conducted, we realized that in order to confront these challenges we needed to expand our focus. For the first time, we invited to our office an “architect” of life, Andrew Hessel, co-chair of the Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Program at Singularity University and leader in the field of synthetic biology (the design of life through the use of information technology).
Andrew’s work focuses on designing viruses with the potential to cure cancer; however, he is fascinated by the ways in which genetic engineering could actually help human beings shape their environment, and how biotechnology will allow us to merge the natural and built worlds:
“We don’t live in nature any more – we put boxes around it. But now we can actually engineer nature to sustain our needs. All we have to do is design the code and it will self-create. Our visions today – if we can encapsulate them in a seed – [will] grow to actually fulfill that vision. [...] One day, who knows, maybe we’ll plant a seed and grow a sky scraper, that has all the nutrients it needs to stay warm, to literally react to our environment, maybe even keep an eye on us, protect us, nurture us. It’s just all in the design.”
What if we really could “plant” and “grow” a house? What if we could use modified trees as street lamps? Clearly, this disrupts the way we traditionally conceive of architecture, but it also opens many doors for a more sustainable future.
Andrew has recently joined Autodesk as a researcher for “creating platforms for imagining, designing, and creating molecular and living systems”. Autodesk is entering the nanoscale engineering business and exploring into software for printing tissue and 4D materials. So, if the company that produces the most used tools for the architecture industry is now exploring and making these new worlds accessible, why shouldn’t architecture embrace it?
In this jaunty little clip, Louis Kahn stresses the importance of honoring your materials to a group of students at the University of Pennsylvania.
Estonia-born in 1901, Louis Kahn had a steadfast belief that all materials had their own destiny and wouldn’t tolerate any attempt to deviate from that. During the age of clean modernism and the use of cutting edge materials, his architecture was often dismissed for being overly symbolic and heavily venerating buildings of the past. Influenced by the arid nature of many of his sites, Kahn’s buildings often took the form of cavernous brick shells with large geometrical cut outs, which he would like to describe them – in his bizarre Kahn-way - as ruins in reverse.
Here are a few of Kahn’s intriguing brick creations:
While in Mexico City, we had the chance to visit Michel Rojkind ’s office in La Condesa to interview him and jam on his recording studio hidden in the architecture workshop. We have been big fans of Michel’s work, the result of constant investigation and iteration pushed by by the collaborative character of his studio and multiplied by Michel’s passion for architecture.
Michel is part of a fantastic new generation of Mexican architects that brings fresh ideas to a context with a strong tradition. He started his architecture studies while also being the drummer of a well known Mexican rock band, graduating from the Universidad Iberoamericana in 1994. Between 1999 and 2002 he worked with Isaac Broid and Miquel Adriá on Adriá+Broid+Rojkind Arquitectos, and he started his own studio Rojkind Arquitectos in 2002.
Since then, the firm has been on a strong path of innovation and exploration of architectural programs and building techniques, successfully translating the complex forms of these new ideas into realities that can be built with local manufacturing skills.
Michel is very good at communicating his ideas, something very important to deliver the vision he has for his projects, but he is also very good at transmitting his passion, something that anyone who has been on his lectures will agree, inspiring young architects to demonstrate that it is possible to run the kind of studio that you want to run, despite all the problems and frustrations you will face along the way.
Recent projects by Michel Rojkind at ArchDaily:
Two Izu retirees hired architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima to design them a home equipped with a neighborhood bookshop and cafe. The Japanese practice stepped up to the challenge and constructed an elegant, curved structure whose white walls and wooden ceiling hug the hundred degree undulating street on which its located and embraces the wooded forest it backs to. The home – which features two bedrooms, a kitchen, cafe, bookshop and atelier – is accessed beneath a bridged part of the structure and organized as a sequence. Take a tour through this interesting space with this short video made by JA+U Magazine.
Produced by Omar Kakar of OHM Studio Collaborative, the video above features the motto of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, “Starting from small things”. The film begins to grasp the view of a man’s goal to “recover the traditional Japanese building.” From philosophy of nature and materiality to personal taste in film and music, Kuma travels to San Diego to share his influences and insight on the world of architecture with design students from Woodbury School of Architecture as part of their 2012 lecture series. Kuma takes you on a tour of the inspirational Salk Institute by Kahn, while mentioning a few of his favorite works. An Archdaily interview with Kuma can be viewed here.
1960’s Chicago: cars zooming down Lake Shore Drive, crowds heading into the Opera House, people observing artworks in the Art Institute, and Chicagoans laying around Grant Park on a sunny day. These are just a few of the scenes captured by amateur filmmaker Margaret Conneely in her film The City to See in ’63. The people, neighborhoods, and architecture of Chicago are all captured in this well-crafted 12-minute, 16mm color film taped in 1962.
The film captures some key architectural sites in Chicago, including the construction of Marina City. In addition, there are clips of a few buildings that no longer exist such as the Chicago Sun-Times building, demolished in 2004; White Sox Park, demolished in 1991; and the first McCormick place, wrecked in 1967.
Conneely also covers different neighborhoods of Chicago including Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Garfield Park, and old Maxwell Street.
Steven Holl Architects collaborated with Spirit of Space to create two short films that capture the essence of Chengdu’s newest sustainable micro-city: Sliced Porosity Block. Shaped by the distribution of natural light, this multi-use complex of five sun-carved concrete towers defines itself by the formation of three large public valleys that, not only supports a hybrid of different functions, but anchors the building into the surrounding urban fabric.
View an intimate account of these poetic spaces in the film above and then discover the ideas that inspired them in a conversation with Steven Holl below. The interview also includes an exclusive take on Holl’s post-completion thoughts of Lebbeus Woods’ last built installation: the Light Pavilion.
More information and images of Sliced Porosity Block can be found here on ArchDaily.
The Creators Project released two new documentaries this week which feature the brightest new minds in design and architecture. The first piece investigates the work of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and interdisciplinary design firm behind NYC’s High Line and Lincoln Center, and more. The second piece introduces us to the digital deviants OKFocus behind their new alpha-channel video experience for Tanlines’ “Not The Same.” The first video is above and the second video can be viewed after the break. (more…)
BBC’s Sarah Montague interviews Renzo Piano, the mastermind behind London’s most controversial and newest skyscraper: ‘The Shard’. Prior to the interview, Montague spotted Piano blending into the crowd during the opening of the 310-meter skyscraper “spying” on the onlookers. When asked about this moment, Piano revealed the great advice he received from the prominent Italian film director Roberto Rossellini upon the completion of the Pompidou Center in Paris: “You do not look at the building, you look at the people looking at the building.” It was during this moment that Piano observed “surprise” and “wonder, but not fear” amongst the onlookers – a reaction he seemed to be content with.
Despite Piano’s attempt to refrain from controversy, it is hard to avoid when your design intends to celebrate a “shift in society” as does the ‘Shard’. Change tends to stir mixed emotions and spark debate. However, being part of this “human adventure” as an architect is what Piano finds most rewarding. He states: “You don’t change the world as an architect, but you celebrate the change of the world.”
How can a small 420 square foot apartment transform into eight comfortable rooms? It takes smart design solutions that incorporates modulation and interior planning that conforms to everyday needs in an increasingly competitive environment of living space. Founder of Treehugger.com, Graham Hill takes the viewer on a tour of his “Life Edited” apartment that provides a sustainable living solution to compact apartments in urban environments like New York City. This apartment provides all the amenities necessary with some additional effort of converting rooms to fit everyday needs. Interested in seeing this apartment transform into a living room, bedroom, kitchen, dining room and guest room? Join us after the break to find out.