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Call for Entries: Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence 2015

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) has opened their 2015 call for applications. The biennial award celebrates urban places that are distinguished by quality design and their social and economic contributions to our nation’s cities. Winners offer creative placemaking solutions that transcend the boundaries between architecture, urban design and planning and showcase innovative thinking about American cities. One Gold Medal of $50,000 and four Silver Medals of $10,000 will be awarded. Projects must be a real place, not just a plan or a program, and be located in the 48 contiguous United States. Award winners may use prize money in any way that benefits the project. The deadline for entries is December 9, 2014. Learn how to apply here

Places Journal Relaunches With a Fresh Commitment to Accessible Architecture Scholarship

After a five-year stint as part of the Design Observer Group, Places Journal has now struck out on their own with a fresh, modern website and a renewed commitment to their editorial goal of publishing "rigorous and lively public scholarship on architecture, landscape, and urbanism." As explained by Places Journal's editor and executive director Nancy Levinson, "what drives our editorial enterprise is the publication of excellent work that combines the narrative power of serious journalism with the precision and depth of scholarship — work that advances the cause of equitable cities and sustainable landscapes." Read more about the new Places Journal after the break.

Architects Envision Buoyant "Thames Deckway" for London Cyclists

On the heels of Mayor Boris Johnson’s announced plan to construct an 18-mile protected bike lane by March 2016, architect David Nixon and artist Anna Hill have released their vision for relieving London’s congested streets with a floating “Thames Deckway” for cyclists. The proposal, though just in its preliminary design phase, claims the river Thames is currently a missed opportunity that could serve as a major travel artery for cyclists. If constructed, the £600 million project would run east-west for seven miles along the river’s southern bank, from Battersea to Canary Wharf, and harness it’s own energy through solar, tidal and wind power. Nixon and Hill have founded the River Cycleway Consortium in support of the project, which includes Arup and Hugh Broughton Architects.

Henning Larsen Foundation Launches Architecture and Film Competition

The Henning Larsen Foundation is launching an international competition on architecture and film with the intent to “revitalize the use of architecture on film and foster new inspiration to architects and film professionals.” The theme of the competition is the experience of architectural space over time. The task is to create a film sequence of 1-5 minutes which animates architecture by embracing time as the primary dimension. Up to €18,000 in prizes will be awarded to entrants who inspire a new approach to architecture and the film media. Submissions are due by March 15, 2015. A winner will be announced on April 20, Henning Larsen’s birthday. More information can be found here

Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce

Breaking New Ground is an international design and ideas competition addressing the urgent affordable housing needs for farmworker and service worker families in the Coachella Valley, where efforts to improve living conditions suffers from a lack of funding and coordination. Going beyond design, the competition seeks to envision new precedents, mechanisms, and policies for affordable housing implementation and development, with implications for California and the nation.

Rem’s Kit of Parts: Exhaustive and Exhausting, Mad and Maddening

In “Elements,” an exhibition and accompanying book for the 2014 Venice Architecture BiennaleRem Koolhaas seeks to explore the omnipresent components of buildings that have never been intentionally articulated by architectural theory. Breaking down the history of architecture into its fundamental components, the text is divided into 15 volumes and functions as “a technophilic treatise on the state of architectural thinking in the twenty-first century.” Despite providing lessons in architectural history, does the book deliver a compelling synthesis of all its parts? In his full review of the book for Metropolis Magazine, Samuel Medina argues that Koolhaas "fails to unpack the language of his argument," resulting in a book that is "ambitious, overreaching, maddening" - much like the exhibition itself. Read the full review here.

Spotlight: Le Corbusier

"Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep." 

Three Winning Schemes Reinvent the African Mud Hut

The Nka Foundation recently challenged young graduates and students of architecture to redesign the African mud hut for Ghana. The result, three designs received top honors for being both functional and beautiful, and will now be realized through a series of building workshops that you can participate in. Learn more and check out the winning designs, after the break.

Second Solo House to Open Its Doors

What happens when eight world-renowned architects are given carte blanche to design holiday homes on a dream site in Spain? This is precisely what French developer Christian Bourdais set out to discover with the launch of the Solo House project in 2010, and now, you can find out for yourself. Just two years after the completion of Solo Pezo, by Chilean architect Pezo von Ellrichshausen, the second of twelve houses is now emerging for tours and site visits. Solo OFFICE, by Office Kersten Geers David van Severen, will open its doors to visitors this week, October 9 through 11, as it nears fruition. 

Can You Imagine a City Without Air Conditioners?

Despite Finland’s relatively cool temperatures, climate changes have made heat waves more common in Northern Europe, and the demand for cooling buildings in summer is increasing. Instead of installing air conditioners for individual buildings, Helsinki is pioneering a vast network of underground infrastructure that pumps cold water from lakes and seas into local buildings. Beneath an unassuming park in downtown Helsinki sits a reservoir containing nearly 9 million gallons of water that is recycled and cooled by waste energy after it is used for cooling, replacing the need for air conditioning in the city and cutting carbon pollution by 80%. Read more about this undertaking in this article from Fast Co. Exist.

Rem Koolhaas and the New Frontline of Transformation

When you abandon the countryside in favour of the city, what do you leave behind? In a recent essay for Icon Magazine, OMA co-founder Rem Koolhaas deliberates on the intersection between the two, arguing that "our current obsession with only the city is highly irresponsible because you cannot understand the city without understanding the countryside."

Did the New World Trade Center Live Up to its Expectations?

The USA's tallest building shoulders one of the nation's greatest challenges: paying tribute to lives lost in one of the country's greatest tragedies. One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan has yet to be completed and yet has still recently been condemned by a number of critics, who cite the former "Freedom Tower" as an inspirational failure. Thirteen years after the attacks, the wider site at ground zero also remains plagued by red tape and bureaucratic delays, unfinished and as-yet-unbuilt World Trade Centers, Calatrava's $5B transit hub, and an absence of reverence, according to critics. Read some of the most potent reviews of the new World Trade Center site from the press in our compilation after the break.

Five Shortlisted for Marlborough College Science Building

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Nicholas Hare Architects, Orms, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Tim Ronalds Architects have been shortlisted in a competition to expand and develop the Marlborough College science building in Wiltshire, England. “The current Science Block has a fascinating heritage but needs a new life to accommodate new teaching methods,” explained Malcolm Reading, the competition’s organizer. “The competition is all about finding a balance between the architectural grain of the existing eclectic campus and a confident and exciting piece of contemporary architecture.” The teams will now develop proposals. A winner will be announced in December. 

The Architecture of Happy Hour: Plotted, Not Stirred

Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, and Rem Koolhaas walk into a bar. What do they order? CAD Drinks, of course. It's a Singapore Sling like you have never seen before: drawn to scale, in elevation, and divided meticulously by content - ice cubes and orange slice included. Alcoholic drinks are colour coded, inventoried, organized and rendered in this downloadable DWG for Autocad. Architects rejoice: happy hour is that much closer to lunch hour.

Labour Minister Endorses UK-Wide Architecture Festival and More Competitions

The UK's Shadow Culture Minister Helen Goodman has outlined a number of ideas that she would like to put into practice should her party win the next general election, reports the Architects' Journal. The proposals, made at last week's Labour Party Conference in Manchester, include increasing the number of open architecture competitions held in the UK and holding a major UK-wide annual festival of architecture. Read on after the break for more on Goodman's proposals.

matterbetter Launches Competition in Honor of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

matterbetter has launched an international open-ideas competition for a Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) Memorial and Park in Amsterdam. MH17 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down near the Ukraine–Russia border on July 17, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

Natural Histories for Los Angeles Presents “Wet Horizons”

An installation and exhibition by Luis Callejas / LCLA office 
Exhibition Opening: October 11, 7—10 pm 
October 11—November 23, 2014
Neutra VDL Research House, Los Angeles, CA 

Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is often cited as one of the most inspirational architects of our time. At an age when many architects are just beginning to establish themselves in professional practice, Ingels has already won numerous competitions and achieved a level of critical acclaim (and fame) that is rare for new names in the industry. His work embodies a rare optimism that is simultaneously playful, practical, and immediately accessible.