5 Ways Architects Are Redefining Craftsmanship For a Postdigital Age

09:30 - 11 February, 2016
5 Ways Architects Are Redefining Craftsmanship For a Postdigital Age, La Voûte de LeFevre sculpture. Image Courtesy of Matter Design
La Voûte de LeFevre sculpture. Image Courtesy of Matter Design

Craftsmanship is one of those topics which it seems almost everyone has a strong opinion. But while many lament the fact that traditional craft practices have been in decline since the industrial revolution, today a new generation of architects and designers have set about redefining and updating the notion of craft to include the most modern design and fabrication techniques around. In this article, originally published on Autodesk's Line//Shape//Space publication as "5 Ways Architects and Postdigital Artisans Are Modernizing Craftsmanship," Jeff Link explores some of the traits that connect these pioneers to the craftsmen and women of a bygone era.

Craftsmanship in the digital age is hard to define. For some, craftsmanship evokes a purity of style, a preference for the handmade over the machine. For others, it recalls the Craftsman architecture of early-20th-century homes: overhung gabled rooflines, wide sheltered porches, detailed handiwork, and an ineffable Norman Rockwell sense of bygone Americana.

But regardless of one’s intuitive understanding of the term, the notion of craftmanship is evolving. Increasingly, the age-old knowledge of woodcarvers, masons, and other craftspeople is embedded in an intelligent design process using geometric computer models and machine fabrication to develop new crafts and architectural métiers—from gravity-defying furniture assemblies to complex workflows for robotic automatons. These innovations have helped place architects alongside craftsmen at the center of a revival in “maker” culture, which, for example, is in vivid display in handmade marketplaces such as Folksy and Etsy.

So what exactly is digital craft? And what does it look like in the work of top designers? Here, innovative architects identify five things postdigital artisans are doing to transform craftsmanship.

The State of Architecture in India: An Interview with Rahul Mehrotra, Ranjit Hoskote, and Kaiwan Mehta

09:30 - 10 February, 2016
The State of Architecture in India: An Interview with Rahul Mehrotra, Ranjit Hoskote, and Kaiwan Mehta, Ranjit Hoskote, Rahul Mehrotra and Kaiwan Mehta during a working session. Image Courtesy of  Suresh KK (mid-day, a Jagran Group Publication)
Ranjit Hoskote, Rahul Mehrotra and Kaiwan Mehta during a working session. Image Courtesy of Suresh KK (mid-day, a Jagran Group Publication)

Today, the rapidly-developing country of India is one of the key places in the world where architecture could have the most impact; in spite of this, there has been little critical reflection on the country's architectural landscape, and architecture has struggled to assert its value to the wider population. Currently, the country's first major architectural exhibition in 30 years is taking place in Mumbai, curated by Rahul Mehrotra, Ranjit Hoskote, and Kaiwan Mehta and running until March 20th. In this interview, a shortened version of which was first published in Domus India's December Issue, Mustansir Dalvir sits down with the curators to discuss their exhibition and the past and present of Indian Architecture.

Looking back to the time architectural practices first began to proliferate in India, one sees that they always operated within an ecosystem of practice, academia, and association. We can trace this to the 1930s, when the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) was set up, which in turn emerged from the alumni of the Bombay School of Art. Teachers at the school were the most prolific practitioners in the country, and students made the easy transition from learning to apprenticeship, to setting up their own practices. Even patrons, largely non-state (in the penultimate decades before independence) aligned themselves with the architects in a collegial association. The Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects and their annual lectures became the mouthpieces of collective praxis, as the many presidential speeches show. Everyone knew what everyone else was doing, knowledge flowed centripetally.

In the years after independence, these bonds became looser as the nation-state became the chief patron. While private wealth and industry provided steady work for architects all over the country, the IIA still continued to remain the platform of discourse and dissemination – an internal professional rumination, largely distanced from changing politics and culture in the country, especially from the seventies onwards. While students of architecture did briefly take political stances during the Emergency, practice remained unaffected.

BIG to Design 2016 Serpentine Pavilion While Four New 'Summer House' Architects are Announced

06:22 - 10 February, 2016
BIG to Design 2016 Serpentine Pavilion While Four New 'Summer House' Architects are Announced, The Mountain, Copenhagen / BIG. Image Courtesy of Serpentine Galleries
The Mountain, Copenhagen / BIG. Image Courtesy of Serpentine Galleries

The Serpentine Galleries have revealed that the 2016 Serpentine Pavilion will be designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), alongside a surprise announcement that four "Summer Houses" will also be built by internationally acclaimed practices. Kunlé Adeyemi – NLÉ (Amsterdam/Lagos), Barkow Leibinger (Berlin/New York), Yona Friedman (Paris), and Asif Khan (London) will each design a 25sqm structure inspired by the nearby Queen Caroline’s Temple, a neo-Classical summer house built in 1734 and "a stone’s throw from the Serpentine Gallery." In line with the criteria for the selection of the Serpentine Pavilion architect, each chosen to design a Summer House has yet to realise a permanent building in England.

Winners of the 2016 Building of the Year Awards

11:20 - 9 February, 2016

After two weeks of nominations and voting, we are pleased to present the winners of the 2016 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards. As a peer-based, crowdsourced architecture award, the results shown here represent the collective intelligence of 55,000 voters, filtering the best architecture from over 3,000 projects featured on ArchDaily during the past year.

As is so often the case with the Building of the Year award, the list of winners represents great diversity. It features two Pritzker Prize winners, Renzo Piano and Herzog & de Meuron (the first practice to ever receive two Building of the Year awards in the same year), but also small, young practices such as Tim Greatrex and Elisabete de Oliveira Saldanha. The buildings which garnered these prizes also range in effect: from the tremendous poise demonstrated by projects such as NAP Architects' Ribbon Chapel and MAD's Harbin Opera House to the rustic charms of Terra e Tuma Arquitetos' Vila Matilde House or Sharon Davis Design's Partners In Health Dormitory.

By publishing them on ArchDaily, these exemplary buildings have helped us to impart inspiration and knowledge to architects around the world, furthering our mission. So to everyone who participated by either nominating or voting for a shortlisted project, thank you for being a part of this amazing process, where the voices of architects from all over the world unite to form one strong, intelligent, forward-thinking message.

And of course, congratulations to all the winners!

8 Beautiful Historic Buildings In 3D Models, As Selected by Sketchfab

10:00 - 9 February, 2016
8 Beautiful Historic Buildings In 3D Models, As Selected by Sketchfab

At ArchDaily, we've said before how sharing 3D models online has the potential to change architecture for the better, allowing viewers to explore a design for themselves rather than being presented only the most flattering views via photographs. At the forefront of this 3D-sharing revolution is Sketchfab, a platform which allows users to upload their model and view it directly in their browser.

In this new series, ArchDaily is joining forces with with Sketchfab, to present the best architectural models featured on their platform, as selected by staff members at Sketchfab. In this first installment, we're taking a look at some of the best scans of historical buildings - and don't forget, all of these models can be viewed in virtual reality for the maximum architectural experience!

BIG to Extend High Line Vertically with Spiral Tower

12:00 - 8 February, 2016
BIG to Extend High Line Vertically with Spiral Tower, © Tishman Speyer
© Tishman Speyer

Developer Tishman Speyer has commissioned BIG to design a new office tower on the northern end of the High Line at Hudson Yards in New York City. Dubbed "The Spiral," the 1005-foot-tall tower is named after its defining feature - an "ascending ribbon of lively green spaces" that extend the High Line "to the sky," says Bjarke Ingels. 

"The Spiral combines the classic Ziggurat silhouette of the premodern skyscraper with the slender proportions and efficient layouts of the modern high-rise," adds Ingels. "Designed for the people that occupy it, The Spiral ensures that every floor of the tower opens up to the outdoors creating hanging gardens and cascading atria that connect the open floor plates from the ground floor to the summit into a single uninterrupted work space. The string of terraces wrapping around the building expand the daily life of the tenants to the outside air and light.”

Architect + Entrepreneur (Volume 2): How to Stabilize Your Revenue Streams With "Passive Income"

09:30 - 8 February, 2016
Architect + Entrepreneur (Volume 2): How to Stabilize Your Revenue Streams With "Passive Income", Courtesy of Eric Reinholdt
Courtesy of Eric Reinholdt

In “Architect + Entrepreneur Volume Two”, we follow along as architect Eric Reinholdt scales his business, continuing the narrative begun in volume 1 and applying an entrepreneurial mindset to every facet of his work. The book chronicles his experiments  failures and successes  as he reinvents his architectural practice.

The primary innovation is a focus on passive income producing products and it involves a simple shift supplementing the standard consulting arrangement – hours traded for revenues earned – with an architecture-as-product revenue model. We discover how products, especially digital products, are nearly infinitely scalable. As compared with the limits of time, which govern the standard consulting arrangement, passive-income-generating products reinforce the brand message and create more freedom for the business owner.

Rather than wholly rejecting the individualized, high-touch service side of the business in favor of products, the book demonstrates how a line of products can actually nourish the consulting arm with only those clients best suited for the brand, while producing enough residual income to fully fund the practice.

The following is an excerpt from chapter 2, “A New Hope Model.”

AD Readers Debate: #YoIsMore, NCARB Scraps "Intern," and More

10:30 - 7 February, 2016
AD Readers Debate: #YoIsMore, NCARB Scraps "Intern," and More

In the past two weeks, the topics of discussion in the ArchDaily comments section have been incredibly diverse: from a debate over a light-hearted approach to getting the architectural job of your dreams, to a serious argument over the exploitation of young workers in the industry; and from criticism of a Zaha-like “melted yellow cheese” design to a favorable analysis of an intellectual postmodernist landmark. Read on to find out what our readers had to say.

Lacaton & Vassal and KieranTimberlake Named Among Metropolis Magazine's 2016 “Game Changers”

09:30 - 6 February, 2016
Lacaton & Vassal and KieranTimberlake Named Among Metropolis Magazine's 2016 “Game Changers”

Metropolis has released their list of five design thinkers leading the world in innovation for their 2016 Game Changers issue. The Metropolis Game Changers issue was created in 2011 to showcase transformational changes that are national in scope, but global in impact, and can be awarded to individuals, firms, projects or ideas within the various spheres of design. Past nominees from the realm of architecture include Michael Maltzan, MASS Design Group, Edward Mazria, Vincent Scully, SOM’s Great Lake Century Project, and former SHoP Principal Vishaan Chakrabarti.

With two architectural firms, an architecture curator and a co-working space driving urban renewal all making the five-strong list, this year's Game Changers issue offers plenty of interest for architectural readers.

6 Firms Highlighted as New York's "Promising" New Practices

12:30 - 5 February, 2016
6 Firms Highlighted as New York's "Promising" New Practices, Zone 14 Canopy / Taller KEN. Image © Andres Asturias
Zone 14 Canopy / Taller KEN. Image © Andres Asturias

The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter has named six firms as the recipients of its New Practices New York 2016 award. Under this year's theme of "Prospect," the winners were selected for having "leveraged multiple aspects of the architecture profession, utilizing unique and innovative strategies, both in the projects and the practices they have started." 

The six "promising and pioneering firms" are...

How Minecraft is Inspiring the Next Generation of Young Architects

09:30 - 5 February, 2016
How Minecraft is Inspiring the Next Generation of Young Architects, Courtesy of BlockWorks
Courtesy of BlockWorks

For many architects, an obsession with design came at a very young age - often, an architectural career begins with toys such as wooden blocks or that old classic, LEGO. In recent years though, a new contender has emerged to inspire young architectural minds: Minecraft. In this article, originally published on Autodesk's Line//Shape//Space publication as "Minecraft Architecture: What Architects Can Learn From a Video Game," Kim A O'Connell looks into the growing influence of Minecraft in architectural design and education, including the growing presence of the global "Blockworks" team.

Since it burst onto the gaming scene in 2009, Minecraft has become one of the world’s most popular video games—so much so that Microsoft bought the game and its parent company for a whopping $2.5 billion in 2014.

Today, the world-building platform has also garnered the attention of architects and designers. Could a video game actually change the way architecture is taught and practiced?

Built as an entry to the Planet Minecraft “Industrial Revolution” competition, the BlockWorks team was able to show their work process in the form of a Minecraft build. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks Built for the Planet Minecraft “Underwater Wonderland Contest,” the Faberzhe Palace blends fantasy and Slavic architectural styles. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks A Neverland-themed build. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks Asked by the Guardian newspaper “to build a modern vision of urban living in a clean and sustainable city in Minecraft,” BlockWorks created Climate Hope City using existing green technologies and prototypes for a sustainable design that is also achievable. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks +6

These "Spite Houses" Are the Ultimate Lesson in How to Hate Your Neighbors

09:30 - 4 February, 2016
These "Spite Houses" Are the Ultimate Lesson in How to Hate Your Neighbors

There are many good reasons to build a house: shelter, economics, or self-expression. But spite? In this article, originally published on Curbed as "Spite Houses: 12 Homes Created With Anger and Angst," Patrick Sisson delves into the "small but ignoble tradition" of people who constructed houses to enrage their neighbors, family members or the authorities.

What's not to love about a building called a "spite house?" In an essay in the New York Times, writer Kate Bolick discusses her dream of owning the Plum Island Pink House, a forlorn, decaying structure in Newbury, Massachusetts set in the middle of a salt marsh. The romantic, reclusive home stands alone for a reason; built by a recently divorced husband for his ex-wife as a condition of their separation, it's an exact duplicate of their shared home, just uncomfortably moored in the middle of remote wetlands and constructed without any running fresh water. The square loner is part of a small but ignoble tradition of spite houses, buildings created for malice instead of comfort meant to irritate or enrage neighbors, or occasionally piss off anyone unfortunate enough to be dwelling inside. Normally built to block a neighbor's light or access, they can be found as early at the 18th century. Here are some examples of homes or apartment that were built, or painted, out of anger.

The Story Behind The Most Creative Job Application We've Ever Seen

07:00 - 4 February, 2016

We've all been there: it's time to write a cover letter to apply for the job you've always dreamed of, but all that you can seem to muster are tired phrases and generic expressions. Well, in walks Étienne Duval to put us all to shame. Duval, a 30-year old architect, wanted to work at BIG, with "Yes is More"-man Bjarke Ingels. And what kind of cover letter did Étienne write? A rap... with an accompanying video. It's witty, well-done and (in our humble opinion) a perfect fit for BIG. 

After the video made the rounds here at ArchDaily, we had some burning questions for Étienne. Check out the video, which has racked up over 20,000 views, and the short interview below. 

ArchDaily: What inspired you to create a video for your application?

Finnish Architects Win Competition to Connect Two Alvar Aalto Museums

12:00 - 3 February, 2016
Finnish Architects Win Competition to Connect Two Alvar Aalto Museums, Silmu. Image © Sini Rahikainen, Hannele Cederström, Inka Norros, Kirsti Paloheimo, Maria Kleimola
Silmu. Image © Sini Rahikainen, Hannele Cederström, Inka Norros, Kirsti Paloheimo, Maria Kleimola

A group of young Finnish architects - Sini Rahikainen, Hannele Cederström, Inka Norros, Kirsti Paloheimo, Maria Kleimola - has won an open competition seeking ideas to "connect and integrate" two Alvar Aalto masterpieces - the Alvar Aalto museum and the Museum of Central Finland in Jyväskylä's Ruusupuisto park. With their entry, "Silmu," the winning team was selected over 689 other entries for creating a sensible proposal that met the competitions main goal - "to adapt to its worthy environment in a balanced way, and to find a natural connection with the architecture of Alvar Aalto."

“The high-end entries stand out from the rest with their clear, striking ideas and formal properties. The best things about Silmu were its atmosphere and the subtle contours. It was also seen as adding an extra, tranquil element between the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Museum of Central Finland, while further increasing the functionality of the outdoor spaces,” says Director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation Tommi Lindh.

Finding a Place in History: Joseph Weishaar on His Winning WWI Memorial Design

09:30 - 3 February, 2016
Finding a Place in History: Joseph Weishaar on His Winning WWI Memorial Design, Courtesy of The World War I Centennial Commission
Courtesy of The World War I Centennial Commission

Last week, the World War I Centennial Commission announced architect Joseph Weishaar and sculptor Sabin Howard as the winners of the WWI Memorial Competition held to redesign Washington, DC’s Pershing Park for the 100th anniversary of the conflict. For Weishaar, a 25-year-old project architect at Chicago firm Brininstool + Lynch, the key to the design was to integrate elements of both a park and a memorial into a cohesive whole; his design, "The Weight of Sacrifice," incorporates a raised lawn surrounded on three sides by memorial walls with sculptures designed by Howard. ArchDaily was given the opportunity to sit down with Weishaar to learn more about his winning memorial design, his response to the park’s critique, and what the future could hold for the young architect.

Courtesy of The World War I Centennial Commission Courtesy of The World War I Centennial Commission Courtesy of The World War I Centennial Commission Courtesy of The World War I Centennial Commission +15

BIG Designs Bronx Station for New York Police Department

12:12 - 2 February, 2016
BIG Designs Bronx Station for New York Police Department, © BIG
© BIG

The New York City Department of Design and Construction has commissioned BIG to design its new 40th Precinct Police Station in the Bronx's Melrose neighborhood. The first station to house a public multi-purpose room, the building aims to strengthen the department's relationship with the community, while reducing officer stress. 

"The 40th Precinct will also house a brand new piece of city program: the first ever community meeting room in a precinct. With its own street-level entrance, the multipurpose space will contain information kiosks and areas to hold classes or events, encouraging civic engagement with the precinct," says the architects. 

VR Architecture: Why the Next Design Frontier Will Be in Virtual Spaces

09:30 - 2 February, 2016
VR Architecture: Why the Next Design Frontier Will Be in Virtual Spaces, Virtual Museum. Image Courtesy of Mi5VR
Virtual Museum. Image Courtesy of Mi5VR

The new digital state of mind has affected almost every industry as we know it, from music to health. Meanwhile, architecture remains unaltered, trapped in its physical container. In our opinion Virtual Reality has come to stay, and it will transform the way we relate to spaces forever.

With "Ordos – A Failed Utopia," Raphael Olivier Captures the Contradictions of Chinese Construction

09:30 - 1 February, 2016
With "Ordos – A Failed Utopia," Raphael Olivier Captures the Contradictions of Chinese Construction, © Raphael Olivier
© Raphael Olivier

For the past quarter century, China’s rapidly expanding economy provided architects with an almost endless supply of building opportunities. Easy lending allowed for an exponential rise in infrastructure projects – China used more concrete in three years than the United States used in the entire twentieth century. But in a country where the number of cities with over a million inhabitants jumped from 16 in 1970 to 106 in 2015, the speed of development enabled high profile, but flawed, experiments alongside the many necessary building projects. There is perhaps no better example of this phenomenon than the city of Ordos. The Inner Mongolian metropolis – home to 100,000 – which sprang from the northern desert in the mid-2000s was designed for over a million inhabitants. The reality of the city came to public attention in 2009 when Al Jazeera wrote about an early uncertainty in the Chinese real estate market.

After living in China for a number of years, photographer Raphael Olivier finally gave in to the nagging urge to see Ordos for himself. Visiting last year, he found a well-maintained city that is still largely uninhabited. I interviewed Olivier about the project, his views on Ordos, Chinese prosperity, and what it means to photograph architecture.