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The 'Manhattan of the Desert': Shibam, Yemen's Ancient Skyscraper City

Walking through narrow chaotic alleys dwarfed by soaring towers, few would estimate the age of Yemen's city of Shibam at nearly 1,700 years. Located in Yemen's central Hadhramaut district, Shibam has roots in the pre-Islamic period, and evidence of construction dating from the 9th century.

Shibam is known as the first city on earth with a vertical masterplan. A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, the city is home to densely packed buildings ranging from four to eight storeys, beginning in 300 AD but now mostly built after 1532. Thanks to a fortified ring wall, the city has survived nearly two thousand years despite its precarious position adjacent to the wadi floodplain. 

Enter the ancient walled world of Shibam after the break

© Wikimedia CC user Aiman titi Shibam rooftops. Image © Flickr CC user maartenF © Wikimedia CC user Jialiang Gao Haroon Alrashid Mosque in Shibam. Image © Flickr CC user Najeeb Musallam

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Rafael Viñoly's “Walkie Talkie” Tower in London Leveled with Even More Complaints

Following the controversy over its curved façade, which focused the sun’s rays into dangerous beams, Rafael Viñoly Architects20 Fenchurch Street (dubbed the Walkie Talkie) has now been hit with more accusations -- this time of increasing the wind in the area, and of breaking agreements on its public sky garden, local press have reported

Video: Steven Holl Discusses Beijing's Linked Hybrid, 7 Years After Completion

A community of 750 units interconnected on, below and above ground, Steven Holl Architects "Linked Hybrid" was an intentional shift away from the monolithic, monofuctional skyscraper. The entire complex was designed to be a "three-dimensional urban space" that encouraged chance encounters beyond the ground floor. 

In this video architect Steven Holl talks about the building's design and how it has performed, seven years after the building's completion. 

Rem Koolhaas on Prada, Preservation, Art and Architecture

With the opening of the Fondazione Prada art galleries in May, OMA showed a different side to their practice, one focusing on preservation and assemblage rather than the iconography and diagrammatic layout that many associate with the firm. In this interview, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Koolhaas Talks Prada," Rem Koolhaas explains the reasoning behind this new approach, and how they attempted to avoid falling into the clichés of post-industrial art spaces.

When the Fondazione Prada opened its doors to a new permanent home in Milan dedicated to contemporary culture, it not only placed the Italian city firmly at the forefront of today’s global art world, but also introduced an ambitious new way of thinking about the relationship between architecture and art. The location—an original 1910 distillery in a distinctly gritty part of the city—comprised seven spaces including warehouses and three enormous brewing cisterns with a raw industrial quality that the architects, Dutch firm OMA, retained while adding three new buildings made of glass, white concrete, and aluminum foam. One, the centrally located Podium, is intended for temporary shows, while another—still under construction—is a nine-story tower that will house the foundation’s archives, art installations, and a restaurant. The third, a theater with a mirrored facade, features folding walls that allow the building to open onto a courtyard. In total, the collection of buildings provides nearly 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than twice that of the new Whitney Museum of American Art. Metropolis correspondent Catherine Shaw visited the site with Pritzker Prize–winning architect Rem Koolhaas to find out more about the challenges of creating a new cultural paradigm.

OMA’s approach to the exhibition pavilions is eclectic, though undeniably modern. (Note the Miesian detail of the vertical beam affixed to the building envelope). Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione’s inaugural exhibition, the Serial Classic, explores questions of authenticity and imitation in classical antiquity. The lifesize sculptures are mounted on an intricate flooring system designed for the exhibition and composed of travertine, brushed aluminum, and perspex—all exposed along the edges. Image © Attilio Maranzano The gilded exhibition hall is the central focal point of the Fondazione. Called the Haunted House, the structure’s blank utilitarian features are draped in gold leaf, an ostensibly spontaneous extravagance that Koolhaas post-rationalizes on functionalist grounds. The building towers above the rest of the campus’s open-air spaces and warehouses, which all can be taken in from the Haunted House’s balconies. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione encompasses a veritable townscape consisting of warehouse hangars interwoven with the new buildings. The former are subtly spruced up, indicated by the linear orange markings repeated on their exterior. Elevation changes in the ground variegate the pedestrian’s experience of the compound while demarcating the Fondazione’s important nodes, such as the cinema clad in a mirrored veneer. Touches likes this lend the complex a haunting, almost surrealist dimension. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada

Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple Undergoes Massive Restoration

Frank Lloyd Wrights's Unity Temple is undergoing a much needed $23 million restoration. As the Chicago Tribune reports, the Oak Park temple's integrity was first called into question when a large piece of the ceiling fell above the pulpit in 2008 (thankfully no one was hurt).

The comprehensive overhaul is going beyond restoring the building's to its original beauty; a geothermal heating system and air conditioning will be integrated into the building and site for the first time, allowing the uninterrupted services year-round.

The refurbished temple will reopen in late 2016. 

Selgascano's Serpentine and the ArchDaily Comments Section

Photographer Nikhilesh Haval of nikreations has shared with us this virtual tour of the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion. Taking viewers through a series of 360-degree panoramas shot on a mercifully sunny day, the tour shows off the pavilion's striking colors to good effect and gives some indication of the complex and dynamic arrangement of the design's double skin.

For those won't get the opportunity to visit for themselves, Haval's virtual tour is a great way to experience SelgasCano's psychedelic space as it gives a reasonable impression of what it feels like to actually be there. I can say that with some authority because, since I last wrote about the pavilion, I got the chance to visit it myself - and what I found was completely different to the pavilion I might have expected had I been taking cues from our comments section. I'd like to talk to our readers about that directly, if I may.

Why Landscape Designers Will Be Key to the Future of Our Cities

For most people, spending time outdoors in well-designed public spaces is one of the highlights to city life. Why, then, do we spend comparatively little time and money on designing them? In this article, originally posted on Metropolis magazine as "Designing Outdoor Public Spaces is Vital to the Future of our Cities" Kirt Martin, the vice-president of design and marketing at outdoor furniture designer Landscape Forms, makes the case that landscape architects and industrial designers working in the public realm are key for our cities' health and happiness.

All of us treasure our time in outdoor spaces. So why do we devote so little of our attention to their design?

As a designer in the site-furniture industry, I am always curious about the value people place on the outdoors. I like to ask people I meet to describe a great city like New York, Chicago, or Paris and what they most remember about being there. Or I ask them, if they won $25,000 to spend on a dream vacation, where they would go and what they would do. Their fond memories of a celebrated city or an escape into the wild often have little in common, except for one thing: Their most memorable and meaningful experiences almost always revolve around the outdoors.

Call for ArchDaily Interns: Fall 2015

 is looking for motivated architecture geeks to join our team of interns for Fall 2015 (September - December)! An ArchDaily internship is a great opportunity to learn about our site and get exposed to some of the latest and most interesting ideas shaping architecture today.  Read on to find out what it takes to work for the world’s most visited architecture website!

Zaha Hadid Architects Releases Full Statement on Scrapped Tokyo Stadium Plans

Following the news earlier this month that their design for Tokyo's 2022 Olympics stadium would be scrappedZaha Hadid Architects have released a comprehensive statement about the project's cancellation. Despite the many critics of the project's design - including Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki - it was ultimately the project's increasing costs that sparked its demise. However, the 1400-word statement from ZHA attempts to put distance between the firm and the claim by the Japan Sport Council (JSC) that much of the increase in costs was due to a complex design, instead arguing that "At every stage over the two years of development, the design and budget estimates were approved by the JSC" and adding a number of times that "ZHA worked proactively to reduce the estimated cost throughout."

Read on after the break to find out where ZHA pins the blame for the cost increases and to read the statement in full.

Ingrid Böck's "Six Canonical Projects by Rem Koolhaas" Dissects the Ideas that have Made Koolhaas' Career

Seattle Central Library. Image © Ramon Prat
Seattle Central Library. Image © Ramon Prat

First published in May, Six Canonical Projects by Rem Koolhaas by Ingrid Böck reveals the logic behind Koolhaas’ projects and the ideas and themes running through his career. Incredibly thorough in her analysis, Böck aims to correct what she views as an absence of complete studies on an architect who has had an enormous influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Böck presents these six projects, which include Koolhaas’ thesis project “Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture,” Ville Nouvelle Melun-Sénart, Maison Bordeaux, the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, the Seattle Central Library, and the CCTV Headquarters, because they most directly explore six concepts prominent throughout Koolhaas’ work: Wall, Void, Montage, Trajectory, Infrastructure, and Shape.

The Top 5 Questions to Prepare for in an Architecture Job Interview

It's that time of year when many graduates across the Northern Hemisphere are searching for jobs or internships - the time of year when many realize that there's a lot more to landing a solid position at a good firm than simply being a great designer. One of the largest hurdles they will encounter is the job interview, and while there is plenty of advice out there about job interviews in general, little of it is aimed directly at architects. In this post originally published on The Architect's Guide, Brandon Hubbard tackles the top five most common questions in an architecture job interview - and how to ace the answers.

The architecture profession has been steadily recovering since the downturn of 2009. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has released “NCARB by the Numbers,” their annual report featuring a positive trend for the architecture profession. This means more jobs for architects - assuming you can get through the interview of course...

These Schools for Refugee Children in Jordan are Built Using Scaffolding and Sand

Using the ground “beneath your feet,” the Pilosio Building Peace organization, along with architects Pouya Khazaeli and Cameron Sinclair, have developed RE:BUILD, an incredible constructive system for building safe and comfortable structures in refugee camps. The system allows for the construction of temporary buildings of high quality through the use of wall panels formed with scaffolding and grids, which are then assembled and filled with gravel, sand or earth, creating well insulated interiors at a low cost. 

Although the structures can be used for hospitals, housing, and other functions on this occasion we present two schools constructed using this system in Jordan.

Za'atari Refugee Camp, Jordan. Image Courtesy of Pilosio Building Peace Za'atari Refugee Camp, Jordan. Image Courtesy of Pilosio Building Peace Queen Rania Park, Amman, Jordan. Image Courtesy of Pilosio Building Peace Queen Rania Park, Amman, Jordan. Image Courtesy of Pilosio Building Peace

How to Become a LEGO® Architect

Admit it: you have a secret LEGO® stash somewhere. Before you had even considered becoming an architect, you had already built cities, developed housing, and mastered the art of using every last brick, no matter the size. You may think you've outgrown your favorite toy, but we have the perfect book to turn your childhood LEGO® collection into a legitimate (and seriously fun) adult pastime. The LEGO® Architect by Tom Alphin brings the best of playtime to the forefront of design through a visual story of the history of building, infused by models made entirely of LEGO®. 

Find out to build your own neoclassical dome, or Frank Lloyd Wright's trademark Prairie House, or even the iconic Lever House by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill using the simplest of LEGO® components! Enter the world of The LEGO® Architect, where little white bricks can do anything with a little ingenuity and some architectural know-how. 

AR Issues: Architects Used to Design Homes for People, Not Investment

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the July 2015 issue, AR editor Christine Murray takes on "the most pressing issue of our time," the global housing crisis, asking "why don’t we shelter the homeless in empty housing? This crisis seems nonsensical when the postwar housing crisis was solved so efficiently."

The architect-designed home is a desirable commodity, that Modernist minimalist bungalow, all steel and glass with a large sofa, the Case Study House complete with swimming pool, MacBook Air and stunning view. 

But there was once a different kind of architect-designed home, for people in need of shelter, not investments – and it’s sorely required now. Housing is the most pressing issue of our time, with one in every 122 people in the world either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum – a record high, according to a UN report. Yet cash-strapped states do nothing, build nothing. They stand eyes averted, hands in their pockets.

A Virtual Look Into Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House

Farnsworth House, the temple of domestic modernism designed by Mies van der Rohe as a weekend retreat for a Chicago doctor, is one of the most paradoxical houses of the 20th century. A perfectionist mirage, it floats like a pavilion in a park, but its history has been beset by plagues, floods and feuds. As the second installment of a series of three modernist classics presented by Archilogic, we’ve modeled the Farnsworth house so that you can see if—in spite of its austere reputation—it can be lived in after all. In this model you can explore the spatial arrangement of the house, and refurnish it with Eames chairs, deck it out with your IKEA favorites, or booby-trap it with children’s toys.

Bolivia's Ignored Satellite City is Building Itself a Whole New Identity

La Paz, the historic de-facto capital of Bolivia, is widely renowned for its incredible setting, colonial architecture, and cultural buildings. El Alto, on the other hand, is not. It was, in fact, La Paz's rather dismal satellite city, all low rise brick and commuting. Yet El Alto has become the centre of an entirely new, independently evolved architectural style that is rapidly catching on across South America.

19 Notable Figures Who Left Architecture to Follow Other Career Paths

What do Ice Cube, the members of Pink Floyd, and Seal have in common with fashion icon Tom Ford and former president Thomas Jefferson? They all studied architecture. Perhaps a representation of the diversity of talents in architecture studios, household names like Samuel L. Jackson and Courteney Cox found their footing as students of architecture prior to reaching success in other fields. 

We've put together a list of some of the most unexpected names gracing the yearbooks of architecture schools from around the world, including the likes of Queen Noor of Jordan and George Takei of Star Trek fame. Discover "Weird Al" Yankovic's true (architectural) passions after the break.

Queen Noor of Jordan. Image via Flickr Creative Commons user Skoll World Forum Monticello by Thomas Jefferson. Image via Flickr Creative Commons user Eric Langhorst Ice Cube. Image via Flickr Creative Commons user Eva Rinaldi George Takei. Image via Flickr Creative Commons user TEDxKyoto