The city and civilization are concomitant phenomena. The city can be seen as a receptacle that both accommodates and transmits civilization. In fact, as man differs from other creatures in his ability to learn indefinitely, his perfectibility (ants that lived six thousand years ago had the same features of current ants: they are confined to a narrow range of behaviors dictated by their genetic programs), he acquired the power to extrapolate nature and thus build in his own way, creating history. As every human life is unique and no one can predetermine how it will be carried out, it could be said that the human being bears a historical duality: the individual history, or education, and the collective history, or culture.
Produced by Dutch journalist Peter Veenendaal, City of Light is a documentary that covers the design, construction, and social effects of Willem Marinus Dudok’s De Bijenkorf in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. De Bijenkorf opened in Rotterdam in 1930, and after barely surviving the Second World War, it was destroyed in 1960 to make way for a Metro Station and a new store designed by Marcel Breuer and largely forgotten. City of Light presents Dudok’s shopping center as an important model for retail architecture that came about during the formative years of the shopping mall, and includes interviews with historians, former employees, and local enthusiasts to bring the building back to life.
Despite being relatively unknown today, Dudok’s De Bijenkorf was important not only for the architectural community, but also for the city of Rotterdam. In Veenendaal’s documentary, architectural historian Herman van Bergeijk remarks that at the time of its construction, De Bijenkorf was the “largest and most modern department store in Europe." The store was immensely popular with locals; according to the video over 70,000 people visited on opening day to explore the building, and over time, it became an icon of Rotterdam's growing commercial success.
In our article for this cliff-hanging project by Modscape published last year, we said that all it really needed was James Bond and an invisible Aston Martin in the garage. Well, the images presented by OPA (Open Platform for Architecture) for their new project offer us James Bond and a (sadly visible) Ferrari. Perhaps it's not quite what we expected, but either way it's a big step forward for the super-villains lair market: Casa Brutale gives us wall-to-wall water and concrete set into cliffs above the Aegean Sea in what OPA promises will be a literally ground-breaking development.
In 1951, Mies van der Rohe completed a house in Plano, Illinois that was the epitome of his modernist ideals; with a steel structure surrounded entirely by glass walls the building perfectly connected the user with its idyllic natural setting, and it was - and is - venerated as a masterwork. A lesser-known story about the work is how its owner Dr Edith Farnsworth attempted to sue her architect, in a story of bitterness and unrequited love - but even less well-known, argues Nora Wendl, is the story of what really happened. In this excerpt from her essay "Uncompromising Reasons for Going West: A Story of Sex and Real Estate, Reconsidered," published in Thresholds issue 43: "Scandalous," Wendl examines the overblown and dubious assertions made about Farnsworth's intentions, finding that the truth may be much more simple: perhaps the Farnsworth House is just not a pleasant place to live.
“I have decided to speak up.”
Such is the threshold between a private affair and a public scandal: one person speaks. These are also the opening lines to “The Threat to the Next America,” which appears in the April 1953 issue of House Beautiful. Penned by editor Elizabeth Gordon, the article describes an unnamed, but “highly intelligent, now disillusioned, woman who spent more than $70,000 building a 1-room house that is nothing but a glass cage on stilts.” Gordon warns readers of a design movement sweeping the nation:
Something is rotten in the state of design—and it is spoiling some of our best efforts in modern living. After watching it for several years, after meeting it with silence, House Beautiful has decided to speak out and appeal to your common sense, because it is common sense that is mostly under attack. Two ways of life stretch before us. One leads to the richness of variety, to comfort and beauty. The other, the one we want fully to expose to you, retreats to poverty and unlivability. Worst of all, it contains the threat of cultural dictatorship.
When he passed away in March, Michael Graves left a design legacy stretching back 50 years and encompassing some of the most dramatic changes in architecture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In this interview, conducted in 2012 for her new e-book "Celebrity Designers: 50 Interviews on Design, Architecture, and Life," Maria Spassov quizzes Graves on his career, from the first moment he decided to be an architect to what he believes to be his greatest achievement.
When did you first discover your love of architecture?
As a young boy, the thing I could do best was draw. My mother was very nervous that I would try to become a fine artist. She knew it would be difficult to make a living as an artist. Therefore, she encouraged me to find a career path that incorporated drawing, and she suggested engineering or architecture. I asked her what an engineer did, and after she told me, I decided I would be an architect, because I knew I didn’t want to do engineering. I was probably eight years old.
Discarded planks, doors, floorboards and furniture become colorful geometric faces in Stefaan De Croock’s street murals in Belgium. De Croock (also known as Strook), preserves the color and texture of the scavenged wooden pieces, cutting them into geometric shapes and piecing them together to form colossal faces.
"The whole process of making such a recycled artwork is really interesting; the search for wood, cutting and making the pieces, placing and building it,” Strook said. “I really like working with the old patina of discarded wood. It’s like a footprint of time; every piece has it own story and comes together in a new composition and forms a new story.”
View photos and learn more about two of his recent projects – Elsewhere and Wood & paint – after the break.
Paris has approved its first tower in over 40 years; the city council has agreed to move forward with Herzog & de Meuron's 180-meter-tall "Triangle Tower" - or "Tour Triangle" - after initially rejecting the proposal last year. The controversial plans have been the center of an intense debate since its unveiling in 2008 on whether or not Paris should preserve its 19-century skyline.
As Gizmodo reports, the Swiss architects sold the tower to the city by claiming its glass facade will "disappear" into the skyline.
“Almost everything the architects say has one message: This building is invisible,” as Foreign Policy pointed out last year. “As if to reinforce this strange duality, the renderings omit Paris’s one true existing skyscraper: the wildly unpopular Tour Montparnasse, built in 1973.”
For most of history, mapmaking has been an incredibly specialized pursuit, the domain of either intrepid explorers or highly skilled cartographers, and the resulting maps were some of society's most important repositories of information. In the 21st century, internet-age services such as Google and Wikipedia have made this system largely obsolete - but that doesn't necessarily mean that mapmaking is dead. In this article from Architecture Boston's Summer 2015 issue, originally titled "Redrawing the Map," William Rankin argues that our age of information has instead sparked a new age of cartography; one that is different, but just as important as what came before.
Given the proliferation of GPS devices and interactive mapping online, it’s easy to declare the traditional map obsolete. Intuitive turn-by-turn directions have replaced road atlases, Google has upgraded the static map with everything from real-time traffic to restaurant reviews, and Wikipedia has taken the place of the hefty geography textbook. Is there any hope for a cartophile? Will the stand-alone map, lovingly produced and custom designed, be only a niche product for rich collectors and Luddites?
"In a matter of speaking, Denmark has become an entire country made out of LEGO®," says Bjarke Ingels. Speaking of the importance of prefab in Denmark and how LEGO® inspired his first BIG project - the "LEGO® Towers," which ultimately landed him a commission to design the LEGO® House - Bjarke Ingels discusses his favorite childhood toy and how it has helped him become a better architect.
For over 30 years, the Emerging Voices prize given by the Architectural League of New York has offered the architecture world a glimpse into the future, showcasing radical ideas from architects at a crucial stage in their career development. In this excerpt, the opening to her essay "Idea: Claiming Territories" in the newly-released book "Thirty Years of Emerging Voices: Idea, Form, Resonance," Ashley Schafer discusses how the prize has acted as a litmus test for architectural culture, with laureates often presaging trends and sometimes even singular projects years or decades before they occurred in the profession at large.
For the last few years, in the Andean foothills just outside Santiago, Chile, a mysterious orb-like structure has been slowly rising under construction cranes. The new Bahá’i Temple of South America will be the first of its kind on the continent when it opens in 2016. It has been a historic journey for the Bahá’i faith in this part of the world—Bahá’i first arrived in Chile in 1919—and a patient journey for the architects, engineers, and builders who have brought the temple to life through a decade-long process of innovation.
Could Hovering Buildings be the Future of Sustainability?
If Arx Pax, a cutting-edge technology firm led by Greg and Jill Henderson, has its way, levitating objects could become a common sight. The team is developing what they call Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA), a technology which controls electromagnetic energy to make objects hover, and at the several months ago, they used it to produce Hendo Hover, a hoverboard capable of carrying a person. While the fact that Arx Pax was able to produce a hoverboard is fascinating, the technology could have much more serious applications: as an architect, Greg Henderson envisions that one day MFA technology could be used in buildings to produce sustainable structures which can better survive earthquakes and other natural disasters. Is this goal realistic?
With the ability to manipulate every interaction players have in a game, video game designers have boundless opportunity to shape the way players experience space. Because of this, game designers often look to architecture to enhance gameplay and provide inspiration for the appearances of their virtual worlds.
In the video above, Jamin Warren of YouTube show PBS Game/Show calls Halo the “most creative architectural game,” remarking that the brutalist-inspired architecture of the series exerted a strong influence on the way players move through levels and makes the battles in the game more immersive. Warren notes that several members of Halo’s development team had backgrounds in architecture; this observation suggests that the video gaming industry views architectural design as an essential element in its creative endeavors.
Warren makes an interesting point with his remarks on Halo: while people that inhabit virtual buildings cannot experience them physically, video game buildings can still be incredibly innovative and interesting. Which other video games feature innovative architectural approaches? Check out our list of six of the most architectural video games after the break.
In 2007, when the late Mayor Thomas Menino announced his intentions to demolish Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles' iconic Boston City Hall, he gave voice to a tragic but all-too-common popular discomfort with midcentury concrete architecture. Concerned that this threat was only the latest symptom of a pervasive misunderstanding of the significance of the concrete tradition, three architects - Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo - joined forces shortly thereafter to launch "The Heroic Project" and share their appreciation for this unfairly maligned chapter of architectural history. In addition to creating an internet web archive, Pasnik, Grimley, and Kubo jointly authored a forthcoming historical survey, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, scheduled to be released by The Monacelli Press in October 2015, which recasts the cultural and political story behind America's concrete heritage.
The Getty Foundation has selected 14 modernist buildings from across the globe to receive grants under its Keeping It Modern initiative, which seeks to help conserve 20th century architecture by putting a focus on conservation planning and research.
“The use of concrete, while visually striking and radical for its time, has created a unique set of challenges for conserving some of the world’s most important modernist structures. Our new grants offer an excellent opportunity to advance research and conservation practices for this material. The accumulated knowledge that will result from the projects will be of tremendous benefit to the field," states the Getty Foundation.
Architecture Sans Frontières has announced the winners of their inaugural ASF International Awards, which aim to recognize “efficient solutions developed by architects globally to the many social, environmental and economic challenges facing the built environment.”
We're just three days into the four-month display of SelgasCano's 2015 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion and the comments it has generated from ArchDaily readers have already been as colorful as the pavilion itself - with criticisms ranging from "worst Serpentine Gallery Pavilion ever" to "trash bag monster" and a few other comparisons that I'd rather not even repeat. This may surprise some people, but at ArchDaily we do actually read the comments section, and we get it: unless you're the brave and persistent soul who comments as "notyourproblem," who thinks "it must be exciting getting inside those tunnels," there's a good chance that you hate this pavilion - and I don't use the word "hate" lightly.
But is this violent dismissal warranted? In short, is SelgasCano's pavilion as bad as you probably think it is? Fortunately, we're not the only publication giving the pavilion extensive coverage: as usual the Serpentine Gallery has attracted a number of the UK's most well-known critics. Find out what they thought of the pavilion after the break.