The Air from Other Planets, A Brief History of Architecture

Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers

The following is an excerpt from Sean Lally’s The Air from Other Planets, A Brief History of Architecture to Come. The book introduces the reader to an architecture produced by designing the energy within our environment (electromagnetic, thermodynamic, acoustic, and chemical)– an architecture that exchanges walls and shells for a range of material energies that develop its own shapes, aesthetics, organizational systems, and social experiences. Energy becomes its own enterprise for design innovation; it becomes the architecture itself.

One of architecture’s primary acts is to define the spatial boundaries that organize and hold specified activities within them. The behavioral properties of the materials used to make that boundary not only influence the physical characteristics of that space (maximum height, span, aperture sizes), but also determine how the human body perceives and senses those boundary changes (opacity, transparency, acoustics), which then informs the behaviors and movements of the individuals using the space.  This definition of boundaries is one that architects have continually tested and subverted as new materials, construction methods, and social trends have emerged over the centuries.  It follows that if energy could be controlled and deployed as physical boundaries that define and organize spaces that the human body can detect and recognize, wouldn’t that be architecture? These new building materials would only need to demonstrate that they could absorb the “responsibilities” of boundaries—able to determine spatial hierarchies, provide security, hold aesthetic value, etc.—for them to be called architecture. Current trends just on the periphery of the discipline that could make this a possibility only need to be integrated through the lens of the architect to see their potential.

Competition Entry: Romanian Pavilion (Milan Expo 2015) / Collective East Architects

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Placing sixth in the competition to design the Romanian Pavilion for the 2015 Milan Expo, Collective East Architects offered a “simple and powerful landmark” that focuses on the history of Romania’s agriculture. Serving as an “attractor and orientation mark,” the structure was conceived by repeating a traditional Romanian pattern that “transformed the pavilion into a sculptural object with a powerful national identify.” From a distance, the facade appears “introverted and impenetrable;” as viewers move closer, the building begins to expose its contents, revealing a level of detail one would expect in a “jewelry museum.”  

ARUP Downtown Los Angeles / ZAGO Architecture

© Joshua White

Architects: ZAGO Architecture
Location: 811 Wilshire Boulevard, , CA 90017, USA
Project Team: Andrew Zago, Laura Bouwman, Dale Strong
Area: 2500.0 ft2
Year: 2014
Photographs: Joshua White

The Depreciating Value of Form in the Age of Digital Fabrication

The ICD / ITKE Research Pavilion 2011, demonstrating an example of a Voronoi diagram at work. Image © ICD / ITKE University of Stuttgart

In this article, originally appearing on the Australian Design Review as “Tolerance and Customisation: a Question of Value“, Michael Parsons argues that the complex forms made possible by may soon be victims of their own popularity, losing their intrinsic value as they become more common and the skill required to make them decreases.

The idea of tolerance in architecture has become a popular point of discussion due to the recent mainstreaming of digital fabrication. The improvements in digital fabrication methods are allowing for two major advancements: firstly, the idea of reducing the tolerance required in construction to a minimum (and ultimately zero) and secondly, mass customisation as a physical reality. Digital fabrication has made the broad-brushstroke approach to fabrication tolerance obsolete and now allows for unique elements and tolerance specific to each element. The accuracy that digital fabrication affords the designer, allows for the creation of more complex forms with greater ease and control. So far, this has had great and far reaching implications for design.

Read on to find out how this ease of form-making could diminish the success of complex forms. 

Bessancourt Hall / ARCHICLUB

© 11h45 montrer l’architecture

Architects: ARCHICLUB
Location: Rue de l’Église, 95550 ,
Architect In Charge: Fabien Duchene architects
Area: 580.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: 11h45 montrer l’architecture

Electric Ramps At The Old Centre / Roberto Ercilla + Miguel Angel Campo

© César Martín

Architects: Roberto Ercilla + Miguel Angel Campo
Location: , Álava, Spain
Photographs: César Martín

Seed, blueprint for libraries in South African Schools (Johannesburg) / Architects of Justice (Kuba GRANICKI, Mike RASSMANN, Alessio LACOVIG)
Seed, blueprint for libraries in South African Schools (Johannesburg) / Architects of Justice (Kuba GRANICKI, Mike RASSMANN, Alessio LACOVIG)

Young Architects in Africa Announced

AS.Architecture-Studio has announced the 2014 Young Architects in Africa. The award aims to highlight creative African projects and help a rising generation of young architects achieve worldwide recognition. Selected from nearly 200 projects, these three practices have been named as finalists: Architects of Justice (South Africa), Urko SANCHEZ (Kenya), and Andre CHRISTENSEN & Mieke DROOMER (South Africa). 

The P House / Studio MK27 – Marcio Kogan + Lair Reis

© FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

Architects: Studio MK27 – Marcio Kogan,
Location: São Paulo,
Architect In Charge: Marcio Kogan
Interior: Diana Radomysler
Area: 773.0 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

House of Disable People’s Organization / Cubo + Force4

© Martin Schubert

Architects: Cubo, Force4
Location: Blekinge Boulevard, 2630 , Denmark
Area: 12600.0 sqm
Photographs: Martin Schubert

KTA Details Australia’s Largest Urban Renewal Project

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Koichi Takada Architects (KTA) has released details on ’s biggest urban renewal project: Green Square. Shaped by the pedestrian and traffic flows that surround the building, the mixed-use, multi-residential complex is expected to serve as the gateway of Sydney’s Green Square Town Centre by its completion in 2016.

Day 1. Image Courtesy of Rafael de La-Hoz
Day 1. Image Courtesy of Rafael de La-Hoz

Rafael de La-Hoz Unveils TEDA Monument in Tianjin

Spanish architect Rafael de La-Hoz has designed a mirrored, 60-meter monument to commemorate the 30 anniversary of the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA). The design, titled “A Cut between heaven and earth”, was “driven by an effort to analyze the process of abstraction and reinterpretation of the site.” 

Zaha Hadid Designs “City of Dreams” Hotel Tower in Macau

North Elevation. Image © ; 2014 Melco Crown Entertainment Limited

Zaha Hadid Architects has designed a 40-story luxury hotel for ’s premier leisure and entertainment destination known as “City of Dreams.” Perceived as a single “sculptural element” united by an exposed exoskeleton mesh structure, the “simple volume” was extruded from its rectangular site as two towers connected at the podium and roof levels, with two organically-shaped bridges punctuating the tower’s center external void. This central void is then celebrated by a 40-meter tall, “grandiose atrium” that greets visitors as they enter the hotel.

Take a digital tour through the building and into the atrium via a newly released video, after the break…

What’s “Green” Anyway? ShapedEarth’s Accurate, Carbon-Based Alternative

Courtesy of .com

“Green” measures nothing. Which is greener: a building that saves water or a building that uses certified carpet? There is no obvious answer to this question – this is why trying to quantify “green” is biased and leads nowhere. Using as a metric, on the other hand, makes sense. This is something you can accurately measure and therefore reduce. Going “low-” not only contributes to fighting climate change but also totally redefines construction (choice of materials, energy sources, etc.).

This is why shapedearth.com, the first free online calculator for assessing the whole life embodied carbon of building projects, is such a useful tool.

Switch Residence / APOLLO Architects & Associates

© Masao Nishikawa

Architects: APOLLO Architects & Associates
Location: Tokyo,
Architect In Charge: Satoshi Kurosaki
Area: 123 sqm
Year: 2006
Photographs: Masao Nishikawa

Daniel Libeskind on Italy, Design, & the State of Architecture Today

Rendering of the CHAU 43 residential project in Berlin, whose facade will be clad in Libeskind’s titanium ceramic porcelain tile.. Image Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

In this interview with Daniel Libeskind, originally featured on Metropolis as Q&A: Daniel Libeskind on Italy, Product Design, and the State of Architecture Today, talks to Libeskind about his perspective on Italian culture, its influence on his career, and his most recent foray into product design.

When you talk to Daniel Libeskind, no single question has a simple answer. From his days as a young musical prodigy (he played the accordion) to his directorship at Cranbrook Academy, not to mention his voracious passion for literature, the fascinating episodes of his life all come together, informing his approach to design and architecture. His career path is an unusual one. And while that is true for many architects, his is particularly interesting, where each twist and turn, no matter how ostensibly disconnected, seem to have always prepared him for his next step. Take his two highest profile jobs, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the master plan for Ground Zero. The two are intrinsically linked—the museum’s official opening to the public in 2001 was originally scheduled on September 11. The project had taken 13 years of political maneuvering to realize. Similarly, Libeskind’s World Trade Center site master plan was marred by a decade of delays and alterations, which threatened to blot out his original design intentions. One monumental task after the other, eerily similar in challenging circumstances, both offering the architect a rare opportunity to helm projects richly entrenched in emotion, symbolism, and historical significance.

Now as his career moves beyond these two important projects, the architect’s connection to is beginning to play a pivotal role in his work. He moved there after his time at Cranbrook, when he was looking for new career challenges. Libeskind has been back in America since he was commissioned the Ground Zero project, but he recently opened up a studio in Milan, where he, his wife, and son oversee the firm’s forays in product design.

I caught up with Libeskind at his Lower Manhattan office overlooking Ground Zero to talk about Italy and his involvement in upcoming design fairs there, Milan Design Week and the Venice Architecture Biennale.

VIDEO: London From the Top of The Barbican, A Brutalist Icon

Recently voted the UK’s ugliest tower, The Tower is one of the three residential towers of the Estate, built between 1965 and 1976 in . Along with fourteen apartment blocks, the Barbican Estate contains 2014 flats, connected by a labyrinth of floating passageways and landscaped gardens. 

Designed by the architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, the Estate was part of a utopian vision of urban renewal and transformation of the city center after the Second World War. When it opened in 1982, Queen Elizabeth even referred to the high-end mega-complex as “one of the modern wonders of the world.” Though many Londoners despise the massive concrete megastructure, it is in fact a Brutalist masterpiece in the heart of London, a relic from a time of architectural coherence and uncompromised ambition.

Check out the incredible view from the Barbican Tower in the time-lapse above, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Tianjin Qiaoyuan Bridge Culture Museum / Sunlay

Courtesy of

Architects: Sunlay
Location: Tianjin,
Design Team: Zhang Hua
Area: 2,220 sqm
Year: 2008
Photographs: Courtesy of Sunlay

School Complex Buffon / TANK

Courtesy of

Architects: TANK
Location: Roubaix,
Architect In Charge: Olivier Camus, Lydéric Veauvy
Collaborating Architect: Franck Landrot
Area: 4160.0 sqm
Year: 2011
Photographs: Courtesy of TANK