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Barack Obama Presidential Center Selects Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

13:26 - 30 June, 2016
Barack Obama Presidential Center Selects Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, Previous work by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture. Images © Michael Moran, Norman McGrath and Tom Rossiter
Previous work by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture. Images © Michael Moran, Norman McGrath and Tom Rossiter

The Obama Foundation has selected Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA) with partner Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) to lead the design of the Obama Presidential Center for Chicago's South Side. Chosen from a shortlist including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, John Ronan Architects, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, SHoP Architects, Snøhetta and Adjaye Associates, TWBTA stood out for their “commitment to explore the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges.”

AD Classics: Parish of the Holy Sacrifice / Leandro V. Locsin

04:00 - 30 June, 2016
AD Classics: Parish of the Holy Sacrifice / Leandro V. Locsin, Courtesy of Wikimedia user Allan Jay Quesada
Courtesy of Wikimedia user Allan Jay Quesada

Once dubbed a “flying saucer,” the Parish (Church) of the Holy Sacrifice is a Modernist expression which embodies the complex colonial history of the Philippines. Located on a university campus in Quezon City (formerly the capital of the nation, now a part of the Metro Manila National Capital Region), the domed concrete church was the product of Filipino architect Leandro Locsin, and of three other national artists who contributed to the building’s interior.[1] Locsin’s design, which combines elements of traditional Filipino architecture with postwar International aesthetics, is a potent symbol of a newly-independent nation following centuries of imperial control.

Courtesy of Wikimedia user Ramon FVelasquez Courtesy of Wikimedia user Ramon FVelasquez Courtesy of Wikimedia user Ramon FVelasquez Courtesy of Wikimedia user Ramon FVelasquez +7

Material Focus: The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli

10:00 - 29 June, 2016
Material Focus: The Great Wall of WA by Luigi Rosselli ,  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch
The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch

This article is part of our new "Material Focus" series, which asks architects to elaborate on the thought process behind their material choices and sheds light on the steps required to get buildings actually built.

The Great Wall of WA, designed by the Australian firm Luigi Rosselli Architects, and selected as one of Archdaily’s Best Building of the Year 2016, provides a unique example of rammed earth construction. At 230 meters in length, the Great Wall of WA is the longest structure of its kind in Australia and possibly the South Hemisphere, according to its architects. Built in remote North Western Australia, the building is made from locally available materials whose thermal properties help it to endure a variable climate. We spoke with the architect Luigi Rosselli to learn more about his compelling choice of material and the determining role it played in his concept design.

 The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch  The Great Wall of WA / Luigi Rosselli. Image © Edward Birch +13

Inside Las Pozas, Edward James' Surrealist Garden in the Mexican Jungle

08:00 - 29 June, 2016
Inside Las Pozas, Edward James' Surrealist Garden in the Mexican Jungle  , © Victor Delaqua
© Victor Delaqua

Edward James, one of the most eccentric and interesting twentieth-century collectors of surrealist art, arrived in Xilitla, Mexico at the end of the 1940's. The British writer was captivated by the splendor of the landscape of "Las Pozas" (The Wells), where he created a fantastic home, which includes a unique sculptural space unlike any other in the world.

Surrealism, whose sources of creation are found in dreams and the subconscious, in theory, could never be used to build things in real life. Edward James - described by Salvador Dalí as "crazier than all the Surrealists together" - designed a sculpture garden that defies any architectural label and allows a glimpse of something new, moving between fantasy and reality.

Columns with capitals that look like giant flowers, gothic arches, dramatic gates, pavilions with undetermined levels and spiral staircases that end abruptly in mid-air, as if they were an invitation to the horizon. In short, Edward James made concrete flourish along the lush flora and fauna of Xilitla, making surrealist architecture possible.

Learn more below.

© Julia Faveri © Julia Faveri © Julia Faveri © Victor Delaqua +22

Round-Up: The Serpentine Pavilion Through the Years

10:30 - 28 June, 2016
Round-Up: The Serpentine Pavilion Through the Years

Lasting for close to two decades now, the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Exhibition has become one of the most anticipated architectural events in London and for the global architecture community. With this year’s edition featuring not just one pavilion but four additional “summer houses,” the program shows no sign of slowing down. Each of the previous sixteen pavilions have been thought-provoking, leaving an indelible mark and strong message to the architectural community. And even though each of the past pavilions are removed from the site after their short summer stints to occupy far-flung private estates, they continue to be shared through photographs, and in architectural lectures. With the launch of the 16th Pavilion this month, we take a look back at all the previous pavilions and their significance to the architecturally-minded public. 

Serpentine Pavilion 2013. Image © Neil MacWilliams Serpentine Pavilion 2000. Image © Hélène Binet Serpentine Pavilion 2006. Image © John Offenbach Serpentine Pavilion 2015. Image © © Iwan Baan +34

Between Generic Interventions and Architecture of Relations: A Journey Through Coastal Japan

04:00 - 28 June, 2016
Between Generic Interventions and Architecture of Relations: A Journey Through Coastal Japan, Tetra Pod / Omoe Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. Image © Max Creasy
Tetra Pod / Omoe Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. Image © Max Creasy

In this article, written by Christian Dimmer and illustrated with photographs by Max Creasy, the post-earthquake and tsunami coastal architectural landscape of the Japanese Prefectures of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi are presented and studied.

Few disasters were as complex and their implications as hard to grasp as the compound calamity of earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown that hit the North-East of Japan on March 11, 2011. While over 500 kilometers of coastline were devastated, the disaster unfolded in each of the hundreds of towns affected differently depending on local topographies, urban morphologies, existing landscape formations, collective memory of past disasters and preparedness, and the social ties within the communities.

Ritsumeikan University / Munemoto Lab + Shinsaku Munemoto Architects & Associates. Community and meeting space for adjacent temporary housing units, designed and built by Ritsumeikan University student volunteers and members of the local community. Image © Max Creasy N Village / Zai Shirakawa Architects. Otsuchicho Namiita Coast. Image © Max Creasy Interior: Ritsumeikan University Munemoto Lab  + Shinsaku Munemoto Architects & Associates. Image © Max Creasy Irony Stations, MotoYoshiChoo (Miyagi Prefecture) / Hirokazu Tohki, Shiga University. New, highly designed filling station that replaces a more simple facility. In addition, the building will function as a roadside market and community shop. Image © Max Creasy +19

Critical Round-Up: Did Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale Achieve its Lofty Goals?

10:30 - 27 June, 2016
Critical Round-Up: Did Aravena's 2016 Venice Biennale Achieve its Lofty Goals?, The "Reporting the Front" exhibition/ curated by Alejandro Aravena at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
The "Reporting the Front" exhibition/ curated by Alejandro Aravena at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

The XV International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale opened its doors last month. Under the directorship of Chilean Pritzker Prize-winner Alejandro Aravena, “Reporting the front” asked architects to go beyond “business as usual” and investigate concealed built environments – conflict zones and urban slums, as well as locations suffering from housing shortage, migrations and environmental disasters. Clearly, the aim of this Biennale is to open the profession to new fields of engagement and share knowledge on how to improve people’s quality of life.

Video: Ascend the Ziggurat in the Nordic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 27 June, 2016

In this film, Jesús Granada visits the Nordic Pavilion, “In Therapy”, at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The video presents a series of measured stills in 4K resolution which introduce the central installation of the exhibition—a stepped pyramid, or ziggurat—and its series of reflective "rooms without walls." The pavilion itself, which was completed in 1969, was designed by Sverre Fehn to partially reflect and concretize certain ideas about Nordic society and its architecture – including a sense of openness. This year, therefore, the pavilion has been orchestrated as an extension of the public space of the Giardini.

Critical Round-Up: Herzog & de Meuron's Tate Modern Switch House

11:20 - 24 June, 2016
Critical Round-Up: Herzog & de Meuron's Tate Modern Switch House,  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan
Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan

London's Tate Modern just got bigger. Last week, the well-known modern art museum opened its new extension to the public. The so-called “Switch House” was designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the same firm that designed the successful rehabilitation of the original Giles Gilbert Scott’s Bankside Power Station in 2000.

The museum could not be more satisfied: “It’s a dream,” says Tate Modern’s new director Frances Morris, “We’ve never had such an open space before. The possibilities are endless.” While critics generally approved of the design, they expressed mixed feelings for the addition’s materiality and urban character. Read on to find out more about the views of Frieze Magazine’s Douglas Murphy, The Evening Standard’s Robert Bevan, The Guardian’s Rowan Moore, and The Financial Times’ Edwin Heathcote.

 Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan  Tate Modern Switch House / Herzog & de Meuron . Image © Iwan Baan +8

A Virtual Look Into Beverley David Thorne's Case Study House #26

10:30 - 23 June, 2016
A Virtual Look Into Beverley David Thorne's Case Study House #26, © Kathi Elliott
© Kathi Elliott

The biggest surprise in this Archilogic model is the spectrum of color. Anyone who has visited the Case Study House 26 in San Rafael, California during the last 40 years would be familiar with the building’s classic all-white steel frame look, but the architect, Beverley David Thorne, had originally picked a very different color scheme: “Dull Gold”  for the steel, saffron and other more vivid colors for the interiors. “The choice of exterior colors,” wrote Thorne in Arts & Architecture magazine, “was dictated by the climate and the character of the surrounding landscape.” This Archilogic model recreates the original 1963 conditions, down to the bedroom wall and tile colors.

It’s All in a Cup of Coffee (or, Indeed, Tea): Does Café Culture Embody the Idea of Europe?

04:45 - 23 June, 2016
It’s All in a Cup of Coffee (or, Indeed, Tea): Does Café Culture Embody the Idea of Europe?, Da Florian in Venice (2013). © Gianni Berengo Gardin. Image Courtesy of Caffe Florian
Da Florian in Venice (2013). © Gianni Berengo Gardin. Image Courtesy of Caffe Florian

Update: On June 24, 2016, 52% of eligible voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. This article was published prior to the referendum announcement.

In 2003 George Steiner—a Paris-born, American, UK-based literary critic, philosopher and essayist—gave a lecture in Tilburg, a small Dutch city on the Belgian border. His talk, which he titled “The Idea of Europe,” made some waves in certain circles but, ultimately, wasn't widely discussed. Years later I found a copy of the transcript in Amsterdam’s Athenaeum[1], who had tucked it in the corner of a sunken room on a shelf devoted to "Brexit." I read it the following day while on a train to Brussels.

As I trundled across the Flemish hinterland Steiner’s words, delivered with judicious insight and a reassuring cautionary edge, served as a reminder of one irrevocable fact: that Europe is a continent “of linguistic, cultural, [and] social diversity;” a “mosaic”[2] of communities that have never been united with the same scale and ambition as that of the European Union. But before the contemporary Euro-project, came European café culture.

Quadratura Circuli Aim to Revive Russian Religious Architecture with Cultural Center in Reykjavik

10:30 - 22 June, 2016
Quadratura Circuli Aim to Revive Russian Religious Architecture with Cultural Center in Reykjavik, Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli
Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli

Religious architecture in Russia, arguably, remains backward-looking. With the Soviet Union’s anti-religious stance in the 20th century, religious architecture found little opportunity to grow. Russian architect, Philip Yakubchuk argues that only recently has religious Russian architecture begun “learning to walk again” as it discovers its once-rich history. Quadratura Circuli, a trio of young Russian designers Daniil Makarov, Ivan Zemlyakov, and Yakubchuk, are eager to move beyond the image of St Basil’s Cathedral—seeking to revitalize and create a new image of Russian religious architecture for the 21st century.

The group’s Latin name translates to “Squaring the Circle” which is a metaphor used to describe a task that is believed to be impossible—a striking name for a group dedicated entirely to “designing temples for the people of today.” However, with their proposal for a Russian Orthodox Cultural Center in Reykjavik, Iceland, Cuadratura Circuli demonstrates that it is not impossible to link the art of the past and the culture of the present.

Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli Courtesy of Cuadratura Circuli +10

A Soviet Utopia: Constructivism in Yekaterinburg

04:00 - 22 June, 2016
A Soviet Utopia: Constructivism in Yekaterinburg, Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov
Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov

Developed early on in the Soviet era, and fully subordinate to Soviet ideology, the Constructivist movement was intended to form the foundations of a brave new world. The introduction of the Five-Year Plans coincided with the time when Constructivism was adopted as the official architectural style in the USSR. These circumstances allowed many architects to implement daring projects across the entire Soviet Union, and the Urals became one of the biggest magnets.

In this article—written by Sasha Zagryazhsky, translated by Philipp Kachalin and with photographs by Fyodor Telkov—you can take a virtual tour of fourteen of Yekaterinburg's most significant Soviet Constructivist buildings.

Soyuzkhleb (1928-1929). Image © Fyodor Telkov General Post Office (1929-1934). Image © Fyodor Telkov Uraloblsovnarkhoz Dormitory (1930-1933). Image © Fyodor Telkov Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov +17

Video: Reiulf Ramstad Explains "The Nordic Way of Building"

10:00 - 21 June, 2016

“We believe that architecture makes sense when it’s anchored in the locales where it’s built, and the people who are going to use it. That’s why I’m not so occupied with the zeitgeist of architecture.”

In this interview from Louisiana Channel, Oslo-based architect Reiulf Ramstad discusses how the Scandinavian landscape is at the core of his design concepts. In a context of globalization, increased mobility, and communication medias, Ramstad believes “the depth of the locale becomes shallow.” His architecture contrasts this mainstream approach by offering designs specifically tailored to Norwegian cultural heritage and the landscape of its remote areas.

Ulterior Motives: OMA/AMO's Reinier de Graaf on "Research," Europe and the 2014 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 21 June, 2016
Ulterior Motives: OMA/AMO's Reinier de Graaf on "Research," Europe and the 2014 Venice Biennale, Installation in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini at the 2014 Venice Biennale, directed by OMA/AMO. Image Courtesy of OMA
Installation in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini at the 2014 Venice Biennale, directed by OMA/AMO. Image Courtesy of OMA

The following interview with Reinier De Graaf was first published by Volume Magazine in their 48th issue, The Research Turn. You can read the Editorial of this issue, Research Horizonshere.

Architectural practice requires a degree of intimacy and insight into complex sets of forces. While building is architecture’s bread and butter, it’s not always the best format to make a statement. It’s sometimes not even the most appropriate language to respond to a brief. Volume spoke with Reinier de Graaf of OMA/AMO about how research and media can become a vessel for political agendas.

A Filmic Adaption of Ballard's High-Rise Is a Visceral Complement to a Dystopian Vision

09:30 - 20 June, 2016
A Filmic Adaption of Ballard's High-Rise Is a Visceral Complement to a Dystopian Vision, The Brutalist high-rises in Ben Wheatley’s new film were inspired in part by Ernö Goldfinger’s Trellick and Balfron towers in London. Image Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
The Brutalist high-rises in Ben Wheatley’s new film were inspired in part by Ernö Goldfinger’s Trellick and Balfron towers in London. Image Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

This article was originally published on Metropolis Magazine as “Dystopia in the Sky."

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.

The Floating Piers Opens on Lake Iseo Allowing Visitors to "Walk on Water"

08:15 - 19 June, 2016
The Floating Piers Opens on Lake Iseo Allowing Visitors to "Walk on Water", © Christo
© Christo

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.

The docks extend into the streets of nearby towns. Image © Christo © Christo The docks extend into the streets of nearby towns. Image © Christo © Christo +12

Why Boredom is the Key to Good Design

09:30 - 17 June, 2016
Why Boredom is the Key to Good Design, © Flickr user nseika licensed under CC BY 2.0 (cropped)
© Flickr user nseika licensed under CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

This article by Rosanne Somerson, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "We Need More Boredom in Our Lives."

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.