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AD Interviews: Xiaodu Liu / URBANUS

At the end of 2014, we had the opportunity to catch up with Xiaodu Liu, one of the three founding partners of Chinese firm URBANUS. Telling us about the role of architects in today's society - especially in China - he discusses how the creativity which URBANUS is known for plays a part in the business of their practice: "Innovation is actually everything for URBANUS, because the firm is doing projects for very challenging jobs. That's the only way we do marketing; we have to do something creative, otherwise we don't have any marketing tools to get something more conventional... we push ourselves to the limit."

Connected to this, he sees intellectual exchange as the foundation of their success, a mechanism that has allowed them to eschew more traditional marketing: "We have some people similar to us, that are well connected, people understand our work and support our work and they like us. Then we have that network and people refer to us and they actually bring jobs to us... networking is more like in the academic level - a more intellectual exchange."

Watch the full interview above and check out our past coverage of URBANUS below.

Nanshan Wedding Center. Image © Meng Yan & Wu Qiwei Maillen Hotel And Apartment. Image © Wu Qiwei Tulou Housing Guangzhou. Image © Iwan Baan Library of South University of Science and Technology of China. Image © Alex Chan

Oscar-Nominated Film Captures Life with Modernist Architect Parents

Minimalism has its challenges and for this seven-year-old sibling of two, it’s not for children. Nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 87th Academy Awards, Me and My Moulton captures the unconventional life and struggles of three kids with modernist architect parents. Watch the trailer above and see what director Torill Kove believes are five sure signs your parents were architects, after the break. 

Happy 25th Birthday Photoshop; Architecture Wouldn't be the Same Without You

This past week, Adobe Photoshop turned 25 years old. That’s right: at an age where us mere mortals are often still embarrassingly reliant on our parents, Photoshop is taking the opportunity to look back on how it became one of the world’s most ubiquitous pieces of software, and how in just a quarter-century it has transformed our very conceptions of beauty and even reality itself.

Of course, to the general public Photoshop is probably best-known for the role it has played in the fashion and advertising industries. Serving up heavily processed, idealized images of anatomically dubious models, its effect in our wider culture is well-known, but Photoshop has had its impact on the architecture profession as well. Join us after the break as we look at 25 years of Photoshop in architecture.

Mediating Mies: Dirk Lohan's Langham Hotel Lobby at the IBM Building

In 2013 the former IBM Building in Chicago, Mies van der Rohe's last completed skyscraper, underwent a significant renovation as a part of the tower was converted into a hotel. In this article, originally published in Blueprint issue #338 as "Lobbying for Mies van der Rohe," Anthea Gerrie catches up with Dirk Lohan - the Chicago architect who helped his grandfather design the building nearly 50 years ago, and who was called back in to design the new hotel's entrance lobby.

"It's not very Mies," says Dirk Lohan dubiously, in one of the great understatements of the year. We are standing in the double-height reception hall of the Langham Chicago hotel with what looks like dozens of multicoloured glass balloons swimming above us and a mirror-glass frieze adding to a cacophony of glitz and dazzle.

It is indeed the very antithesis of the aesthetic of the architect known for the phrase "less is more". But then the audacious idea of converting an office building by the most functionalist of architects into a five-star hotel was always going to be problematic.

The entrance canopy to the Langham Chicago at the former IBM Building. Image Courtesy of DesignCurial Dirk Lohan, sitting in his lobby for the Langham Hotel in the renovated IBM Building. Image © Matt Haas Courtesy of DesignCurial Other spaces throughout the building, such as the reception lobby pictured here, are "not very Mies," says Lohan. Image Courtesy of DesignCurial A young Dirk Lohan follows his grandfather Mies van der Rohe into a meeting. Image Courtesy of DesignCurial

Nouvel, Gehry and Elemental Among 15 Shortlisted for “Design of the Year 2015”

London’s Design Museum has released 15 shortlisted projects that are being considered for the prestigious “Design of the Year” award. From Wendell Burnette’s Desert Courtyard House to Jean Nouvel’s One Central Park skyscraper, the wide-ranging list spans all scales, showcasing some of the best newly completed projects from across the globe. 

The award, now in its eighth year, “celebrates design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year.” 76 nominees over six categories have been selected. The jury, chaired by artist Anish Kapoor and includes architect Farshid Moussavi, will choose category winners on May 4. An overall winner will be revealed June 4. 

Last year, Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan was the first building in the award’s history to win the overall prize. 

View all the shortlisted buildings, after the break. 

Living Under a Rock: Setenil de las Bodegas

The Andalucian town of Setenil de las Bodegas looks like something from the set of a culturally adventurous fantasy film, but cave dwelling is actually common in Andalucia; being so close to the African continental plate, geological forces threw up mountain ranges and volcanoes that are perfectly suited for habitation. The rocks and caves make for surprisingly easy settlement, and the nearby Cueva de la Pileta shows evidence of a human presence up to 25,000 years ago. After that, though, the inhabitants of the caves here are mostly ignored up until the 12th century, when Setenil's Moorish castle appears on the historical record.

© Flickr CC user manuelfloresv © Flickr CC user manuelfloresv © Flickr CC user manuelfloresv © Flickr CC user José Luis Sánchez Mesa

UNESCO Reveals Winning Scheme For The Bamiyan Cultural Centre In Afghanistan

, in collaboration with the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture, have announced the winning proposal for the Bamiyan Cultural Centre. An Argentina-based team, lead by Carlos Nahuel Recabarren alongside Manuel Alberto Martínez Catalán and Franco Morero, were selected from 1,070 design entries from 117 countries. Prepatory work on implementing their scheme, entitled Descriptive Memory: The Eternal Presence of Absence, "will start immediately" close to the boundaries of the Bamiyan World Heritage site.

See the winning entry and the four runners-up after the break.

Runner Up [4]: Entrance View. Image Courtesy of UNESCO Runner Up [2]: Performance Space. Image Courtesy of UNESCO Runner Up [1]: Interior Perspective. Image Courtesy of UNESCO Runner Up [3]: Elevation. Image Courtesy of UNESCO

Solid Wood: The Rise of Mass Timber Architecture

Largely overlooked in the development of Modernism, timber architecture is making a comeback in the 21st century with the success of designers such as last year's Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban, and the push toward timber towers from large influential firms such as SOM. In the following extract, author Joseph Mayo introduces his new book, "Solid Wood: Case Studies in Mass Timber Architecture, Technology and Design," which examines the rise of mass timber design through historical analysis and contemporary case studies.

Few books have addressed the use of wood in large, non-residential buildings. While light frame construction and residential resources are common, little has been written about the use of wood in taller, urban, commercial and institutional buildings. Solid Wood presents a survey of new timber architecture around the world to reveal this construction type’s unique appeal and potential. Not surprisingly, enthusiasm for solid wood architecture (also known as mass timber architecture) and engineering is now growing rapidly among a new generation of architects and designers.

ARCHINOWHERE: A Parallel Archi-Universe Illustrated by Federico Babina

Federico Babina has released ARCHINOWHERE, a “series of illustrations that represent a parallel universe where past, present and future intertwine” to present a fantastical collection of “realistic yet unreal” architectural visions. The playful graphic, as Babina describes, “maintains a balance between illustrated architecture and an architectonical illustration” to relay imagined stories built on a foundation of contemporary ideals. 

Courtesy of Federico Babina Courtesy of Federico Babina Courtesy of Federico Babina Courtesy of Federico Babina

INTERIORS: Birdman

Interiors is an online film and architecture journal, published by Mehruss Jon Ahi and Armen KaraoghlanianInteriors runs an exclusive column for ArchDaily that analyzes and diagrams films in terms of space. Their Official Store will carry exclusive prints from these posts.

There has been much said and written about the use of the long take in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (2014), and how its filmmakers stitched together numerous long shots in an attempt to make the majority of the film feel like a continuous scene. The film follows (literally) its protagonist, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), an actor past his prime, as he plans his career comeback with a stage production.

Emmanuel Lubezki seems the ideal collaborator for the director’s vision. The cinematographer, known for his extended takes in films such as Y Tu Mamá También (2001), Children of Men (2006) and Gravity (2013), has made use of the technique as a way of bringing audiences closer to the action. Birdman is the culmination of his experimentation with the form, bringing together these ideas and creating an immersive experience with a sense of urgency.

The film, of course, uses digital effects and editing as a way of creating its illusion. Birdman’s cuts are hidden between instances of darkness, made possible through the work of production designer Kevin Thompson, who started his work by mapping out the entire film on a floor plan of the sets.

"A Message to Everybody": The Red Square Pavilion Winners on Encouraging Tolerance with Architecture

Announced in the summer of 2014 the Red Square Tolerance Pavilion, an international ideas competition organized by HMMD, was a deliberately provocative proposal before any teams had even entered - a statement planned in an envronment where tolerance is an increasingly urgent topic, for people both inside and outside Russia. In this interview, originally published by Strelka Magazine, the Italian winners of the competition discuss their proposal and its response to this charged context.

This January the winners of the ‘Red Square Tolerance Pavilion’ competition that was organised by international organisation HMMD were announced. The first prize was given to a team of architects from Italy. Their bold and daring project proposed to build the pavilion right against the Kremlin wall. Strelka Magazine caught up with Kiana Jalali, Marco Merigo, Alessandro Vitale and Matteo Pagani to discuss fluidity of space, the symbolism behind their design and the media image of Russia.

Courtesy of HMMD Courtesy of HMMD Courtesy of HMMD Courtesy of HMMD

A Preview of Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Broad Museum, Courtesy of Instagram

Here's The Broad 3rd floor gallery space before the art walls are installed #broad2015 #huftonandcrow @thebroadmuseum

A photo posted by ©Hufton+Crow (@huftonandcrow) on

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Los Angeles' Broad Museum is due to open September 20th. However, in an attempt to ease the tensions surrounding the building's many delays and legal problems, this past weekend members of the press and a small number of ticketed members of the public where invited to view the unfinished building, offering a preview of the long-awaited addition to LA's Grand Avenue museum scene.

As LA Times Critic Christopher Hawthorn reports, the previews were initiated by Elizabeth Diller herself, with the architect meeting giving reporters a tour of the space on Friday. On Sunday 3,000 members of the public were allowed to enter, after tickets for the event sold out after just 30 minutes. Now that the previews are over, the Broad will remain off limits until its official opening later this year and the rest of us will have to make do with the many Instagram and Twitter shots from those lucky enough to attend - after the break, we've collected 12 of the best.

A Wilderness in the City: How Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Zaryadye Park Could Help Fix Moscow

In late 2013, Diller Scofidio + Renfro won first prize in the international competition to design Zaryadye Park, Moscow's first new park in 50 years. The project is a headliner in a series of high-profile schemes that aim to improve the city's green space, including the renovation of Gorky Park and the recently revealed plans for the Moscow River. This article, originally published by The Calvert Journal as part of their How to Fix Moscow series examines how DS+R's urban "wilderness" will impact the city.

In a 2010 interview, the critic and historian Grigory Revzin complained that Muscovites wishing to "walk in parks and get pleasure from the city" would have to "come out into the streets" before anything was done. Hoping that architects would respond to the problem, one of Revzin's suggestions was a park to replace the site of Hotel Rossiya, which had become overgrown since being abandoned in 2007. This wild area in the city centre was, in fact, a harbinger of what is to come: Zaryadye Park, Moscow's first new park in 50 years, which the American design studio Diller Scofidio+Renfro won the international competition to design in November 2013.

Courtesy of Zaryadye Park Courtesy of Zaryadye Park Courtesy of Zaryadye Park Courtesy of Zaryadye Park

22 Websites You Didn't Know Were Useful to Architects

Being an architect is hard. At times, you're expected to act as everything from a graphic designer to a handyman (or woman), from a data scientist to a writer, or from a computer programmer to a public speaker. And, you're expected to do all these things on little to no sleep and for a much lower wage than you're probably worth. But don't fear - the internet is here to help (it's not just a place to procrastinate, you know).

We've collected 22 free websites that can help you in the never ending quests for efficiency, knowledge and good taste. Whether you're selecting the perfect color scheme for a presentation or graph, tracking the price of your next big purchase, solving technical problems or simply trying to balance your sleep and caffeine intake, there's something in this list to help everyone. 

The 14 Stories Behind the 2015 Building of the Year Award Winners

With our annual Building of the Year Awards, over 30,000 readers narrowed down over 3,000 projects, selecting just 14 as the best examples of architecture that ArchDaily has published in the past year. The results have been celebrated and widely shared, of course, usually in the form of images of each project. But what is often forgotten in this flurry of image sharing is that every one of these 14 projects has a backstory of significance which adds to our understanding of their architectural quality.

Some of these projects are intelligent responses to pressing social issues, others are twists on a well-established typology. Others still are simply supreme examples of architectural dexterity. In order that we don't forget the tremendous amount of effort that goes into creating each of these architectural masterpieces, continue reading after the break for the 14 stories that defined this year's Building of the Year Awards.

Light Matters: Le Corbusier and the Trinity of Light

For his three sacred buildings, Le Corbusier has played masterfully with orientation, openings and textures to create kinetic architecture with daylight. His pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp, the monastery of Sainte Marie de La Tourette, and the parish church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy reveal distinctive and individual approaches that each render contemplative spaces with light. In his book “Cosmos of Light: The Sacred Architecture of Le Corbusier,” Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has analysed these projects with outstanding photographs taken over 40 years and brilliant writing.

Read on for more about how Le Corbusier created his cosmos of light.

Corridor to atrium cadenced with sunshine in late morning. Monastery of Sainte Marie de la Tourette, Éveux-sur-l’Arbresle, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011 Upward view into scoop at sunrise. Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011 Golden light on altar wall. Church of Saint-Pierre, Firminy, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011 Upward view of fissure and brise-soleil, on overcast day. Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011

VIDEO: Bjarke Ingels Walks Us Through The Design of Vancouver House

Taking the urban high-rise “one step further,” BIG’s Vancouver House (formerly known as the Beach and Howe Tower) is a gesamtkunstwerk - total work of art. Detailed to the smallest scale, the grand scheme makes use of a difficult site trisected by the Granville overpass and burdened by setbacks, transforming it into a “lively village” at the city’s gateway.

Learn how Bjarke Ingels plans to revolutionize urban living by watching the video above. 

Vincent Laforet's "Sin City" Shows Vegas from 10,800 Feet

Vincent Laforet is at it again, this time photographing Nevada’s Sin City from an elevation of 10,800 feet (8,799 feet above the city). Part two of Laforet’s dizzying series of city aerials, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer was drawn to desert city of Las Vegas because of its “island” effect. 

“Just like the island of Manhattan that started this series, Vegas is an "Island of Light" in the middle of nothingness… A sea of black with an amazing source of light emanating from Vegas and its infamous strip… You can almost see the electricity running through it.”

A collection of "Sin City" images, after the break.