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10 Things The “Cities: Skylines” Video Game Taught Us About Modern Urbanism

Ask a random person in the street about their favorite hobbies, and it’s unlikely that they’ll say “urban planning and traffic management” - yet when video games began to take off in the late 1980s city-building was one of the first breakout hits, in the form of Maxis’ SimCity series. The huge success of the “Sim” series in general drove conversations about the value of simulation, as part of the general 1990s optimism about virtual worlds being the future. Sim games became the subject of academic critiques of their philosophy of the world, while city builders became a lot more than a game: in 2002, SimCity 3000 was used as a semi-serious test for mayoral candidates in Warsaw.

After a slump caused by a difficult transition to 3D graphics, city builders are back in vogue. Following what is widely considered as a disappointing SimCity reboot in 2013, Finland’s Colossal Order recently released Cities: Skylines to critical and financial success. But simulations require assumptions; they are, after all, written by people who have their own conscious and unconscious views on how and why cities work. The limitations around designing a video game - the fact that each asset must be modeled and textured, and that each transport option requires a huge amount of work to simulate - mean that Cities: Skylines is as stripped down and streamlined an articulation of urban philosophy as Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse or the New Urbanists' models, and just as interesting. We investigate 10 things this game tells us about 21st century urbanism, after the break.

6 Proposals Revealed for Oslo's New Government Quarter

Nearly 100 architects, designers, and consultants have been developing designs for a competition for the new government quarter in Oslo. Drawing an initial 24 entries, the intent of the competition was to generate viable solutions for the future relocation of all government ministries (excluding the defense ministry), emphasizing an urban atmosphere and public elements. In the six shortlisted proposals from both local and international firms, including BIG, Snøhetta, and MVRDV, the themes of building tall and introducing green space emerged.

Now a ten-member committee of industry professionals will assist Statsbygg, the public construction advisers collaborating on the government's behalf, with the evaluation of each design. Take a look at the six proposals after the break.

Courtesy of Asplan Viak Courtesy of Snøhetta Courtesy of White Courtesy of LPO

Inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces 2015 Participants

A 60-strong list of international studios has named the official participants of the first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial - the “largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America.” Chosen by Biennial Co-Artistic Directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda - who are supported by an advisory council comprising David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, Frank Gehry, Sylvia Lavin, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Peter Palumbo, and Stanley Tigerman - each participating practice will convene in Chicago to discuss "The State of the Art of Architecture" and showcase their work from October 3 to January 3, 2016.

“The city of Chicago has left an indelible mark on the field of architecture, from the world’s first modern skyscraper to revolutionary urban designs,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “That’s why there’s no better host city than Chicago for this rare global event. The Chicago Architecture Biennial offers an unprecedented chance to celebrate the architectural, cultural, and design advancements that have collectively shaped our world.”

A complete list of participants, after the break. 

Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India's Ancient River

Few geographies in the world nurture such a rich and complex imaginary as the Ganges River Valley. The heart of Indian Culture, and home to over one quarter of India’s population, the Ganges is one of the most fertile and infrastructure-heavy river valleys in the planet. Its many physical, historical and spiritual natures defy a single interpretation: always in flux, source of life and destruction, and venerated as a Hindu Deity, the Ganges fully embodies the complexities and excesses of the Indian Civilization.

In “Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River,” Anthony Acciavatti orchestrates a magnificent portrait of the Ganges River Basin, and its continuous reinvention as a test-bed for infrastructural innovation. Through the hybrid genre of the Atlas-Almanac-Travelogue, the book unfolds the many nested spatial and temporal scales that characterize this highly contested territory. Those captivated with the planetary urbanization of water will find in this book a timely and relevant volume of encyclopedic ambition and exquisite design.

© Anthony Acciavatti © Anthony Acciavatti © Anthony Acciavatti © Anthony Acciavatti

Architecture, Economics and Aquariums: Can ICM Revive the Bilbao Effect in Asia?

The "Bilbao effect" was once viewed as the savior of the other cities; a way for post-industrial cities in the 1990s and 2000s to not only replace their economic reliance on failing industry with tourism, but to reinvent themselves as capitals of High Culture, enriching both body and soul. This has long since ceased to be the case, and many now see it instead as an ironic monument to hubris. But while architecture in the west is attempting to find a viable successor, rapidly expanding economies in Asia and South East Asia seem poised to embark on a new wave of architectural and cultural flourishes designed to attract tourists and Thai Baht.

Avia Park, Moscow. Image Courtesy of ICM AquaMundo, Santo Dominigo. Image Courtesy of ICM Mardan Palace, Antalya. Image Courtesy of ICM Life Support, Antalya. Image Courtesy of ICM

Patrik Schumacher: "The Denunciation of Architectural Icons and Stars is Superficial and Ignorant"

In the latest of his provocative posts on Facebook, Patrik Schumacher has come out in defense of iconic design and star architects, arguing that the current trend of criticism is "superficial and ignorant," and "all-too-easy point-scoring which indeed usually misses the point."

Schumacher says that critics "should perhaps slow down a bit in their (pre-)judgement and reflect on their role as mediators between the discourse of architecture and the interested public." In the 1,400 word post, he goes on to elaborate that so-called icons and the star system are inevitable results of this mediation, adding that "explanation rather than dismissal and substitution should be seen as the critics’ task."

Read on after the break for more highlights from Schumacher's argument

Light Matters: Learning From Vernacular Windows

Before computer daylight simulations were used to optimize the atmosphere and energy in buildings, generations of builders developed simple principles to create the best windows for their site. Two lighting experts have studied these traditional openings in buildings to find inspiration for more sustainable designs today. Francesco Anselmo, a lighting designer at Arup, and John Mardaljevic, Professor of Building Daylight Modelling at the School of Civil & Building Engineering of Loughborough University, have analysed the sun and skylight variations from northern regions like Stockholm down to the equator in cities like Haiti or Abu Dhabi.

Read on to learn more about the variety of traditional windows.

Window in Rome, Italy. Image © VELUX Group Window in Stockholm, Sweden. Image © VELUX Group Window in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Image © VELUX Group Window in London, Great Britain. Image © VELUX Group

The Architecture Of Death

At the 2014 Venice Biennale, away from the concentrated activity of the Arsenale and Giardini, was Death in Venice: one of the few independent projects to take root that year. The exhibition was curated by Alison Killing and Ania Molenda, who worked alongside LUST graphic designers. It saw the hospitals, cemeteries, crematoria and hospices of London interactively mapped creating, as Gian Luca Amadei put it, an overview of the capital's "micro-networks of death." Yet it also revealed a larger message: that architecture related to death and dying appears to no longer be important to the development of architecture as a discipline.

© A. Molenda © A. Molenda © A. Molenda © A. Molenda

'Dimensionless' Photographic Façade Studies By Nikola Olic

Nikola Olic is an architectural photographer based in Dallas, Texas, with a focus on capturing and reimagining buildings and sculptural objects in "dimensionless and disorienting ways." His photographs, which often isolate views of building façades, frame architectural surfaces in order for them to appear to collapse into two dimensions. According to Olic, "this transience can be suspended by a camera shutter for a fraction of a second." As part of his process, each photograph is named before being given a short textual accompaniment.

See a selection of Olic's photographs after the break.

Ripper Building. Image © Nikola Olic Rectangle Building. Image © Nikola Olic Building with Curtains. Image © Nikola Olic Building with Steps. Image © Nikola Olic

Virtual Reality: Coming to an Architecture Office Near You

Virtual Reality. It’s an old term, even an old technology, but it carries new weight - and it’s coming to architecture, soon. Its prevalence will be a result of its near universal accessibility; the experience can now be powered by the modern cell phone. It’s probably on your desk, in your pocket - you may even be reading on a virtual reality engine right now. The price point to participate, thanks to Google Cardboard and a device you already own, is less than twenty dollars.

Google Cardboard might be considered a wearable, but don’t think Google Glass and shiver. As it stands, the technology is more inline with a smart-tv or peripheral, not something to be worn in public. Before we get into what it is, let’s talk about what it can do. We as designers have gotten very good at showing what a space might look like, but in many ways we have come no further in demonstrating what a space feels like.

Playing with Balance and the Balance of Play: Hello Wood's 2014 Camp

A shortened version of this article by ArchDaily's Managing Editor Rory Stott appears in HW 1-5, a book by the organizers of Hello Wood about the camp's first five years.

Arriving at Budapest’s international airport on a warm Saturday in July, I confess to being unprepared for my week ahead at Hello Wood 2014. Hungary was the third country and Budapest the fourth city I had been in in 72 hours, and thanks to this (uncharacteristically) chaotic week, I hadn’t had the chance to research anything about the camp. All I knew was what could be learned from the photos of the 2013 camp which I had published almost a year earlier: that is, that the camp is held in an idyllic rural setting, presumably a significant distance from Budapest; and that the quality of work seems unusually high for a week-long architecture workshop, presumably indicating a serious, focused atmosphere at the camp.

The first of these assumptions was absolutely right. But the second could hardly be more wrong. In fact the atmosphere at the camp was so far from being serious that by Tuesday, Gábor Betegh - a friend of the organizers and coincidentally Cambridge University’s new Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy - told me how fascinating it was to compare the “centripetal madness” of the philosophers he knows to the “very centrifugal madness” of the architects at the camp. This remark was made in response to one of the team leaders screeching like a monkey from the top of his team’s half-completed tower.

© Géza Talabér © Anna Vághy Playground / Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop. Image © Géza Talabér © Géza Talabér

The Life Of Dalibor Vesely: Teacher, Philosopher, Acclaimed Academic

Dalibor Vesely, a celebrated architectural historian, philosopher and teacher, died this week in London aged 79. Over the course of his teaching career, which spanned five decades, he tutored a number of the world’s leading architects and thinkers from Daniel Libeskind, Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Robin Evans, to Mohsen Mostafavi and David Leatherbarrow.

Vesely was born in Prague in 1934, five years before the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Following World War II, he studied engineering, architecture, art history and philosophy in Prague, Munich, Paris and Heidelberg. He was awarded his doctorate from Charles University (Prague) having been taught and supervised by Josef Havlicek, Karel Honzik, and Jaroslav Fragner. Although later he would be tutored by James Stirling, it was the philosopher of phenomenology Jan Patočka who, in his own words, “contributed more than anyone else to [his] overall intellectual orientation and to the articulation of some of the critical topics” explored in his seminal book, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation, published in 2004.

Video: Olympiapark München / Frei Otto

Pritzker laureate Frei Otto was best known for his tensile structures. A prime example Otto’s ingenuity, the 1972 Olympic Stadium in Munich was a collaborative work with Gunther Behnisch that connected the park’s main programs - the natatorium, gymnasium and main stadium - with a whimsical, lightweight canopy structure that mimicked the “rhythmic protrusions” of the Swiss Alps. Watch the Spirit of Space short film above to see the project in its current state and learn more about the pioneering structure, here.

Corporate Dystopia: Liam Young Imagines a World in which Tech Companies Own Our Cities

What if the manufacturers of the phones and social networks we cling to became the rulers of tomorrow’s cities? Imagine a world in which every building in your neighborhood is owned by Samsung, entire regions are occupied by the ghosts of our digital selves, and cities spring up in international waters to house outsourced laborers. These are the worlds imagined by self-described speculative architect, Liam Young in his latest series of animations entitled ”New City.” Read on after the break to see all three animations and learn more about what’s next in the series.

From "The City in the Sea". Image Courtesy of Liam Young From "Keeping up Appearances". Image Courtesy of Liam Young From "Keeping up Appearances". Image Courtesy of Liam Young From "The Edgelands". Image Courtesy of Liam Young

Venice Biennale 2016: 5 Proposals Shortlisted for Australian Pavilion

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has revealed the five proposals shortlisted for exhibition at the Australian Pavilion at Venice's 2016 Architecture Biennale. The announcement comes following a two-stage presentation and selection process judged by the Venice Biennale Commission, currently helmed by AIA Immediate Past President Paul Berkemeier. 

The 2016 Biennale will mark the inaugural exhibition within Australia's new pavilion at Venice, designed by Denton Corker Marshall and slated for a May 2015 opening.

Read more about the shortlisted projects after the break.

Parlour Live! / Justine Clark and Naomi Stead with Maryam Gusheh, Catherine Griffiths and Fiona Young . Image Courtesy of Australian Institute of Architects Objects / Andrew Burns and Mark Gowing . Image Courtesy of Australian Institute of Architects Wide Open / Ed Lippmann, Dr Anne Watson, Susan Freeman and Michael Hill . Image Courtesy of Australian Institute of Architects POST / John de Manincor, Sandra Kaji-O’Grady and Misho Baranovic . Image Courtesy of Australian Institute of Architects

Review: 'All Of This Belongs To You' - Civic Urbanism At London's Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), named after the Queen and Her Consort, has its foundations in the Great Exhibition of 1851 amidst the wealth, innovation and squalor of the Industrial Revolution. Britain was flooded by prosperity which allowed for the development of major new institutions to collect and exhibit objects of cultural significance or artistic value. The institute’s first director, Henry Cole, declared that it should be “a schoolroom for everyone,” and a democratic approach to its relationship with public life has remained the cornerstone of the V&A. Not only has it always been free of charge but it was also the first to open late hours (made possible by gas lighting), allowing a more comprehensive demographic of visitor.

Their latest exhibition, which opens today, seeks to realign the museum’s vast collection and palatial exhibition spaces in South Kensington with these founding concepts. The interventions of All of This Belongs to You attempt to push the V&A’s position as an extension of London’s civic and cultural built environment to the fore, testing the museum’s ability to act as a 21st century public institution. To do this in London, a city where the notion of public and private is increasingly blurred, has resulted in a sequence of compelling installations which are tied together through their relevance either in subject matter, technique, or topicality.

The Ethics of Dust: Trajan’s Column by Jorge Oteros-Pailos. Image © Peter Kelleher / Victoria & Albert Museum ‘AgBags’ installed on the V&A’s stone façade as part of a work by Natalie Jermijenko. Image © Peter Kelleher / Victoria & Albert Museum Spike studs by Kent Stainless Ltd. that are intended 
to discourage people from sitting or sleeping 
in various spaces in the city. Image © Peter Kelleher / Victoria & Albert Museum MacBook Air casing and components from a computer used by journalists to write editorial about the data leaked to The Guardian newspaper by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. Image © The Guardian/ Victoria & Albert Museum

6 Politically Motivated Cities Built From Scratch

Threatening to end Cairo’s 1,046 year dominance as the country’s capital, earlier this month the government of Egypt announced their intentions to create a new, yet-to-be-named capital city just east of New Cairo. The promise of the more than 270 square mile ‘new New Cairo’ has attracted headlines from around the world with its sheer scale; a $45 billion development of housing, shopping and landmarks designed to attract tourism from day one, including a theme park larger than Disneyland. And of course, the plans include the promise of homes - for at least 5 million residents in fact, with the vast number of schools, hospitals and religious and community buildings that a modern city requires - making the new capital of Egypt the largest planned city in history.

The idea of building a new capital city has appealed to governments across history; a way to wipe the slate clean, stimulate the economy and lay out your vision of the world in stone, concrete and parkland. Even old Cairo was founded as a purpose built capital, although admittedly urban planning has changed a little since then. It continues to change today; see the full list of different ways to build a totally new city after the break.

Image of the planned new capital of Egypt, masterplanned by SOM. Image © SOM Train station. Image © SOM Government District. Image © SOM Concept of Cairo's replacement by Skidmore, Owings and Merril. Image © SOM

eVolo Announces 2015 Skyscraper Competition Winners

From 480 submitted projects from around the world, three winners and 15 honorable mentions have emerged at the top of eVolo’s 2015 Skyscraper Competition. Recognizing innovative highrise designs of the future, the competition emphasizes the role of technology, material, spatial organization, and their combined contribution to the natural and built environments. This year’s winners showed exceptional promise in adaptive vertical communities, and explored their ideas through imaginative and resourceful means.

Check out the winners and honorable mentions, after the break.

Honorable Mention: “Tower of Refuge” / Qidan Chen. Image Courtesy of eVolo Honorable Mention: "Cloud Capture" / Taehan Kim, Seoung Ji Lee, Yujin Ha. Image Courtesy of eVolo Honorable Mention: “Reversal Strategy” / Luigi Bertazzoni, Paolo Giacomo Vasino. Image Courtesy of eVolo Honorable Mention: “Bio-Pyramid: Reversing Desertification” / David Sepulveda, Wagdy Moussa, Ishaan Kumar, Wesley Townsend, Colin Joyce, Arianna Armelli, Salvador Juarez. Image Courtesy of eVolo