For architects, if I may generalize an entire professional community, there are few novelists as cultishly beloved as J.G. Ballard. Borges or Calvino have their fair share of admirers, but to borrow an adjective more frequently applied to buildings, Ballard is the most iconic of literary figures—especially for readers of a concrete-expansion-joint persuasion. Witnessing war as a child, training in medicine, and thereafter writing from a rather bloodless middle-class patch of suburbia, Ballard spun tales of urban life that continue to be uncomfortably visceral.
Beginning this week, and lasting for only sixteen days, visitors to the Italian Lake Iseo can "walk on water." The Floating Piers is the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, based on an idea first conceived in 1970. Built using 100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular floating dock system of 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes, the installation—which sits just above water level—undulates with the movement of the lake.
According to Italian news source, Leggo, two people were "seriously injured" and the installation was "evacuated" on its opening day due to the quantity of visitors and inclement weather conditions.
Those who experience The Floating Piers will feel like they are walking on water – or perhaps the back of a whale.
When I used to teach graduate students in furniture design, I would assign them an abstract problem that required them to sit in the studio and draw through free association over a long period of time without getting up from their seats. After about 45 minutes, most students would start to squirm and get uncomfortable. If they hadn’t been in my class they would likely have stood up, checked their e-mail, gone online, or found other distractions. But I encouraged them to push through the discomfort because, after many years of running the same exercise, I had learned that right after the “squiggly” stage, something incredible happens. Often, a whole new direction for their work would emerge—something completely unfamiliar and unexpected.
What was it about those uncomfortable moments that unleashed their creativity? Was it something magical or mysterious? Hardly. I believe it was boredom, pure and simple—something all of us (and artists and designers in particular) need more of in our lives.
In his latest video, Jesús Granada visits ‘The Pool,’ inside Australia’s Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Curated by Amelia Holliday, Isabelle Toland & Michelle Tabet of Aileen Sage Architects, the exhibition explores the architectural typology of the swimming pool and its place in Australian culture.
To many, it might seem that the goals of Alejandro Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale—as he describes it, "to understand what design tools are needed to subvert the forces that privilege the individual gain over the collective benefit"—are beyond reproach. In spite of these aims, a number of commentators nevertheless have emerged, perhaps led most vocally by Patrik Schumacher, criticizing the biennale. In this article, originally published on The Architecture Foundation's website as "Holier than thou," Phineas Harper responds to those criticisms.
The most surprising turn of the 2016 Venice Biennale was not the exhibition itself, but the reaction of its critics. Within hours of kick-off, the internet was filling up with derogatory mutterings of the show being '"worthy," "moralizing," "holier than thou," "earnest," "virtue-signaling" and "right on" (which apparently is an insult). The architectural Twitterati, it seemed, were unimpressed.
But what exactly were they hating on? The biennale principally exhibited practices which saw some form of suffering in the world and, through their work, in way or another, were trying to lessen it. How did such a compassionate brief generate such a miserly push-back?
A year ago today, on June 16th 2015, the architectural community lost Charles Correa (b.1930) – a man often referred to as “India’s Greatest Architect” and a person whose impact on the built environment extended far beyond his own native country. Rooted in India, Correa’s work blended Modernity and traditional vernacular styles to form architecture with a universal appeal. Over the course of his career, this work earned him—among many others—awards including the 1984 RIBA Royal Gold Medal (UK), the 1994 Praemium Imperiale (Japan), and the 2006 Padma Vibhushan (India’s second highest civilian honor).
Through his buildings we, as both architects and people who experience space, have learnt about the lyrical qualities of light and shade, the beauty that can be found in humble materials, the power of color, and the joy of woven narratives in space. Perhaps more than anything else, however, it was his belief in the notion that architecture can shape society which ensures the continued relevance of his work. “At it’s most vital, architecture is an agent of change,” Correa once wrote. “To invent tomorrow – that is its finest function.”
Herzog & de Meuron's ten-storey extension to London's Tate Modern, which officially opens to the public this week, is the latest in a series of ambitious building projects pursued by the internally renowned gallery of contemporary art. Sitting above The Tanks, the world's first dedicated galleries for live art and film installations, the building's pyramidical form provides 60% more exhibition space for the institution. Two days before its doors welcome art-lovers from around the world, photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has captured a collection of unique views on this highly anticipated addition to London's skyline.
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 June 2016 issue on what the AR has provocatively named "Notopia," Editor Christine Murray outlines the defining characteristics of this "selfish city," the "pandemic of generic buildings have no connection to each other" - stating that their issue-long tirade against Notopia "is less a warning than a prophecy of doom."
If what is called the development of our cities is allowed to multiply at the present rate, then by the end of the century our world will consist of isolated oases of glassy monuments surrounded by a limbo of shacks and beige constructions, and we will be unable to distinguish any one global city from another.
This pandemic of generic buildings have no connection to each other, let alone to the climate and culture of their location.
With apologies to our forebear Ian Nairn, upon this scourge The Architectural Review bestows a name in the hope that it will stick – NOTOPIA. Its symptom (which one can observe without even leaving London) is that the edge of Mumbai will look like the beginning of Shenzhen, and the center of Singapore will look like downtown Dallas.
In this video, Jesús Granada takes us inside the Austrian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The exhibition, titled Orte Für Menschen (Places for People), focuses on the creation of innovative housing solutions required to handle Austria’s current refugee crisis. The pavilion displays three projects currently underway in Vienna, where three architect teams have been paired with NGOs to convert abandoned buildings into temporary accommodation for asylum seekers, and later, into long-term residences.
Aravena's "Reporting From The Front" Is Nothing Like Koolhaas' 2014 Biennale—But It's Equally as Good
As director of the 2016 Venice Biennale, Alejandro Aravena has sought to shift the very grounds of architecture. Rather than an inward-looking interrogation of the profession's shortcomings, as Rem Koolhaas undertook in 2014, the Chilean Pritzker Prize-winner asks us to gaze in the opposite direction—to the vast swathes of the built horizon that traditionally lay beyond the profession's purview: urban slums, denatured megacities, conflict zones, environmentally compromised ports, rural villages far off the grid.
"We believe that the advancement of architecture is not a goal in itself but a way to improve people’s quality of life," states Aravena in his introduction to event. In other words, his biennale does not ask what architecture ought, yet often fails, to be, but rather what it could, yet often forgets, to do.
Stereotomic architecture is characterized by two strong themes: the continuity of the forces of gravity to the ground, into the soil; and the search for natural light, which drills through the massive, solid walls to illuminate and allow habitation by the human being. It’s from these themes that this project takes its power.
Today we present to you May’s Project of the Month, the San Bernardo Chapel, which in its search to transform ecclesiastic symbolism uses nature as a way of ritual expression. The client required a place in a remote location that accommodated religious acts and rituals, in a context in which time is reflected by the use of recycled materials—materials that have been a part of the place for more than 100 years. This established construction criteria based on ancient masonry techniques. However, the project also involved the use of new materials in the interior of the work, creating an interesting play of textures.
Konstantin Melnikov (August 3, 1890 – November 28, 1974) played a key role in shaping Soviet Architecture from the mid-twenties to mid-thirties, despite being independent from the Constructivists who dominated architecture at the time. Besides his well-known pavilion for the USSR at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Melnikov was famous in Moscow for his workers’ club building, for his own house, and for his bus garages.
With this recent photoset, photographer Denis Esakov (who is now looking for a publisher to produce a photobook featuring the full set of almost 600 images) has created a unique opportunity to explore – both inside and out – all 12 Melnikov projects that shaped Moscow’s Architecture during the Soviet Era.
In the past two weeks, ArchDaily readers have held debates on the preservation of the past in OMA's Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice, and discussed the future for the people of Makoko in Lagos after their much-praised floating school designed by NLÉ collapsed due to heavy rain. Read on to find out what they had to say about these stories and more.
Have you ever seen a building that breathes through thousands of pores? That may now be a possibility thanks to Tobias Becker’s Breathing Skins Project. Based on the concept of biomimicry, the technology is inspired by organic skins that adjust their permeability to control the necessary flow of light, matter and temperature between the inside and the outside. In addition to these performative benefits, the constantly changing appearance of these façades provides a rich interplay between the exterior natural environment and interior living spaces.
The theme for this year’s Venice Biennale is largely an invitation for architects and designers to expand and think beyond architecture’s traditional frontiers and to respond to a wider range of challenges relating to human settlement. With news of political crises continuing to fill the headlines of late, Aravena’s theme challenges architects to respond. One such response comes from Lucas Boyd and Chad Greenlee from the Yale School of Architecture. They believe that:
While [places of worship] do not provide a basic need for an individual’s biological survival, they do represent a fundamental aspect of not only an individual’s life beyond utility, but an identity within the collective, a familiar place of being—and this is something that we consider synonymous with being human—a requirement for the persistence of culture.
The two students came up with proposal designs on churches, synagogues and mosques that can be quickly built as “Pop-Up Places of Worship” in refugee camps. By presenting immediately-recognizable sacred spaces that are transportable and affordable, Boyd and Greenlee highlight spaces for worship as an absolute necessity in any type of human settlement. Through this process, the students also determine what, for them, is “necessary” in a religious structure.
In early March, at the Presidential Palace in Chile, a never before seen event took place for Chilean architecture. Architects, government officials as well as the media gathered for the first Venice Biennale press conference to be held in Spanish.
The Museum of London has released a shortlist and designs for the West Smithfield International Design Competition, organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants. The site, which will be the museum’s future home after outgrowing its place at the Barbican, is part of London’s Smithfield Market and includes the Smithfield General Market building, the Fish Market, the Red House and the Engine House. Welcoming over a million annual visitors at its current home, the museum’s new facility would allow attendance to double and enable the display of never-before-seen artifacts from the historic collection. The competition was funded by the Mayor of London through a £200,000 grant.
Back in September, Foster + Partners released details of their designs for a droneport in Rwanda, a humanitarian initiative that seeks to jumpstart and navigate the infrastructural challenges of emerging economies. In this video, Foster and others involved in the project explain the process of realizing the droneports, giving further details on its inclusion in this year’s Venice Biennale—with engaging new architectural visualizations to boot.