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Have We Reached the "End of Architecture"?

This year's Venice Biennale, curated by OMA's Rem Koolhaas, is "interested in the banal". In an article in the Financial Times', Edwin Heathcote discusses the paradox between exploring generic modernism at an event which celebrates the individual. Heathcote raises interesting questions about the extent to which world architecture has developed in modernity, ultimately arguing that, "in a way, architecture is over." You can read the article, which neatly investigates the curatorial rationale behind this year's Biennale, in full here.

Four Teams to Envision Proposals for D.C. “Bridge Park”

The four teams moving on to stage three of Washington D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park competition has been announced. Selected from over 80 qualified design firms from across the U.S., the following multidisciplinary teams will receive $25000 stipends to envision a new civic space spanning the Anacostia River by early September: 

Spotlight: Toyo Ito

As one of the leading architects of Japan's increasingly highly-regarded architecture culture, 2013 Pritzker Laureate Toyo Ito (born June 1, 1941) has defined his career by combining elements of minimalism with an embrace of technology, in a way that merges both traditional and contemporary elements of Japanese culture.

Spotlight: Norman Foster

Arguably the leading name of a generation of internationally high-profile British architects, Norman Foster (born 1 June 1935) - or to give him his full title Norman Robert Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank - gained recognition as early as the 1970s as a key architect in the high-tech movement, which continues to have a profound impact on architecture as we know it today.

Do New Buildings In London Have Shard Envy?

This interesting article by Oliver Wainwright at the Guardian reveals the trend in recent London architecture for "Shardettes" - smaller and usually cheaper imitations of Renzo Piano's famous design which Wainwright says "has become a beacon for designers bereft of inspiration." Highlighting four angular, glazed buildings that are either recently or partially constructed, he questions the quality of these miniature imitations and asks "is this Shardenfreude frenzy something to be welcomed?" You can read the full article here.

The Sprawled Desert City of Phoenix Sets Sights on Walkability

When the profit-driven bulldozing of virgin desert quickly transformed into unfinished ghost towns in 2008, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, reset their sights on a more sustainable and desirable way of living: walkable communities. With the establishment of the city’s first light rail, the once car-centric communities of its urban core have turned into swaths of pedestrian havens. This has not only improved the city’s desirability, but has also been good for business. See how else Phoenix is trying to “pull off an urban miracle” and reverse it’s sprawled image here on Fast Company

Spotlight: Frei Otto

German architect and structural engineer Frei Otto (31 May 1925 – 9 March 2015) was well known for his pioneering innovations in lightweight and tensile structures. Shortly before his death in 2015 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize and prior to that he was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2006. Much of his research in lightweight structures is as relevant today as when he first proposed them over 60 years ago, and his work continues to inform architects and engineers to this day.

Architects Compete to Design Goldsmiths' New Art Gallery

Harry Gugger Studio and 6a Architects are among six practices shortlisted in a competition to design a new art gallery at Goldsmiths University in London. Selected from 80 submissions, the final teams, which also include Assemble, Dow Jones Architects, HAT Projects and Jamie Fobert Architects, will now have six weeks to submit designs. Once complete, the 400 square meter gallery will be a "significant showcase for contemporary art" that serves a combination of curated exhibitions, residencies and research projects. It will be built behind the Laurie Grove Baths, a Grade II listed 19th-century municipal bath that is currently used as fine art studios. 

BIG and Kilo Redesign Gropius' Tableware Set

TAC tableware – designed in the 1960s by Walter Gropius and influenced by the Bauhaus style – has been given new life by BIG and the industrial design studio Kilo. The new tableware set features the heritage blue skylines of twelve cities, including Copenhagen, London, and New York. To check out the full set and spot the likes of Big Ben and the Statue of Liberty, head to the manufacturer's website by clicking here.

Lecture / Four Urban Models in China's Accelerated Urbanization: Local Public Space Implications

China's accelerated urbanization juxtaposes many local and global urban models in the contemporary urban space of the mega-city/metacity region. Since 1945 the global and local discourse on urban design and development has been dominated by four conceptual models. These four models, the metropolis, the megalopolis, the fragmented metropolis and the megacity/metacity have appeared in Asia with local characteristics and with special, hybrid characteristics. China's rapid urbanization has been based on an equally rapid industrialization that has telescoped the historical development pattern of western nations into 60 years. 

Mecanoo Selected for New Manchester University Building

Mecanoo has been selected to design the new Engineering campus at the University of Manchester. At a value of £200 million, the project will be the largest ever completed by the Dutch Practice in the UK - slightly larger than the popular Library of Birmingham which they completed last year - and will involve both new build elements and a renovation of the University's Grade-II Listed Oddfellows Hall. The new technology building is part of a larger £1 billion overhaul which the university aims to complete by 2020. You can find out more details at the Architects' Journal.

The Future of Brick: Biodegradable And Bacterial

MoMA’s PS1 exhibit in Queens is a showcase for young architects with lofty ideas. This year’s winning firm “The Living” designed "Hi-Fy" - a biodegradable brick tower. Although the idea might seem far-fetched for housing, the idea is gaining traction. North Carolina start-up bioMason, recently won the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge for their “biodegradable bricks.” So Kieron Monks at CNN had to ask the question, would you live in a house made of sand, bacteria or fungi? Find out the benefits of these modern bricks here.

Exhibition / Knud Lonberg-Holm: The Invisible Architect

Ubu Gallery is pleased to present Knud Lonberg-Holm: The Invisible Architect, a debut exhibition devoted to this overlooked, yet highly influential, 20th Century modernist. Never-before-seen photographs, architectural drawings, letters, graphic design, and ephemera from Lonberg-Holm’s remarkably diverse career will be on view through August 1, 2014. The exhibition, which consists of selections from the extensive archive assembled by architectural historian Marc Dessauce, will solidify the importance of this emblematic figure in early 20th Century cultural and architectural history. Metropolis Magazine, the national publication of architecture and design, will publish an article on Knud Lonberg-Holm to coincide with this groundbreaking exhibition.

Erik Møller Arkitekter to Modernize Alvar Aalto’s Kunsten

Erik Møller Arkitekter has been commissioned to modernize Alvar Aalto’s white marble Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. As reported by BDOnline, the £14 million renovation will restore parts of the listed museum, as well as transform the building’s basement into a new 600 square meter exhibition space. 

Japanese Architect Launches Second Petition Against Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Stadium

Tokyo-based architect Edward Suzuki has launched another petition against Zaha Hadid's design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium, claiming it is "overwhelmingly large for the context" and "will desecrate the 'sacred grounds' of Meiji Shrine Outer Gardens". This is the second petition against the design and is intended to support the earlier petition by Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki by providing an equivalent targeted primarily at English speakers, aiming to "pressure our government not only from within but also from outside of our country." You can see the petition in full here.

The World’s Fair New York State Pavilion to Be Digitally Preserved

If you haven't heard of CyArk yet, make sure to check out their recent Kickstarter project. The not-for-profit company digitally preserves some of the world's most important sites: including Easter Island, Mt. Rushmore and The Pantheon, to name a few. Now the group is headed to New York to preserve Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin's 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion. Since the fair ended, the pavilion has fallen into disrepair and been heavily vandalized. With assistance from the University of Central Florida, they plan to release the digitally preserved 3D files to the public, for free. To help preserve this "National Treasure," check out their Kickstarter page.

Spotlight: Robert A.M. Stern

As founder of Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, Robert A.M. Stern is a self-proclaimed modern traditionalist – and no, in his eyes, that is not an oxymoron. When asked about the seeming contradiction in a PBS documentary, he replies by musing, "Can one speak the local languages of architecture in a fresh way?"

International Competition for Rehabilitating Mapo Oil Depot into a Cultural Depot Park

The Mapo Oil Depot is a valuable industrial legacy of Seoul but has been forgotten for quite some time since its original purpose was terminated. In an era of economic growth in Korea, a fresh approach is needed regarding this industrial legacy, which, ironically can survive in having been forgotten.