Interview with Enrique Norten: "Architecture is Not a Competition of Strange Objects"

10:30 - 5 January, 2016
Rutgers Business School, Piscataway, New Jersey. Image © Peter Aaron
Rutgers Business School, Piscataway, New Jersey. Image © Peter Aaron

Founded in 1986 in Mexico City, Enrique Norten's practice TEN Arquitectos is not known for a signature style, preferring to make each project a modernist-infused response to its own specific conditions. Nonetheless, they have become one of the most widely-recognized architectural practices emerging from Mexico, with projects throughout North America. In the latest interview in his "City of Ideas" column, Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks with Norten in New York to find out how the architect's past has influenced his current design work, and to discuss the future trajectory of architecture.

Vladimir Belogolovsky: How busy are you now, what kind of projects are you working on?

Enrique Norten: Fortunately, we are very busy. Half of our work is for such clients as cultural institutions, education, and government. The other half is for private clients – developers and homeowners. TEN Arquitectos maintains around 75 to 85 architects between our two offices in Mexico City and here in New York, from where we are working on projects in many major cities in the US and now in Toronto, and in the Caribbean. Two thirds of the work is handled by our Mexico City office, from which we work on projects all over Mexico and in Central America.

The new Acapulco City Hall. Image Courtesy of TEN Arquitectos CENTRO University, Mexico City. Image © Luis Gordoa Mercedes House, New York City. Image © Evan Joseph Habita Hotel, Mexico City. Image © Luis Gordoa +23

AD Classics: Villa Malaparte / Adalberto Libera

06:00 - 4 January, 2016
© Flickr User: Sean Munson
© Flickr User: Sean Munson

Villa Malaparte, built in 1938 by the Rationalist architect Adalberto Libera in Punta Massullo on the Isle of Capri, is considered to be one of the best examples of Modern Italian architecture. The house, a red structure with inverted pyramid stairs, sits 32 meters over a cliff on the Gulf of Salerno. It is completely isolated from civilization, only accessible by foot or by boat.

The house was commissioned by the Italian writer, Curzio Malaparte whose eccentric character eventually led him to dominate the design process, causing serious conflict with Libera. Malaparte wanted the house to reflect his own personal character and become a place for solitary contemplation and writing. He once said: "Now I live on an island, in an austere and melancholy house, which I built myself on a lonely cliff above the sea. [It is] the image of my desire."

© Gloria Saravia Ortiz. PhD Arquitecta UPC Barcelona España.  Académica Escuela de Arquitectura Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. © Gloria Saravia Ortiz. PhD Arquitecta UPC Barcelona España.  Académica Escuela de Arquitectura Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. © Karl Lagerfeld © Flickr User: John Athayde +15

Yasser Elsheshtawy Reveals Theme for UAE Pavilion at 2016 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 4 January, 2016
Entrance to a National (Sha’abi) House in the Salamat neighborhood in Al Ain. Photography by Yasser Elsheshtawy. Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE la Biennale di Venezia
Entrance to a National (Sha’abi) House in the Salamat neighborhood in Al Ain. Photography by Yasser Elsheshtawy. Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE la Biennale di Venezia

As announced in October 2015, UAEU professor Yasser Elsheshtawy has been selected to curate the United Arab Emirates pavilion for the 2016 Venice Biennale. Following the Biennale’s theme of Reporting from the Front, Elsheshtawy—who runs the blog Dubaization, a term he coined in 2004 to depict the influence of Dubai on the urban discourse—has chosen to highlight the country’s social housing program, known as Sha’abi housing, which began in the 1970s and continues on to today.

ArchDaily was given the opportunity to speak to Elsheshtawy about the history of the United Arab Emirates’ Sha’abi housing, and what role it might play in informing the urban future of a country that has become renowned for a very different type of architecture. Continue reading for our exclusive interview with Elsheshtawy on this year’s UAE pavilion.

AD Readers Debate: Ancient Greek Revival in Rhodes, Gothic Revival in New York, and More

09:30 - 3 January, 2016

We may be emerging from the holiday season, but the weeks of quiet merriment haven’t slowed down our readers. Over the last few weeks, a small number of stories have kept the comments flowing in - among them a gothic-inspired skyscraper, a museum that is a little too baroque for some tastes, and a statue that most agreed was simply poor taste. Read on to find out what our readers had to say about some of the most noteworthy stories of recent weeks in the latest of our "ArchDaily Readers Debate" series.

The 2015 Religious Architecture Awards Celebrate Changing Trends in Worship

09:30 - 2 January, 2016

Religious buildings make up many of the highlights of architectural history, and the Religious Architecture Awards from Faith & Form magazine and the Interfaith Forum for Religion, Art, and Architecture celebrate the latest entries in this category. As trends in religious practices and the buildings that house them have changed, this year’s awards celebrate a wide variety of structures, including a growing number of renovation and restoration projects, as well as the first-ever award for a building in the “megachurch” category. From a total of 44 entries, 16 projects received awards in one of five categories: New Facilities, Renovation, Restoration, Adaptive Reuse/Repurpose, and Liturgical/Interior Design.

Read on to see all the winners of the Religious Architecture Awards.

Mission San Juan Capistrano/Ford, Powell & Carson Architects & Planners, Inc.. Image © Mark Menjivar The Memorial Church, Harvard University/Finegold Alexander Architects. Image © Blind Dog Immanuel Chapel/Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Image © Peter Aaron/OTTO St. Monica Catholic Church/Fisher Heck Architects. Image © DVDesign +41

ArchDaily: What Happened in 2015, and Where We Are Heading in 2016

07:00 - 1 January, 2016

Dear readers,

This has been an intense year at ArchDaily, and I’d like to look back and share what we’ve done during 2015, and give you a glimpse of what will come during 2016.

Our focus on the emerging countries is something intimately tied to our mission. I’m very happy to see that as a society we understand the importance of cities for the future of mankind, and that we are actively improving them through the traditional way of making architecture, but also more and more in an expanded field and in a multidisciplinary collaborative way.

We started this project in 2008 in a very instinctive way, but always understanding that we should provide value to architects. Today, we are publishing in 4 languages (including the new ArchDaily China!), reaching more than 400,000 daily readers who are viewing 120 million pages every month - and bookmarking thousand of projects on My ArchDaily. This scale has made us understand what is adding value - and what is not - to architects in a very insightful, data-driven way. Our analysis for our end of the year posts has shown us how important it is for you to have access to technology and resources than can help you on your work.

MVRDV Reimagines the Chinese Hutong

12:00 - 31 December, 2015

MVRDV has taken it upon themselves to reimagine the Chinese Hutong. Focusing in on Beijing's prominent and currently vacant Xianyukou Hutong, the practice has set out to define its future and envision "the next hutong" - one that is "monumental, dense, green, mixed and individual" and can be built in phases. 

Drones and Rendering: How Aerial Photogrammetry Adds Existing Topography into Visualizations

09:30 - 31 December, 2015

Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer by Pix4D on Sketchfab

As I have touched on in the past many times, context is what transforms an artistic rendering into a photorealistic visual that accurately portrays a building. Seemingly minute details such as the warmth of interior lighting in night renders can actually make a dramatic impact on how the image is received by a potential client or investor. With this in mind, and in a continual attempt to improve the accuracy of renderings while increasing the value they provide to architects, some rendering artists are now taking advantage of readily available Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms – more commonly referred to as drones – to gain a unique vantage point of land slated for development.

In the past capturing aerial photographs of an area could only be achieved from planes or helicopters, both of which come at a hefty price tag, even to rent. Drones equipped with the same capabilities can now be purchased for a fraction of the cost, making aerial photography more attainable. Aside from capturing standard video or images, drones have given rendering artists access to software that allows them to accurately map the topography of an area slated for development, adding a new level of context and accuracy to the rendering.

To Think In Actual Space, With Actual Materials: An Interview with Siiri Vallner of Kavakava Architects

09:30 - 30 December, 2015
Narva College (2012). Image © Kaido Haagen
Narva College (2012). Image © Kaido Haagen

Estonian contemporary architecture is diverse in nature. Here, one can find the spark and freshness of Danish- and Dutch-influenced architecture as well as the tradition-carrying conservatism of Nordic Modernism. A third trend that can be highlighted in contemporary Estonian architecture is a context-sensitive approach to built environment, in which particular emphasis is placed upon the historical, social, as well as spatial contexts. Siiri Vallner’s works may be classified into the latter of these three groups. The buildings she has designed do not number many, but by way of their spatial ideas and solutions they have strongly influenced and enriched Estonia’s architectural culture.

Siiri Vallner is currently sharing her office Kavakava with Indrek Peil, another relatively young Estonian architect. Vallner has received several awards over the last few years. In 2013, together with Indrek Peil, Katrin Koov, and interior architect Hannes Praks, she was awarded the National Culture Award for their architectural solution for the University of Tartu’s Narva College in Narva, Estonia. She was likewise one of three female architects to be given special international recognition at the “arcVision Prize – Women in Architecture” competition in Italy (2013). I spoke with Vallner about both her work and her projects.

Kindergarten Lotte (2008). Image © Aivo Kallas The Pier (2011). Image © Margit Argus Tartu Health Care College (2011). Image © Jaan Sokk Villa Lokaator (2007). Image © Paul Riddle +7

Arch From the Syrian Temple of Bel to be Replicated in London and New York City

04:00 - 30 December, 2015
Rendering of the arch's position in Trafalgar Square, London. Image © IDA
Rendering of the arch's position in Trafalgar Square, London. Image © IDA

The Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a joint-venture between Harvard University (US), the University of Oxford (UK) and Dubai’s Museum of the Future (UAE) have announced that they will replicate a structure of architectural significance that was destroyed earlier this year by IS, or 'Islamic State', at full scale in the centre of London and New York City. The arch—all that remains of the Temple of Bel at the Syrian UNESCO World Heritage site—was captured by militants in May and destroyed. By no means an isolated case, IS have looted and demolished a number of similar architectural and anthropologically important sites that "pre-date Islam in Iraq," condemning them as "symbols of idolatry."

How RAAAF's Experiments in Spatial Dynamics Offer Challenges to the Near Future

09:30 - 29 December, 2015
© Jordi Huisman
© Jordi Huisman

Whether it's a bisected war bunker, an office space that forbids sitting down or a hulking yet ultimately purposeless machine of war, the chances are that if you've seen a project by RAAAF, it provoked some questions. But while their work may appear merely idiosyncratic, it is informed by a deep understanding and questioning of culture. Originally produced and published by Freunde von Freunden as "Experiments In Spatial Dynamics: RAAAF," Leonie Haenchen delves into the architecture and philosophy that drives the unconventional Dutch practice.

It’s pouring without mercy, but at Soesterberg Airbase this is highly appreciated. “We like this weather,” says Ronald Rietveld, co-founder of RAAAF, as he greets us at the entrance of what appears to be an enormous post-apocalyptic amusement park. “The rain suits this atmosphere much better.”

RAAAF stands for Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances, which doesn’t really prepare one for what’s revealed behind the doors of Shelter 610. A monstrous arthropod made out of steel with two spindly legs stares vacuously out of its white glassy eyes. Every attempt to name this mechanical being fails, it merely appears as a collision of past and future—science fiction in flesh and blood. “Everything we do should be an in-the-moment experience, something that people can feel physically. If this object was only presented on paper, it would simply not be as strong,” says Ronald and grins mischievously. “I am sure you will still remember this moment in five years.”

Bunker 599 (2010). Image Courtesy of RAAAF The End of Sitting (2014). Image © Jan Kempenaers Secret Operation 610 (2013). Image © Jordi Huisman RAAAF's exhibition at the 2010 Venice Biennale, "Vacant NL". Image © Rob 't Hart +8

Concrete and Glass: Lina Bo Bardi's Easels and a New, Old Way of Displaying Art

06:00 - 29 December, 2015
© Romullo Baratto
© Romullo Baratto

Forty-seven years after their first appearance, Lina Bo Bardi's iconic glass easels have returned to the gallery at São Paulo's Museum of Art (MASP), displaying some of the museum's most valuable paintings, spanning from the medieval to the modern, in an exhibition on the second floor of the museum.

Removed from display in 1996, the concrete pillars, wood and glass easels were reviewed by METRO Arquitetos, who became part of MASP's curatorial team -- in charge of exhibition design -- last December.  Having carried out various exhibitions this year at the museum - such as Brazilian Art Through the 1900s METRO Arquitetos decided to end the year by bringing back the easels, in an exhibition similar to the original one conceived by Lina, which almost five decades later, continues to impress with its innovative way of exhibiting art in museums. 

We had the opportunity to visit the exhibition montage and speak with architect Martin Corullon about the return of the easels and the process of recovering the space as conceived by Lina for the museum. Read the complete interview below.

© Romullo Baratto © Romullo Baratto © Romullo Baratto © Romullo Baratto +24

The 20 Most Popular Projects of 2015

09:30 - 28 December, 2015

If there's one word that sums up our most popular projects of 2015, it's "diversity." The list features architects ranging from old favorites such as SANAA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and OMA down to newer names like Sculp[IT] and Tropical Space; it also includes everything from museums to multi-family housing and spa retreats to chapels - along with the usual smattering of private residences. Interestingly, this year's list also shows the symbiosis between great architecture and great photography, with no less than 4 projects also appearing in our most bookmarked images from this year's World Photo Day. But despite their diversity, there's one thing all of these 20 projects have in common: great architecture. So settle in, relax and read on - here's our 20 most popular projects of 2015.

A Six Minute Snapshot of Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens

04:00 - 28 December, 2015

British filmmaker Joe Gilbert has created a short tribute film to Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, East London, which—as of August 2015—is set to be demolished. Accompanied by insightful commentary from Timothy Brittain-Catlin, the film charts the buildings' history and recent threats to a backdrop of monochrome shots of the estate, in all of its dilapidated and "pleasantly wild" current state. The 'Streets in the Sky', made famous by the Smithsons and both widely praised and criticised as a response to the collapse of low-density terrace housing, are one of the focuses of the film.

Critical Round-Up: The Most Important Buildings and Events of 2015

09:30 - 27 December, 2015

The past 12 months have given us plenty to talk about: 2015 saw the opening of several marquee new museums, and the field took an introspective turn with the “State of the Art of Architecture” at the Chicago Biennial. Now it’s December, and that means it’s time for many critics to look back at the triumphs and failures of the year past and make predictions for the year to come.

To add to our own list of the most inspiring leaders, projects and people from 2015, we found what some of our favorite critics had to say, including Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian, Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange for Curbed, the Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Hawthorne, and Julie V Iovine for The Wall Street Journal. Continue reading for a selection of just some of the buildings and topics which the critics highlighted as having the greatest impact on the architecture world this year.

150 Weird Words Defined: Your Guide to the Language of Architecture

09:30 - 26 December, 2015
© Smokedsalmon via Shutterstock
© Smokedsalmon via Shutterstock

Back in September, we asked our readers to help us make the definitive list of weird words used by architects, and we got an astonishing response. The resulting article, 150 Weird Words that Only Architects Use was one of our most popular of the year, ranking highly in our most read articles of 2015 and our editors' picks of the best articles of the year. But while it was well received, a number of people commented that something was missing in our list: definitions of all the words, to both aid readers' comprehension of the list and to debate over how different people had interpreted the same word. With that in mind - and considering that it is the time of year for generosity - we've revisited our list to bring you fun definitions for all 150.

If you're looking for an architectural reference dictionary, we assure you that this isn't it. But we hope you'll have fun all the same.

Video: Santa Meets Bauhaus

14:00 - 25 December, 2015

From the Oscar-winning production and animation studio Mikrofilm AS, this short film illustrates the unconventional ways families of modernist architects celebrate Christmas. We all know that the way we stack presents must be intentional; and what better building to model your gingerbread house after than Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum?

CODA’s "Cabinette" Reflects the Tension in WB Yeats’ Poem “Lake Isle of Innisfree”

09:30 - 24 December, 2015
Courtesy of CODA
Courtesy of CODA

In his 1892 poem Lake Isle of InnisfreeWB Yeats fantasizes about a life lived in solitude on an island in Lough Gill in Ireland, where the poet spent his summers as a child. Earlier this year, as a celebration of the poet’s 150th birthday, an architectural competition was held by the organization Yeats2015 to realize a temporary version of the “small cabin” from the poem.

In their response to the competition brief, New York-based practice CODA’s “Cabinette” feeds off of the contradictions in the competition’s premise, creating a structure that would realize Yeats’ cabin, yet simultaneously maintain its status as a fantasy contingent upon the conditions of everyday reality.