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Bart Lootsma on Innsbruck, City Branding and "Geographical Urbanism"

In the now-globalized battle to attract tourists and retain citizens, cities have had to get increasingly creative, often branding themselves to highlight their unique histories or most striking physical characteristics. However, this branding rarely takes account of the complexities underlying every city: the people that live there, the political background, and of course, the peculiarities of the geographical landscape which the city sits on.

With his cosmopolitan career taking him from the low-lying cities of The Netherlands to the Alpine city of Innsbruck and to cities around the world Bart Lootsma, the architectural historian and theorist responsible for critically-acclaimed books such as SuperDutch, has been well-placed to see the effects of landscape and globalization on the individual character of places. In this extensive interview, originally titled "Beyond Branding" and published in MONU Magazine's "Geographical Urbanism" issue from April 2014, Bernd Upmeyer speaks to Lootsma about his adopted hometown of Innsbruck, and the role that geography, marketing and the collision of the two play on the identity of a city.

Sight-Seeing Tyrol, 2011. Image © Monika Hoefler Design by AllesWirdGut in which all cables that spoiled the view of the Nordkette from the Maria-Theresien-Straße in the city centre of Innsbruck were carefully removed. Image © AllesWirdGut Huis ten Bosch in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan. Image © Bart Lootsma Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut, Austria. Image © Bart Lootsma

AD Classics: Royal National Theatre / Denys Lasdun

Prince Charles once described the structure as a “clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting.” Despite the criticisms and the thirteen years it took to realize, Denys Lasdun’s Royal National Theatre may be the most beloved Brutalist building in Britain, thanks to its generous public spaces, thoughtful massing, and respect for the surrounding city.

When it was completed in 1976, the National Theatre actually housed three separate theatre spaces: a so-called “Open Theatre,” a traditional proscenium theatre, and an experimental studio theatre. When Lasdun was hired for the project in 1963, the plan also called for an Opera House, with all four venues combined in a single complex along the Thames River, where the Jubilee Gardens are now located. However, in 1966 a new parliament eliminated funding for the Opera House component, and in 1967 the entire project moved to a new site downstream. The shift in location was pivotal in shaping the final form: at the new site Lasdun drew inspiration from the adjacent Waterloo Bridge, Somerset House across the river, and a view to St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance.

9 Entreprenurial Architects Who Developed Innovative Products and Services

Architects love innovation; they are usually on the lookout for the latest innovation in materials and products which they can incorporate into their inevitably innovative designs. And yet, there's one place where they rarely innovate: their own business. This article, originally posted on Archipreneur as "Branching Out: 9 Architects Who Created Innovative Products," explores the world of architects who are innovating in other ways.

For decades the architectural business model has remained unchanged. While other industries have taken cues from the increasingly popular start-up mentality seen in the technology sector, architects have stuck to the outmoded practice of trading time for dollars. In a competitive global economy, this model is highly susceptible to changes in the real estate market and has limited opportunities for growth. These realities have propelled some architecture graduates to consider alternative career paths in which their unique skillset offers them a competitive advantage.

In contrast to the current business model of most architecture firms, we’ve gathered nine examples of architects who have created innovative products and services. These endeavors offer numerous advantages when it comes to growing a business because unlike the consulting model, product creation is highly scalable and has the potential to provide a continuous passive income stream.

Gaudí’s Casa Vicens to Open as a Museum in 2016

Designed by Antonio Gaudí in Barcelona when he was 30, and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005, Casa Vicens will be converted into a museum and open its doors to the public during the second half of 2016. 

Built between 1883 and 1889, Casa Vicens was the first house designed by Gaudí. The building’s current owner, a subsidiary of the financial group Mora Banc Grup, is currently working on its restoration and the museum planning. “The mission of Casa Vicens as a house museum is to present the first Gaudí house, presenting it as an essential work to understand his unique architectural language and the development of Art Nouveau in Barcelona,” explained the executive manager of the project, Mercedes Mora, in a recent interview with Iconic Houses

Learn more after the break. 

Casa Vicens. Image © Michela Simoncini [Flickr CC] Casa Vicens. Image © Ian Gampon [Flickr CC] Casa Vicens. Image © Ian Gampon [Flickr CC] Casa Vicens. Image © Ian Gampon [Flickr CC]

5 Reasons Frank Gehry Might be the Perfect Choice for the LA River Master Plan

Since the Los Angeles Times broke the news that the LA River Revitalization Corp has enlisted Gehry Partners to lead a new master plan effort for the Los Angeles River, there have been a slew of negative responses: the Friends of the Los Angeles River have refused to endorse the Gehry effort, reactions collected by the Architects Newspaper ranged from skeptical to angry, and Alissa Walker at Gizmodo did not mince words when her headline declared “Frank Gehry is the Wrong Architect to Revitalize the Los Angeles River.” These responses raise real and legitimate concerns - progress on the LA River has been years, if not decades, in the making. There is already a master plan, prepared by Mia Lehrer and Associates, and the US Army Corps of Engineers approved a plan to restore 11 miles of the river, known as Alternative 20, just this past July. There are worries that this new effort could threaten the current approvals and funding.

Frank Gehry is an easy target for criticism. His buildings can be polarizing, and his detractors are quick to seize on any defect. Details are trickling out slowly, but a recent presentation to reporters revealed that the plan would eventually identify locations for parks and real estate developments, as well as establish a unified design theme for future improvements such as pedestrian and bicycle paths. For his part, Gehry has emphasized the water reclamation aspects of the project - an especially timely subject in drought-stricken California. And in an interview with Frances Anderton on KCRW’s “Design and Architecture,” Gehry was quick to clarify, “It’s not a building, I’m not doing a building!”

19 Playgrounds that Prove Architecture Isn't Just for Adults

Former US President Theodore Roosevelt once said that play is a fundamental need — so much so that playgrounds should be provided for every child, just as schools are.

In countries around the world, architects are becoming increasingly innovative to create environments where children can explore their imaginations.

Today, playgrounds can float entirely on the ocean, or take the shape of an enormous, colorful crocodile.

Keep scrolling to see some of the best playground designs around the world that will make you want to be a kid again.

© Flickr/njcull © MONSTRUM © Wibit Sports GmbH Courtesy of Bounce Below

Winners of "The Rust Belt" Contest Offer Ideas for a 107-Acre Former Factory Site

Across industrial North America, many small working class cities are faced with a plethora of abandoned property due to the downfall of the automotive industry. The prolific ruins of the largest abandoned factory in North America, Detroit's Packard Motor Plant, have served as an emblem for dozens of similar plants dotting the landscapes of cities across the continent. In 2010, shortly after the beginning of the global economic crisis, Chrysler closed a sprawling engine factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The factory has since been demolished and is now at the beginning of a five-year cleanup. Located adjacent to a densely populated suburban development, the 107-acre property begs the question: what can be done with such a massive piece of land?

In response to Kenosha's Chrysler problem, a team of urbanists, architects and researchers known as Urban Design for Everyone (UD4U) launched a global competition to reinvigorate the former industrial property. Proposals had to take the adjacent neighborhoods into consideration, with the ultimate goal of bridging gaps between disparate communities at opposite ends of the property. The winning proposals range widely from a stylized village of housing, to the creation of enormous urban farms, to the construction of an innovation park featuring a series of vast artificial lakes. After receiving 43 entries from 17 countries, a jury of local architects selected three exceptional proposals and five honorable mentions. Find out what the teams proposed after the break.

Archi-Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

What type of architecture do dictators prefer? What would a subway map of the affairs of famous architects look like? What is the current state of gender and ethnic diversity within the profession? Which architects would win a color war, Dutch or American? Archi-Graphic places architecture on the operating table, using infographics to cut a visual cross-section that answers these questions and many more.

5 Takeaways From The RIBA's Report on the Architect-Client Relationship

Building projects are inherently complex: as projects progress, architects are joined by contractors, engineers, and myriad consultants. Architects, according to a recent report by RIBA, are considered the "spiritual leaders" of a building project. Cemented in this perception by a monopoly on design, architects continue to sit precariously atop project hierarchies despite a shifting landscape in building production. This begs the question: how can architects leverage this spiritual responsibility to translate into the best results for clients?

In their latest report Client & Architect: Developing the Essential Relationship, RIBA delves into the nuanced problem of connecting architecture to its owners, emphasizing the importance of a strong, functional and mutually educational relationship. Currently, architects have a tremendous opportunity to learn, improve and capitalize on understanding of clients, regardless of firm size, portfolio and established skills.

Read on to discover RIBA's findings from two years of client analysis

Japan's New Masters: Yuko Nagayama

Japanese design has long had a defining impact on other cultures from all over the world; as early as the mid-nineteenth century, fashionable collectors in Europe exchanged artifacts from Japan, and Frank Lloyd Wright was famously influenced by their distinctive architecture after a trip to the country in 1905. In recent decades, Japan has been one of architecture's superpowers, producing seven Pritzker Prize laureates in under 30 years. And, while Japan's Pritzker winners are widely revered, they are far from the only players on the scene, with a new wave of young Japanese architects now emerging behind internationally acclaimed names such as Sou Fujimoto.

In this new series of interviews titled "Japan's New Masters," Ebrahim Abdoh speaks to both the established and emerging architects of Japan's dynamic architectural scene. The first interview of the series is with Yuko Nagayama, founder of Yuko Nagayama and Associates.

Teshima Yokoo House. Image © Daici Ano Gokokuya. Image Courtesy of Yuko Nagayama & Associates Katsutadai House - click image for full project. Image © Daici Ano Urbanprem Minami Aoyama - click image for full project. Image © Daici Ano

3 Experimental Homes Address Hyper-Urbanization in Africa

By the year 2025, the urban population in Sub-Saharan Africa is predicated to increase by almost 70% -- a rapid urbanization that will inevitably affect the construction sector. 

To address this expected growth and to help lay the foundations for a sustainable urban and social development, students from the Institute of Experimental Architecture at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and EiABC (Ethiopian Institute of Architecture Building Construction and City Development) worked together to build three residential prototypes at a 1:1 scale for Addis Ababa: the capital of Ethiopia and the heart of hyper-urbanization. See all of the project details, below. 

Courtesy of Bauhaus Experimental Building Courtesy of Bauhaus Experimental Building Courtesy of Bauhaus Experimental Building Courtesy of Bauhaus Experimental Building

Official Trailer of the Chicago Architecture Biennial Released

On October 3 the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, The State of the Art of Architecture will commence. The “largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America," the exhibition is designed to be a multiplatform event that will host an array of radical ideas, projects and spatial experiments from more than 100 international architects that "demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience."

Aravena's Venice Biennale Theme Offers Hope for the Future of the Profession

On Monday, the Venice Biennale announced the theme of their 2016 event, to be directed by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena. The provocative title chosen by Aravena is "Reporting From the Front," a title loaded with implications of a battle against what he refers to as the "inertia of reality."

"More and more people in the planet are in search for a decent place to live and the conditions to achieve it are becoming tougher and tougher by the hour," explains his curatorial statement. "But unlike military wars where nobody wins and there is a prevailing sense of defeat, on the frontlines of the built environment, there is a sense of vitality because architecture is about looking at reality in a proposal key."

Aravena will have big shoes to fill. The previous Biennale, Rem Koolhaas' 2014 event, was extremely successful and highly praised by many critics. It was also widely regarded as the most anticipated event in the Biennale's history, after the Biennale had courted Koolhaas for years. But if Koolhaas' Biennale was the event that people looked forward to, I believe - or rather I hope - that Aravena's Biennale will be the one that people look back on in decades to come.

Harvard and Oxford Take On ISIS with Digital Preservation Campaign

From the 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin to the city of Nimrud, ISIS has destroyed countless monuments and relics. Now archaeologists from Harvard and Oxford have teamed up with UNESCO World Heritage and the epigraphical database project at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World to launch the Million Image Database Project. Spearheaded by Oxford's Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), the campaign plans to "flood" war-torn regions with thousands of 3D cameras so people can scan and (digitally) preserve their region's historical architecture and artifacts. 

5 Things Architecture Can Learn from the Tiny House Movement

As the global economy grows uncertain, homeowners are getting more creative in order to afford essential residential spaces. The tiny house movement has gained a foothold worldwide, encouraging the construction of homes as small as 150 square feet (14 square meters), with many smaller housing models cropping up on a daily basis. Home to residents of all ages, tiny houses have evolved far beyond the cramped quarters of Airstream trailers of decades past and, though they were once considered an architectural farce, tiny houses are becoming an increasingly popular solution to weather the economic storm and increasingly relevant to the field of architecture.

With their increasing respectability - and their popularity increasingly exposing the drawbacks of other housing types - we take a look at some lessons that while key to the tiny house movement, are still applicable in the larger architectural arena. Read on to find out what tiny houses can contribute to the race for better space.

Want to Work Internationally? Here's What You Need to Know About Copyright

Ideas are precious, precious things. A good one can upend a movement or make a career and they are, of course, worth a great deal. Architects live in a competitive globalized world, and in the race to succeed, defining who owns ideas is becoming increasingly important in an architect's professional life. ArchDaily has previously explained the essential points of architectural copyright and explored the complexities of legal judgments, but what if you want to work internationally? It's a much more complex issue than "China will let people copy what they want" or "Belgians will sue you" and if you want to work outside your home country then it's essential you understand the variables.

Fortunately, we've got you covered: we've pulled together a rundown of the essentials of copyright law and practice in some of the most popular countries to find work - read on for more.

Venice Biennale Announces Theme for 2016 Event: "Reporting From the Front"

The Venice Biennale has announced the theme selected by 2016 Biennale director Alejandro Aravena. Titled "Reporting From the Front," next year's Biennale will be an investigation into the role of architects in the battle to improve the living conditions for people all over the world. The theme aims to focus on architecture which works within the constraints presented by a lack of resources, and those designs which subvert the status quo to produce architecture for the common good - no matter how small the success.

What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

In our ArchDaily Interviews, we've been asking architects to give their answer to the question "what is architecture?" for years, and the answers we get are often provocative, in many cases provoking more questions in greater detail. Unfortunately, we haven't yet had the chance to pose this question to Rasmus Wærn & Gert Wingårdh of Wingårdh Arkitektkontor; fortunately, their new book released on September 1st, "What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions" gives us a great insight into the minds of these two practitioners through a series of question and answers which are as provocative and entertaining as they are poignant.

All this week, we've been sharing short, single question excerpts from the book, exploring just a fraction of the questions raised by the volume. Read on for links to all seven excerpts, and for your chance to win one of five giveaway copies of the book.