There is something unsettling about this trailer – something uncomfortable. On the surface it’s as optimistic as any other film about Bjarke Ingels, the architectural protege and principal of BIG, of which there have been many. He is incandescently youthful, remarkably young when tallied to the level of his repute and success, and perhaps the last of the world-building, world conquering 'media darlings' of the 20th and 21st Centuries. He is, many would argue, an unstoppable force.
As a young boy, Santiago Calatrava's fascination with light in his native Valencia fueled his determination to draw, design, and eventually build. His Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) is a perfect example of the influence of the Valencian sun on the architect's work. The seven cultural buildings define a formal vocabulary all their own, with a dynamism between blanched curves and rhythmic visual patterns. So bright it almost glows on clear days, the materiality of the structures emphasizes the ability of light to outline the spatial relationships between Calatrava's shapes, and shift them as the sun moves through the sky.
In his most recent photo series, Sebastian Weiss has captured the tendency of the shapes of the City of Arts and Sciences to "complement each other and even merge to a harmonic unity," as the photographer himself puts it. The photos were originally featured on his Instagram, @le_blanc, and develop a new way of looking at the oft-photographed tourist spot. His images imagine the complex as a pulsating "light-space installation" of equally systematic and creature-like forms in constant conversation with one another. The series gives the sense of looking at different sections of a particularly beautiful beast—its ribs, underbelly, horns, etc.—captured within the complex's shallow pools.
This Underground Bathhouse on the Korean Border Questions Architecture's Role in Geopolitical Tension
Since 1953, the 160-mile (260 kilometer) strip of land along the Korean Peninsula's 38th parallel has served as a Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ is more than a border; it's a heavily guarded, nearly four-mile-wide (6 kilometer) buffer zone between the two countries. Each military stays behind its own country's edge of the zone, perpetually awaiting potential conflict, and access to the interior of the zone itself is unyieldingly limited. Apart from the landmines and patrolling troops, the interior of the DMZ also holds thriving natural ecosystems that have been the subject of studies on what happens when wildlife is allowed to flourish in the absence of human contact.
In a competition that asked participants to design an underground bathhouse near the Kaesong Industrial Park, a (currently suspended) cooperative economic project that employs workers from both North and South Korea, research initiative Arch Out Loud imagined a DMZ that accommodates non-military structures that are typically seen as out of place in areas of such sensitivity and tension. The winning proposal by Studio M.R.D.O and Studio LAM utilizes the performative element of a bathhouse, where visitors are both audience members and actors, to the address the tensions—both geopolitical, from its surrounding environment, and personal, from the related emotions visitors carry with them—between both groups.
In our article in February, "11 Vernacular Building Techniques That Are Disappearing," we discussed vernacular techniques that, through the introduction of modern building and the waning prevalence of traditional lifestyles, were slowly becoming lost forms of knowledge. What we didn't discuss, though, was that few of the techniques were disappearing without some form of resistance. After the article was published we were contacted by Dutch architecture firm LEVS Architecten, who highlighted their efforts work in the Dogon region of Mali, where they work with local communities to continue--and improve--the vernacular Dogon tradition.
Despite the fact that LEVS Architecten has worked extensively within this tradition, they still consider themselves modern architects who are simply looking for responsible, alternative solutions, and have even found opportunities to utilize this knowledge for architecture projects back in the Netherlands. As Jurriaan van Stigt, partner at LEVS Architecten and chairman of Partners Pays-Dogon, explained in an interview with ArchDaily, vernacular architecture is “in the undercurrent of our thinking and approach to the tasks that lay behind every project.”
A thorough architectural response towards the growing problems of population, climate, and urban migration is currently on display at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen, in the form of the upcycled Wasteland exhibition. Curated by Danish architecture firm Lendager Group, the exhibits shown in Wasteland are filled with raw materials, processes, experiments and methods, backed up with a long list of shocking facts about our effects on planet Earth: over 2 million tons of CO2 have been emitted globally this year; over 3.3 billion tons of resources have been extracted from the earth globally this year; over 127 million tons of waste have been dumped globally this year—all totalling a cost of over $14 trillion USD resulting from our failure to act on climate change. These are the live statistics (as shown at the time of ArchDaily’s visit last Friday) which confront visitors in the first room of the exhibition space. They provide context for what is to follow.
Soo Chan: “Architecture is About Preserving a Way of Life, Not Simply Introducing a New Formal Language”
By combining such concepts as phenomenology, sustainability and formal exploration, which have become part of a particularly Singaporean conception of architecture, Soo Chan of SCDA Architects occupies an unusual niche within the architecture profession. To complement this wide range of interests, his firm also engages in a wide range of activities, working on architecture, landscape, and interiors projects, and even acting as its own developer on a number of occasions. In this latest interview from Vladimir Belogolovsky's “City of Ideas” column, Chan discusses the early experiences that led to his current understanding of architecture, and how the context of Singapore has affected his designs.
Vladimir Belogolovsky: Was architecture on your mind from an early age? What was it that first attracted you to the discipline?
Soo Chan: I was deeply influenced by the house I grew up in, the Khoo Kongsi compound in Penang, an island off the west coast of Malaysia. Khoo Kongsi was planned around a central communal courtyard where many generations of my extended family lived, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site today. I can still picture the spatial and light qualities of the long and narrow house I grew up in, punctuated with open air wells. I remember the smell of fresh rain coming deep into the house on to the sunken courts, and the pockets of light and darkness in the house.
It can sometimes feel as if the world is divided into two camps: those who do not listen to podcasts (probably because they don’t know what a podcast is) and those who listen to podcasts, love podcasts, and keep badgering their friends for recommendations so they can start listening to even more.
Unlike other media, it’s notoriously difficult to discover and share podcasts – even more so if you’re looking for a podcast on a niche subject like architecture, design or urbanism. To help you in your hour of need, Metropolis’ Vanessa Quirk (author of Guide to Podcasting) and ArchDaily’s James Taylor-Foster (whose silvery tones you may have heard on various architecture and design audio stories) have come together to compile this list of eleven podcasts you should subscribe to.
This article was originally published by The Architect's Newspaper as "Are micro-apartments a revolutionary trend? Or are developers exploiting an out-of-control market?"
The situation was dire: People were flocking to cities for work, but scarce land and lack of new construction were driving up rent prices. Middle-income residents couldn’t afford the high-end housing stock, nor did they want to enter cramped—sometimes illegally so—apartments. Luckily, a new housing solution appeared: In exchange for small, single-occupancy units, residents could share amenities—like a restaurant-kitchen, dining area, lounge, and cleaning services—that were possible thanks to economies of scale. Sound familiar?
It should: It’s the basic premise behind Carmel Place, a micro-apartment development in Manhattan’s Kips Bay that recently started leasing. The development—whose 55 units range from 260 to 360 square feet—was the result of Mayor Bloomberg’s 2012 adAPT NYC Competition to find housing solutions for the city’s shortage of one- and two-person apartments. Back then, Carmel Place needed special legal exceptions to be built, but last March the city removed the 400-square-foot minimum on individual units. While density controls mean another all-micro-apartment building is unlikely, only building codes will provide a de facto minimum unit size (somewhere in the upper 200 square foot range). What does this deregulation mean for New York City’s always-turbulent housing market? Will New Yorkers get new, sorely needed housing options or a raw deal?
As creators, we all go through stages of creativity. Some phases are more severe than others, but getting emotionally involved is, in most cases, unavoidable. In many cases, the emotional intensity of design can be so intense, it begins to resemble another well-known emotional process—one that generally includes the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Design may not literally be as difficult as losing a loved one, but it's little coincidence that in the architecture profession, one's best concepts are often referred to as their "babies," and any design process will involve a fair amount of letting them go.
To paraphrase the existing psychological literature, "as long as there is creativity, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is creativity." So join us as we explain the architect's path through the five stages of
griefcreativity experienced in any design process.
In one of his 1922 travel essays for the Toronto Star Ernest Hemingway wrote, in a typically thewy tone, of “a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways and all stuck over with large brown hotels built [in] the cuckoo style of architecture.” This was his Switzerland: a country cornered in the heartland of Europe and yet distant from so much of its history. A nation which, for better or worse and particularly over the course of the 20th Century, has cultivated and become subject to a singularly one-dimensional reputation when it comes to architectural culture and the built environment.
At a time when so much of what we do happens online, there is a lot we can learn from tracking the way we use the web. Alexa is an Amazon company that sells data insights from millions of Internet users aimed at business owners (we'll save the data ethics discussion for a different day). A selection of Alexa's data is available to the public, with the company presenting a list of sites with the highest average daily visitor and pageview counts—including a list of the biggest websites in the architectural world, from yours truly on down.
But which is the most popular architectural firm, school, or individual building? Continue reading to find the top architecture websites for each category based on Alexa's count of the past month's traffic—there may be some surprises!
A year after her untimely passing, we take a look back on one of the hallmarks of Zaha Hadid's career as an architect: her sketches. In October we wrote about how her paintings influenced her architecture. Now, we examine her most emblematic sketches and the part they played in the initial formal exploration of her design process.
Zaha Hadid's projects are remarkable not only for her innovative way of handling tangible materials but also for her imagination regarding the medium of light. Her theories of fragmentation and fluidity are now well-known design techniques which enabled her form-finding. However, her advances in using light to render her architecture have often been neglected—even though they became an essential element in revealing and interpreting her architecture. The three-decade transition from minimal light lines at her early Vitra Fire Station to the world's tallest atrium at the Leeza SOHO skyscraper, which collects an abundance of daylight, shows the remarkable development of Zaha Hadid’s luminous legacy.
It was in 1988, at London’s Tate Gallery during the Deconstructivism conference held in anticipation of MoMA’s eponymous exhibition that I first encountered Zaha Hadid in person. She was lecturing among her six co-exhibitors: Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, Wolf Prix, Bernard Tschumi, and Daniel Libeskind. I had encountered her work a few years earlier as a young architecture student (at Stuttgart University) and was stunned and thrilled by the unprecedented degrees of compositional freedom, versatility and dynamism in her work. Up until then I had not been so sure if architecture was such a good career choice for me. I was rather underwhelmed and bored by architecture but, through my encounter with Zaha’s incredible work, architectural design unexpectedly transformed into an adventure. The bounds of architectural possibilities had shifted. Thirty years later, this sense of adventure continues. Zaha changed our field and changed everything for me.
There’s a decent chance that in the last few days, you’ve seen images of Analemma, the futuristic proposal from Clouds AO to hang a skyscraper (or should that be “earthscraper”?) from an asteroid in orbit of the earth. The project has been difficult to avoid, having been picked up not only by much of the architectural media but also by NBC, CNN, Forbes, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Mashable, IFLScience—the list goes on almost as long as the building itself.
Is the design realistic? Obviously not, and it’s obviously not intended to be. It’s intended as a utopian thought experiment. Clouds AO has something of a pedigree in this field, as winners of a NASA-backed competition to design a Mars base with their idea for a building made of ice. As a result, it would be facile to join the internet’s collective bottom-of-the-page comment mob to point out that it would be prohibitively expensive, or that it might be more enjoyable to live on the ground anyway.
But is the design a useful utopian thought experiment? There are some design failures that better technology, or a lot of money, or the changed mindset of a futuristic society just won’t fix. So without further ado, here are a list of the problems that this out-of-this-world design would face, in chronological order, with the issues that make it impractical in our current world marked as “minor” and the ones that would undermine the proposal in any universe marked as “major.”
When Philip Johnson curated the Museum of Modern Arts’ (MoMA) 1932 “International Exhibition of Modern Architecture,” he did so with the explicit intention of defining the International Style. As a guest curator at the same institution in 1988 alongside Mark Wigley (now Dean Emeritus of the Columbia GSAPP), Johnson took the opposite approach: rather than present architecture derived from a rigidly uniform set of design principles, he gathered a collection of work by architects whose similar (but not identical) approaches had yielded similar results. The designers he selected—Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Bernard Tschumi, and the firm Coop Himmelblau (led by Wolf Prix)—would prove to be some of the most influential architects of the late 20th Century to the present day.[1,2]
In this essay by the British architect and academic Dr. Timothy Brittain-Catlin, the very notion of British postmodernism—today often referred to as intimately tied to the work of James Stirling and the the thinking of Charles Jencks—is held to the light. Its true origins, he argues, are more historically rooted.
I grew up in a beautiful late Victorian terrace with ornamental brickwork, shaped ‘Dutch’ gables and pretty arts and crafts stained glass windows – and so I didn’t think then, and I don’t think now, that I had much to learn from Las Vegas. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one. Of British architects who made their names as postmodernists in the 1980s, not a single one would say now that they owed much to Robert Venturi, the American architect widely considered to be a grandfather of movement.
This article was originally published by The Architect's Newspaper as "The American suburbs are the next fertile ground for architectural and urban experimentation."
The last twenty-odd years may have seen the remarkable comeback of cities, but the next twenty might actually be more about the suburbs, as many cities have become victims of their own success. The housing crisis—a product of a complex range of factors from underbuilding to downzoning—has made some cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, a playground for the ultra-wealthy, pushing out long-time residents and making the city unaffordable for the artists, creatives, and small businesses who make vibrant places.