With the goal of harnessing and exploring the benefits of clay as a raw material, which is characteristic of Colombia's Cúcuta region, Architects Miguel Niño and Johanna Navarro created Sumart Diseño y Arquitectura SAS, a studio that designs and develops sustainable architectural solutions.
One of their most successful projects is the Bloque Termodisipador BT, a ceramic block designed with an irregular cross section that allows ventilation to pass through the brick, reducing the amount of heat that enters the interior of the building.
As part of our Architectural Photographers interview series, we spoke with Rodrigo Dávila, an architecture photographer based in Bogotá. When he was a teenager, Dávila inherited a Rolleiflex medium-format camera from his grandfather and never looked back. After working as an architect for two years and taking pictures of landscapes in his free time, Rodrigo moved to Melbourne, Australia to study photography at RMIT University. Back in Colombia, Dávila established a photography business through which he expresses his passion for design, Scandinavian architecture and contemporary buildings.
“Architectural photography works in the opposite way of designing a building. Instead of projecting in order to construct a building, a photographer analyzes the image in order to deconstruct the building and understand the architect’s intention," explained Dávila.
Long touted for its strength and versatility, concrete has had an integral role in construction and design as far back as the Roman times. And in recent years, concrete’s potential has reached new heights, with many companies developing innovative uses and applications for the material, ranging from concrete reinforced with bamboo to ultra-porous concrete and concrete cloth.
Held annually, the CEMEX Building Awards recognize architecture and construction projects from around the world that use concrete technologies in creative and innovative ways, with a focus on sustainable design and social well-being. We spoke with three of the architecture firms behind winning designs of the 2014 CEMEX Building Awards to see how concrete influenced their design and why they believe concrete to be an important construction material.
Hiding out from the gentle Bogotá rain, a cat with turquoise eyes and a black and white coat prowls along the ledge of an office hidden in the midst of lush vegetation. A large window with a wooden frame filters the light and illuminates the interior: a desk, hundreds of books, manila folders, and backlit pictures. Sitting comfortably in his chair, 91-year-old Colombian architect Germán Samper takes a pencil, presses it to the surface of a sheet of paper, and begins to explain everything he is saying by drawing for us in the most clear and simple manner possible.
Whether he's giving instructions on taking a taxi in Bogotá or explaining the recent modifications to the historic Colsubisdio citadel, Samper -- a master of Colombian architecture -- can express ideas on paper with an ease that makes us think that drawing might be very simple, but it's really just a great trick.
Perseverance is key and Samper knows this from experience. "I don't understand why architects don't draw more if it is truly a pleasure," he ponders.
After the break, a conversation with Germán Samper and a series of unedited sketches by the Colombian architect.
Filling Station(s), the latest ideas-based challenge organised by Combo Competitions, asked participants to "rethink refueling" in a competition which sought to re-imagine the ubiquitous filling station. The historical rise of this 20th century typology, from simple fuel dispensers to palatial rest-stops on the highway, grew with the proliferation of the car and became symbols for societal progression, personal status, and "a bright future." Although the number of vehicles worldwide "surpassed one billion in 2010, there has been a steady decline in filling stations since the end of the last century." As such, perhaps this is the time to start to rethink how these fragments of the international mobility infrastructure operate?