A Look Back: 8 Years of Social and Urban Projects

15:00 - 9 March, 2016

In the past eight years the world has seen important changes – stemming from natural catastrophes, global warming, war, diseases, political and economic crisis among other things – all of which have a direct impact on the way we inhabit our planet and therefore how architects and planners are managing context-related designs for community living.

The importance of socially engaged architecture was highlighted by this year's Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena, whose work appeals to the idea of an active, committed architect who seeks for a democratic urban environment. This development also resonates strongly with ArchDaily's mission statement "to improve the quality of life of the next 3 billion people that will move into cities in the next 40 years, by providing inspiration, knowledge and tools to the architects who will have the challenge to design for them."

Therefore, in celebration of ArchDaily's 8th birthday, our Projects Team curated a selection of 24 exemplary projects divided into 3 categories. Each of these projects published over the past 8 years dedicate their design to find greater social, community, civil and humanitarian needs.

Interview with James Wines: "The Point is to Attack Architecture!"

09:30 - 9 March, 2016
Interview with James Wines: "The Point is to Attack Architecture!", BEST Products Indeterminate Façade building (1974). Image © SITE
BEST Products Indeterminate Façade building (1974). Image © SITE

As the founder of SITE, an architecture firm most widely-known for their seminal series of stores for BEST in the 1970s, James Wines has become something of an anomaly in the field of architecture: originally an artist, his approach of creating architecture as a form of cultural criticism struck a chord almost universally, delighting critics and the public alike. In this interview, the latest in Vladimir Belogolovsky's “City of Ideas” column, Wines explains the ideas behind those early designs and how his subsequent works have continued that thread of ideas.

Vladimir Belogolovsky: You were born in Oak Park near Chicago, a town known for its many houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Were you aware of them early on and did this fact play a particular role in your interest in architecture?

James Wines: Even as a child, I was very aware of Wright as the generator of really “different” kinds of buildings. Subliminally, this exposure to a neighborhood of masterworks must have played a major role in shaping my aesthetic choices in life. I was born and lived in Oak Park until my first year of high school. My mother seemed to dislike Wright-designed houses and, since her aesthetic tastes were very much molded by middle-American conservatism, she actually felt that his houses had ruined the neighborhood. [Laughs.]

BEST Products Notch Building (1977). Image © SITE Competition entry for Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art (1983). Image © SITE Highway 86 at the 1986 World Expo in Vancouver. Image © SITE Antilia ‘Vertiscape” Tower proposal (2003). Image © SITE +47

Why Architecture Isn't Art (And Shouldn't Be)

10:30 - 8 March, 2016
Why Architecture Isn't Art (And Shouldn't Be), Biomuseo in Panama by Frank Gehry. Image © Fernando Alda
Biomuseo in Panama by Frank Gehry. Image © Fernando Alda

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about what architecture's ultimate purpose might be - with answers ranging from the creation of form to the correction of societal ills. But according to Lance Hosey, perhaps the least useful definition currently in circulation is that architecture is "art." In this article, originally posted to his blog on the Huffington Post, Hosey argues that the concept of architecture as a form of art is not only misleading to the public, but also potentially damaging to society.

In July, I wrote that when architects use the bodies of specific women such as Marilyn Monroe or Beyoncé as "inspiration" for buildings, they objectify both women and architecture. Many readers didn't like this: "Anyone complaining about where an artist gets thier [sic] inspiration dosn't [sic] understand what an artist or art is," protested one. "What's wrong with using the female form for artistic inspiration?" asked another; "I can think of nothing more beautiful." And another: "Music, Structures, Paintings, anything artistic is not degrading. It's beauty."

The message: Architecture is art, and where artists get their inspiration isn't up for debate, since it's personal to the artist.

What Should We Be Doing To Eliminate Gender Inequality in Architecture?

08:00 - 8 March, 2016
What Should We Be Doing To Eliminate Gender Inequality in Architecture?, Denise Scott Brown in Las Vegas in 1966. Image © Robert Venturi
Denise Scott Brown in Las Vegas in 1966. Image © Robert Venturi

In recent years, there has been a significant amount of attention paid to the gender debate in architecture, with many asking why, in the 21st century, our profession can still be such a challenging career path for women. In many ways, this focus on women in architecture has seemed successful: In 2014, Julia Morgan became the first woman awarded the AIA Gold Medal, and while Denise Scott-Brown may not have been retroactively awarded a Pritzker Prize, the AIA's decision to open up its Medal to more than one person at a time finally allowed her to join Julia Morgan on the (very short) list of female winners. Over in the UK, this year Zaha Hadid was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal, making her the first woman in history to receive the prize without sharing it with a male partner. Yet despite these apparent victories for equality in architecture, we still see headlines like the recent discovery by the AR's Women in Architecture Survey that gender disparities are, in fact, increasing.

Today, on International Women's Day, we wanted to open up a discussion among ArchDaily readers to see what else could be done. What more could architects, institutions and indeed even the media do to close the gender gap in our profession? Let us know in the comments below and the best responses will be featured in an upcoming article.

These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist "Solidarity" Movement

09:30 - 7 March, 2016
These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist "Solidarity" Movement

For nearly two millennia, European architecture was closely affiliated with and shaped by Christianity. Prior to the advent of Modernism, there was scarcely a style that was not promoted, or more likely defined, by the designs of churches. Such a hypothesis makes it difficult to imagine Medieval England outside the purview of Gothic Cathedrals, or Renaissance Italy as separate from its Basilicas. But with the Industrial Revolution and the economic and population growth that ensued, infrastructure and housing became the new symbols and necessities of cultural representation, finding their ultimate expression in the ease and simplicity of Modernism. The field of architecture, so long shaped and dominated by the church, had been subsumed by the changing concerns of a commercially driven society. Of course there were still churches being built, but the typology that once defined architecture in its ubiquity became novel and rare. Or so we’ve all been lead to believe.

Surprising as it might be, in the wake of World War II and under Soviet control, Poland built more churches than any other country in Europe. The majority were built in the 1980s, at a time when church construction was neither authorized nor forbidden, and as a result played a pronounced role in Cold War politics. The construction of these churches was a calculated affront to the proletariat-minded Modernism of the Soviets. In their project Architecture of the VII Day, Kuba Snopek, Iza Cichońska and Karolina Popera have sought to comprehensively document these Polish churches and the circumstances of their construction. Unique not only in how they defied the prefabrication and regularity of the Eastern Bloc, the churches were community-led endeavors that relied on local funding and input, long before these practices became buzzwords in 21st century architectural circles.

© Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko +78

Call for Submissions: Architecture-Themed Easter Egg Design

08:00 - 7 March, 2016
Call for Submissions: Architecture-Themed Easter Egg Design

We want to see your designs for an architecture Easter Egg! Download the design template below and illustrate/animate/build a small celebration of springtime. We'll be accepting entries until March 24, at 12:00 pm EST and we'll publish our favorites on March 25!

AD Readers Debate: Calatrava's WTC Hub, the AIA's Sustainability Role, and the Render as a Contract

12:00 - 6 March, 2016
AD Readers Debate: Calatrava's WTC Hub, the AIA's Sustainability Role, and the Render as a Contract, via WTC Progress
via WTC Progress

The past two weeks in architecture have provided plenty to talk about in thanks to some big news stories, such as the opening of Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and some hotly-debated articles, such as Lance Hosey’s critique of the AIA’s sustainability leadership. As a result, it’s been a busy couple of weeks in our comment section - read on to find out what ArchDaily readers had to say.

Rural Urban Framework Brings Urban Amenities to Ulaanbaatar's Tent Cities

09:30 - 5 March, 2016
Rural Urban Framework Brings Urban Amenities to Ulaanbaatar's Tent Cities, Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework
Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework

Home to vast geographic features like the Gobi Desert, Mongolia is not a country associated with its urban environment. But after economic reforms following the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the discovery of vast reserves of coal, gold and copper, a large portion of Mongolia’s historically nomadic society has recently begun to settle down, particularly in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, where nearly half of the country’s 3 million residents now live.

Unfortunately, the infrastructure of the city hasn’t yet had a chance to catch up to these rapid growth patterns, resulting in sprawling slum-like settlements consisting mainly of traditional felt tents - known as gers - encircling the city. Civic buildings throughout these neighborhoods are rare, and even travelling within the city is difficult due to the lack of official maps.

Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework +26

Jeanne Gang Named Architect of the Year in AR's 2016 Women in Architecture Awards

10:30 - 4 March, 2016
Jeanne Gang Named Architect of the Year in AR's 2016 Women in Architecture Awards, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership / Studio Gang. Image © Steve Hall for Hedrich Blessing
Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership / Studio Gang. Image © Steve Hall for Hedrich Blessing

The Architectural Review has announced the final winners in its 2016 Women in Architecture awards, awarding Mexican architect Gabriela Etchegaray with the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, and Jeanne Gang with the Architect of the Year award. In honoring Gang and Etchegaray, the AR noted that both "have demonstrated excellence in design and a commitment to working both sustainably and democratically with local communities." The pair join other Women in Architecture Award winners Odile Decq and Julia Peyton-Jones, who last week received the 2016 Jane Drew Prize and Ada Louise Huxtable Prize, respectively. Read on for more about the awards.

With the Opening of the WTC Transportation Hub, Has Santiago Calatrava Been Vindicated?

09:30 - 4 March, 2016
With the Opening of the WTC Transportation Hub, Has Santiago Calatrava Been Vindicated?, via WTC Progress
via WTC Progress

After 12 long years and a series of construction headaches, Santiago Calatrava’s $4 billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub has finally opened to the public. Once widely regarded as a symbol of hope for post-9/11 New York, the project’s ballooning budget and security-related revisions gradually soured the opinions of the public and top design minds including Michael Graves and Peter Eisenman, and provoked a multitude of mocking nicknames ranging from “Calatrasaurus” to “squat hedgehog” to “kitsch dinosaur.” All the while, Calatrava urged critics to reserve their opinion until the project’s opening. Now that day has arrived - did Calatrava receive the vindication he was insistent would come? Read on for the critics’ takes.

2016 Venice Biennale Will Begin a "Crusade Against Indifference"

14:15 - 3 March, 2016

Yesterday, and for the first time in La Biennale's history, the press tour included a stop in the Southern Hemisphere. From his home city of Santiago, Alejandro Aravena shared more details about the upcoming exhibition in Chile's presidential palace (La Moneda) alongside the president of the Biennale and the president of Chile. 

The main information to emerge from the press conference was the presentation of the lone image that represents this year's Biennale and the announcement of the participants. In the video above, Aravena gracefully explains how Bruce Chatwin's image of German archaeologist Maria Reiche encapsulates "the Biennale as a whole." 

Aravena stressed that he wanted the disclaimer for the exhibition to be the exact opposite of "Don't Try This At Home." He explained, "Given the complexity and variety of challenges that architecture has to respond to, 'Reporting from the Front' will be about listening to those that were able to gain some perspective and consequently are in the position to share some knowledge and experiences with those of us standing on the ground."

"Array of Things" is A Ray of Hope for Big-Data-Based Urban Design

09:30 - 3 March, 2016
"Array of Things" is A Ray of Hope for Big-Data-Based Urban Design, © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

For a number of years now, Smart Cities and Big Data have been heralded as the future of urban design, taking advantage of our connected, technological world to make informed decisions on urban design and policy. But how can we make sure that we're collecting the best data? In this story, originally published on Autodesk's Line//Shape//Space publication as "'Array' of Possibilities: Chicago’s New Wireless Sensor Networks to Create an Urban Internet of Things," Matt Alderton looks at a new initiative in Chicago to collect and publish data in a more comprehensive way than ever before.

If it hasn’t already, your daily routine will soon undergo a massive makeover.

For starters, when your alarm clock goes off, it will tell your coffeemaker to start brewing your morning joe. Then, when you’re on the way to work, your car will detect heavy traffic and send a text message to your boss, letting her know you’ll be late. When you arrive, you’ll print out the agenda for today’s staff meeting, at which point your printer will check how much ink it has left and automatically order its own replacement cartridges.

At lunch, you’ll think about dinner and use your smartphone to start the roast that’s waiting in your slow cooker at home. And when you come home a few hours later, your house will know you’re near, automatically turning on the lights, the heat, and the TV—channel changed to the evening news—prior to your arrival. It will be marvelous, and you’ll owe it all to the Internet of Things (IoT).

In Defense of Renders and Trees On Top of Skyscrapers

09:30 - 2 March, 2016
In Defense of Renders and Trees On Top of Skyscrapers, MVRDV's proposal for Ravel Plaza in Amsterdam. Image © A2 Studio
MVRDV's proposal for Ravel Plaza in Amsterdam. Image © A2 Studio

In a recent article on Vice (in Dutch) and on his research platform website Failed Architecture, architecture writer Mark Minkjan comments on the phenomenon of architectural renders, arguing that “digital visualizations and hollow sales pitches hide the ugly sides of architecture.” In the article, Minkjan takes MVRDV's proposal for Ravel Plaza in Amsterdam as a “case study” to discuss the misleading quality of the render. This criticism – of renders in general and MVRDV's renders specifically – is a returning point of critique: on ArchDaily in 2013, Tim De Chant begged in an opinion piece “Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers?” Though that article did not mention MVRDV in the text, our Peruri88 project in Jakarta was given the dubious distinction of being the article's most prominent image.

We'd like to discuss this common critique. The point of the role of visualizations in our communication is relevant but, even though we fully understand where the criticism comes from, arguments such as these are in our opinion not correct.

The proposed rooftop forest of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Art Depot was added to the design after testing its appearance with a render. Image © MVRDV The 5th-floor forest at MVRDV's EXPO 2000 Dutch pavilion, photographed during the expo in 2000. Image © Rob't Hart Peruri88 in Jakarta. Image © RSI-Studio The rooftop forest of the proposed Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Art Depot. Image © MVRDV +10

Cartography in the Metaverse: The Power of Mapping in Video Games

06:00 - 2 March, 2016
Cartography in the Metaverse: The Power of Mapping in Video Games, Interactive map in Civlization V (2010). Image © Firaxis Games
Interactive map in Civlization V (2010). Image © Firaxis Games

In this new collaboration, originally titled Cartografías del Metaverso (Cartography in the Metaverse), Spanish architects and founders of the blog MetaSpace, Enrique Parra and Manuel Saga, explore the potential of mapping in video games. Mapping can sometimes go beyond the mere role of orientation, as in the Diablo sequel, and become a very important element of the game, as in Civilization and World of Warcraft.

The cartographic and planimetric language of architecture is also common to the world of video games. Many video games base much of their experience on interaction with one or more maps, through which users orient themselves to find out where they are and where they are supposed to be.

One example is the Civilization saga, a series of empire management games created from 1991 to date. All versions are played on a map, a geographical view of the world that represents different areas, available resources, geopolitical balance, and other factors. These variants are the rules of the game, the situation the player faces; the map becomes a dynamic fabric, ie, the interface that makes up the game.

7 Examples of How to Show Off Interiors in Your 3D Models, As Selected by Sketchfab

10:00 - 1 March, 2016
7 Examples of How to Show Off Interiors in Your 3D Models, As Selected by Sketchfab

When making a 3D model, just as with a physical model, one of the biggest challenges is in effectively conveying the feeling of a design's interior. This is made worse by the fact that historically, 3D modeling and viewing software has treated the design being modeled as primarily an object to be orbited around, rather than as a space to be viewed from within. The introduction of first-person viewing modes has improved this, but these still are hampered by the fact that movement is never as simple or intuitive as simply walking around in real space. All of this can make presenting interior spaces a frustrating experience.

However, there are a variety of techniques you can use to display interiors more effectively. In the second of our Selected by Sketchfab series, our partners at Sketchfab have picked out the best examples of from their platform of models that inventively show off interior spaces.

BIG Designs Moshe Safdie-Inspired Habitat for Toronto

14:00 - 29 February, 2016
BIG Designs Moshe Safdie-Inspired Habitat for Toronto, Courtyard. Image © BIG
Courtyard. Image © BIG

BIG has unveiled plans for a new residential development on downtown Toronto's King Street West. A "ziggurat" designed to "create communities," as The Globe and Mail says, "Toronto 2.0" features two "pixilated" towers likened to Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67

When It Comes to Sustainable Design, Architects Still Don't Get It

09:30 - 29 February, 2016
When It Comes to Sustainable Design, Architects Still Don't Get It, Perkins + Will's Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, which won the RAIC's Green Building Award last year. Image © Martin Tessler
Perkins + Will's Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, which won the RAIC's Green Building Award last year. Image © Martin Tessler

In the face of global doomsday predictions, sustainability has become one of the most crucial aspects of the 21st century, now playing a huge role in everything from politics to the way you dispose of your trash. Fortunately, most architects understand sustainability implicitly, and have adopted it into their lives and work. Or have they? In this article, originally published on Common Edge as "Why Architects Don't Get It," green building expert Lance Hosey highlights the failures of the architecture community in reaching their stated sustainability goals, and argues for a new conception of architecture in which good design and sustainable design are integrated.

A few years ago, the American Institute of Architects, the self-declared “voice of the architecture profession,” announced that "AIA members will no longer need to complete the sustainable design requirement to fulfill their AIA continuing education." Why? Because “sustainable design practices have become a mainstream design intention.” Hooray! If sustainability is “mainstream” now, and knowledge about it is no longer necessary “to maintain competency” and “to advance and improve the profession”—the purpose of continuing education, according to the AIA—then the profession must have met its environmental goals, and there’s nothing left to improve. Mission accomplished.

If only.

Answering 5 FAQs About VR in Architecture

11:00 - 28 February, 2016
Answering 5 FAQs About VR in Architecture, Courtesy of Mi5VR
Courtesy of Mi5VR

There's no question that virtual reality has the potential to change architecture. But as with all new technologies, it can be difficult to understand at first. In this article originally published on his LinkedIn page, Kym Porter answers five commonly-asked questions about VR in architecture.