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A Utopian Dream Stood Still: Ricardo Bofill's Postmodern Parisian Housing Estate of Noisy-le-Grand

East of Paris, in Seine-Saint-Denis, sits a "Babel-like" housing estate. Its otherworldly atmosphere—existing somewhere between a 'new world' utopian dream and a postmodern, neoclassical housing estate—has set the scene for two Hollywood films including Brazil (1984) and, more recently, the upcoming second instalment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (2015). Parisian photographer Laurent Kronental's photo series, Souvenir d'un Futur (Memory of a Future), is an homage to the senior citizens of the French capital's Grand Ensemble region — not only in Noisy-le-Grand but across the Parisian banlieue. His photographs capture a number of places and their people which, in spite of their often megalomaniacal architectural settings, have been comparatively overlooked.

See Laurent Kronental's photo series—the result of four years of visits—after the break.

Les Orgues de Flandre, 19e arrondissement Paris, 2014. Image ©  Laurent Kronental Le Pavé Neuf, Noisy-le-Grand, 2015. Image ©  Laurent Kronental Joseph, 88 ans, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014. Image ©  Laurent Kronental Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014. Image ©  Laurent Kronental

4 Experiments in Robot and Drone 3D Printing that Could Shape Architecture's Future

In manufacturing, the dramatic recent expansion in the capabilities of 3D printing has threatened to revolutionize the way that things are made. In architecture though, while 3D printing has been received with enthusiasm its translation to the increased scale of buildings has been challenging. Most solutions to this problem have focused on increasingly large printers and the incorporation of existing principles of prefabrication - however there is another way. In this article, originally published on Autodesk’s Line//Shape//Space publication as "4 Ways a Robot or Drone 3D Printer Will Change Architecture and Construction," Zach Mortice looks at four examples of cutting-edge research into 3D printing that utilize robots or drones to navigate architecture's challenging scale.

Buildings simply aren’t made like anything else—that goes for sunglasses, furniture, appliances, and fighter jets. No other production process brings massive amounts of material to one place, constructs one item, and then hauls away the garbage. The inefficiencies are monumental.

Modular construction has promised a great deal of potential to reduce waste. But what if one answer is to do more intricate construction on-site, not less? 3D printers attached to robots and drones are demonstrating that they might have the versatility to finally bring the unruly building process to heel.

Architecture and Activism: Santiago's Emerging Practice Grupo TOMA

The word activist, long part of the vocabulary of social causes and political engagements, is an identifier gaining currency in architecture. As an era of “star architects” fades to be replaced by a generation eager to tackle local issues for everyday citizens, the shift has become the calling card of Santiago-based Grupo TOMA. Produced by ArchDaily as part of our partnership with The Architectural Review, the above film profiles the group of five friends – Mathias Klenner, Ignacio Rivas, Ignacio Saavedra, Eduardo Pérez and Leandro Cappetto – who have become an architectural collective interested in “the architect as a mediator, as an entity capable of linking organizations, of connecting political and economic powers."

For the past two and a half years, the group has sought out projects that convert industrial spaces of past eras into new facilities. Working without intermediaries has been a boon to the group’s experimental attitude and productivity, which might otherwise be curtailed by bureaucratic setbacks. With projects spanning from a few days to a few months, and some potentially longer, the group privileges social impact and memory over duration and material certainty.

What Happens When Light Starts to Create Brand Experiences?

Global companies often exploit architectural icons to transform physical form into their desired brand reputations. To help achieve this goal, after twilight, the natural qualities of buildings have often been supplemented by architectural lighting, as the facades call unmistakeably for attention with their colorful and dynamic illumination. Representation has become the leading motivation for upgrading the lighting at headquarters and retail outlets. But when the illumination evolves into spectacular gestures, the brand identity and architecture itself starts to fade. Hence, the struggle for individuality has revived the discussion about ornament – though ornament appears now as light.

Louis Vuitton Matsuya Ginza Facade Renewal / Jun Aoki & Associates. Image © Daici Ano © Diego Opazo Allianz Arena Munich by Herzog & de Meuron, Munich, Germany. Image © Allianz Arena/B. Ducke Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi by Asymptote, Abu Dhabi. Image © Viceroy Hotel Group

The Long(ish) Read: John Ruskin Considers 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture'

Welcome to the third installment of The Long(ish) Read: an AD feature which uncovers texts written by notable essayists that resonate with contemporary architecture, interior architecture, urbanism or landscape design. In this extract from The Seven Lamps of Architecture, published in 1849 and considered to be John Ruskin's first complete book on architecture, his studies are distilled into seven moral principles. These "Lamps" were intended to guide architectural practice of the time, advocating a profound respect for the original fabric of existing buildings. The opening chapter—The Lamp of Sacrifice—attempts to "distinguish carefully between Architecture and Building," set against the backdrop of Ruskin's (often criticised) world-view on the discipline at large.

How to Stand Out in an Architecture Job Interview: The STAR Portfolio

In his previous articles, Brandon Hubbard has discussed how to create the perfect short portfolio to get the attention of your future employer, and how to prepare for some of the most common interview questions. In this post, originally published on The Architect's Guide as "4 Reasons Why You Need a STAR Portfolio," Hubbard discusses the architect's key tool at an interview, and how to maximize its potential to impress.

Perhaps the most important component of any architecture job application is the portfolio. The key is to tailor the portfolio not only to the position to which you are applying but also to the correct stage in the application process.

As I covered in a previous article, The Two Page Architecture Portfolio, your first contact with an architecture firm should include a “sample portfolio” as a part of your application. This is usually two to five pages long and just like the resume it is a snapshot of your greatest work and experience. This is the approach I recommend at the outset, while at the other end of the application process - the interview - I advise a different approach.

This is where the STAR Portfolio comes in.

AD Classics: Menara Mesiniaga / T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn. Bhd.

Marking both an ending, and a beginning, the Menara Mesiniaga (Mesiniaga Tower) in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (just outside of Kuala Lumpur), is the culmination of Ken Yeang’s years of research into passive strategies for tall buildings, and it marks the first in a line of buildings (what he calls his ‘Series 2’ towers) that fully realize Yeang’s bioclimatic design principles. The embodiment of his tenacious goal to bring passive design to the hot humid climate of Southeast Asia, the principles on display at Menara Mesiniaga have influenced subsequent skyscraper designs across the globe.

"Grassroots Cactivism": Using Cacti and Eco-Tourism to Combat Drought in California

Although global warming may only be partially to blame for California’s now four-year, record-breaking drought – intensifying it by 15 to 20 percent, say scientists – the long term implications of the weather phenomenon are a preview of a drier future with less predictable weather patterns.[1] As ecology and architecture begin to share responsibility in the implications of climate change, future solutions will need to balance architectural needs with ecological imperatives. Many designers are accounting for water scarcity in schemes for the drought-stricken state, but only recently have ideas addressed this issue head-on. “Grassroots Cactivism,” an award-winning proposal by Ali Chen, suggests that the drought-tolerant nopales cactus, with a variety of uses, is an ideal candidate for aiding water-conservation in California.

Read on for more about this biological breakthrough in water conservation.

Resort Cafe. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen Cacti Yard Aerial, Day. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen Cacti Pond, Water Treatment Tanks. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen Resort + Cacti Yard Aerial, Sunset. Image Courtesy of Ali Chen

AR Issues: Why Ornament vs Icons is the Wrong Debate Entirely

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 September 2015 issue, Editor Christine Murray discusses the postmodern reappraisal of ornament that has recently returned to architectural consciousness, arguing "what is disappointing is that we are still stuck discussing how a building looks."

The return to ornament is an evolution of the "icon" building. The emphasis may be on craft rather than form, but these buildings still clamour for attention, shouting "I am here." They share with the icon its selfie-friendly facade. This is architecture destined to be photographed, perhaps even nicknamed, heralding its presence as a landmark through the use of decoration, from brick mosaics to gilded towers.

Where it differs from the icon is in the emphasis on ‘making’; the craftsmanship or process by which the decorative element was created. The ornamentation may also feature on only part of the building, whereas an icon always refers to the whole.

MASS Design Group to Propose “Bauhaus of Africa” at UN Summit

In designing and building multiple successful public buildings in central Africa and around the world, MASS Design Group has employed and guided thousands of local craftsmen, curating the building process to inspire dignity. Now, they wish to help the African people obtain the skills necessary to guide the process themselves. At the United Nations Solutions Summit this Sunday Christian Benimana, a program director for the non-profit design studio, will present plans for what they are calling the “Bauhaus of Africa”: three “African Design Centers” to be built over the next 10 years in strategic locations throughout the continent. The design centers will house an education program tasked with training a new generation of African architects - a workforce certain to be indispensable as Africa enters a period of unprecedented urban growth.

What Does Germán Samper See When He Draws?

Hiding out from the gentle Bogotá rain, a cat with turquoise eyes and a black and white coat prowls along the ledge of an office hidden in the midst of lush vegetation. A large window with a wooden frame filters the light and illuminates the interior: a desk, hundreds of books, manila folders, and backlit pictures. Sitting comfortably in his chair, 91-year-old Colombian architect Germán Samper takes a pencil, presses it to the surface of a sheet of paper, and begins to explain everything he is saying by drawing for us in the most clear and simple manner possible.

Whether he's giving instructions on taking a taxi in Bogotá  or explaining the recent modifications to the historic Colsubisdio citadel, Samper -- a master of Colombian architecture -- can express ideas on paper with an ease that makes us think that drawing might be very simple, but it's really just a great trick.

Perseverance is key and Samper knows this from experience. "I don't understand why architects don't draw more if it is truly a pleasure," he ponders.

After the break, a conversation with Germán Samper and a series of unedited sketches by the Colombian architect.

Critical Round-Up: Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Broad Museum

After teasing the general public by offering the press and 3,000 lucky local citizens with a preview day six months ago, the Broad Museum has finally opened its doors. Designed by Highline architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, the museum took four years and $140 million to build, adding its presence to LA’s architectural Broadway, Grand Avenue. With its visually striking facade given the tough task of responding to its enigmatic neighbor, Frank Gehry’s perennially polarizing Walt Disney Concert Hall, the building was sure to attract the attention of the critics, and they rose to the challenge in their droves. Read on to find out what five critics thought of the building dubbed “the veil over the vault.”

© Jeff Duran - Warren Air © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan

RIBA Awards 2016 Royal Gold Medal to Zaha Hadid

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have revealed that Dame Zaha Hadid will receive the 2016 Royal Gold Medal — the first sole woman to be awarded the UK's highest honour for architects in her own right. Previous female winners (Sheila O’Donnell in 2015, Patty Hopkins in 1994, and Ray Eames in 1979) were each recognised alongside their husbands and practice partners.

Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Her Majesty The Queen and is awarded to those who have had a significant influence "either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture." Other notable Royal Gold Medallists include Frank Gehry (2000), Lord Norman Foster, Baron of Thames Bank (1983), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1959), Le Corbusier (1953), and Frank Lloyd Wright (1941). The medallists' names are engraved into the marble wall at the RIBA's headquarters in London.

Video Series: Six Lessons from Six Leading Dutch Designers

There's something special about architecture in The Netherlands. From MVRDV's iconic Markthal in Rotterdam to WAM's whimsically stacked Inntel Hotel in Zaandam, for years Dutch design has questioned accepted architectural norms. The country has long been considered a leader in design, catalyzed in part by The Netherlands' famous architectural trailblazer Rem Koolhaas. Since 1975 Koolhaas' Rotterdam-based firm OMA has realized dozens of unorthodox designs and has been linked with the creation of more than forty major architecture practices worldwide.

In 2000 Bart Lootsma released Superdutch, a bestselling opus on the mythology of Dutch architecture and its thought leaders, which provided a glimpse into the enduring humanist approach to design that has earned global praise for the country's architects. In the book, Lootsma profiled a handful of Dutch firms including UNStudio, West 8 and MVRDV. Fifteen years later, students from Canada's Simon Fraser University formed a collective called Groep Drie to continue the conversation. From Herman Hertzberger to Ben van Berkel, Groep Drie sat down with The Netherlands' most innovative designers to talk urbanism, spiritualism, color, and more.

Read on to find out what The Netherlands' leading architects had to say.

7 Buildings That Show Norman Foster's Architecture Has Always Been Ahead of the Curve

If Norman Foster were a household item, he would surely be a Swiss Army Knife. Foster, who turned 80 this year, is unrelenting in producing architectural solutions to problems that other architects can only theorize - just last Wednesday, for example, his firm released their design for a previously-unheard-of building typology, a droneport in Rwanda.

It is surprising then to find the man or his eponymous firm Foster + Partners absent from a list like Fast Company’s “The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Architecture,” organized into superlatives: MMA Architects, “for thinking outside the big box,” Heatherwick Studio, “for reimagining green space,” or C.F. Møller Architects, “for rethinking high-rise living.” This is not to say that Foster or his firm should be substituted for any of these deserved accolades, but rather that for five decades Foster and his firm have ceaselessly worked to enhance and expand on the human experience with architectural solutions that are both inventive and practical - a fact that is perhaps lost as a result of his position within the architectural establishment.

With that in mind, we thought it was worth highlighting the many occasions over the decades where Foster + Partners has shown themselves to be among the world's most innovative practices. Read on for more.

Ground Level View of Lunar Habitation. Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners Interior Concourse of Chek Lap Kok Airport. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC user Jorge Láscar Hearst Tower. Image © Chuck Choi Aerial View of Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters. Image © Wikimedia CC user Mato zilincik

What Are the Weirdest Words That Only Architects Use?

It's no secret that the unique specificities of the architectural profession can lead to a lot of jargon. In fact for many non-experts, the opaque nature of architectural language can be one of the most significant barriers to taking part in a discussion about their local environment. But why this juxtaposition between regular and professional speech? If we wish to make the architecture profession less homogenous, shouldn't we conceptualize a new way of talking about architecture? That's why we want to hear from our readers: which words do architects use too much? And what are the wider effects of this language, both inside and outside of the architecture profession?

Alternative Realities: 7 Radical Buildings That Could-Have-Been

In It’s A Wonderful Life the film’s protagonist George Bailey, facing a crisis of faith, is visited by his guardian angel, and shown an alternate reality where he doesn’t exist. The experience gives meaning to George’s life, showing him his own importance to others. With the increasing scale of design competitions these days, architectural “could-have-beens” are piling up in record numbers, and just as George Bailey's sense of self was restored by seeing his alternate reality, hypothesizing about alternative outcomes in architecture is a chance to reflect on our current architectural moment.

Today marks the one-year-anniversary of the opening of Phase 3 of the High Line. While New Yorkers and urbanists the world over have lauded the success of this industrial-utility-turned-urban-oasis, the park and the slew of other urban improvements it has inspired almost happened very differently. Although we have come to know and love the High Line of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations, in the original ideas competition four finalists were chosen and the alternatives show stark contrasts in how things might have shaped up.

On this key date for one of the most crucial designs of this generation, we decided to look back at some of the most important competitions of the last century to see how things might have been different.

Joseph Marzella's second-place design for the Sydney Opera House. Image via The Daily Mail Designs for the Chicago Tribune Tower by Adolf Loos (left) and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz (right). Image via Design for the High Line by Zaha Hadid Architects with Balmori Associates, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and studio MDA. Image via University of Adelaide on Cargo Collective Moshe Safdie's design for the Centre Pompidou. Image Courtesy of Safdie Architects

AD Classics: National Congress / Oscar Niemeyer

Located at the head of the abstract bird-shaped city plan by Lúcio Costa, and as the only building within the central greensward of the eastern arm of the Monumental Axis, the palace of the National Congress (Congresso Nacional) enjoys pride of place among Oscar Niemeyer’s government buildings in Brasília. The most sober of the palaces on the Plaza of the Three Powers, the National Congress reflects the strong influence of Le Corbusier, while hinting at the more romantic and whimsical forms that characterize Niemeyer’s trademark Brazilian Modernism.