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Puddle-Free Parking: New Absorbent Surface Swallows Water Instantly

Perhaps the only material on the architectural market known for its "thirst," ultra-porous concrete is being hailed as the future of urban water runoff management for warm climates. The emerging material reached mainstream popularity in recent weeks thanks to a viral video depicting an apparently ordinary car park absorbing an inordinate amount of water; 1.2 million views later, the video has ignited debate on viability and possible uses for water-absorbent concrete. 

Ultra-porous concrete is gaining a foothold thanks to extensive research being conducted by architects and engineers around the world. Known for its rainy climate, daring use of innovative materials and unorthodox architecture, it comes as no surprise that the Dutch city of Rotterdam has embraced water-absorbent concrete for testing.

Courtesy of Rainaway Courtesy of Rainaway Courtesy of Rainaway Courtesy of Rainaway

Is There a European Identity in Architecture?

“There is a certain tradition, history, and continuity that you can read in European architecture”
- Spela Videcnik, OFIS arhitekti

A product of context and history, Europe has influenced the architecture world in a way that perhaps no other continent has. The continent is the topic of the latest video from the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, produced in relation to their European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, in which prize-nominated architects from 16 European cities are interviewed on what they believe brings them together, and what makes them different.

As a US citizen who has previously lived in Europe for two years, I was struck by the essential question prompted by the video: “Is there a European identity in architecture?” And if so, what exactly is it? To try to answer this question, I sat down with ArchDaily’s managing editor Rory Stott - a Brit - to debate differing perspectives.

2015 Prize Winner - Philharmonic Hall Szczecin / Barozzi / Veiga. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gym Hall TNW / NL Architects. Image © Luuk Kramer Metropol Parasol / J. Mayer H + Arup. Image © Javier Orive 2013 Prize Winner - Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects & Batteriid Architects. Image Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Campus of the National Sports Center of La Defense / Barthélémy & Griño

© Arnaud Schelstraete © Arnaud Schelstraete © Arnaud Schelstraete © Arnaud Schelstraete

What It’s Like to Be an Architectural Consultant for Assassin’s Creed II

In the following article, originally published in Spanish on MetaSpace as "Assassin's Creed 2 - Arquitectos que hacen videojuegos"(Architects Who Make Video Games), Spanish architect Manuel Saga interviews María Elisa Navarro, a Professor of Architectural History and Theory, who worked with Ubisoft Montreal as a historical consultant on the design team for the video game Assassin's Creed II, from the first rough drafts up to its launch in November of 2009.

While getting her PhD at McGill, María Elisa Navarro was a consultant for the entire development process of the game as part of a research project between the university and Ubisoft Montreal. She worked on the project in complete secrecy with "a small team of 20 people and then later more than 400 in a huge basement in Montreal." Navarro worked on everything from late 15th century wardrobes to the correction of architectural errors in the recreated cities, going over the look and ornamental details of the buildings.

"Sometimes, for gameplay purposes, they needed to have walls with a lot of texture so that Ezio could climb them, but when the time came to lay those parts out, there were some inaccuracies. For example, I remember a balcony with a wrought iron railing that couldn't have existed in that time period. I was responsible for detecting those issues," Navarro noted in her conversation with MetaSpace.

Read the full interview with Navarro after the break.

Ezio Auditore da Firenze jumping from four story buildings. Image © Ubisoft Montreal Scene from Assassin’s Creed II. Image © Ubisoft Montreal Carnival in Venice: wardrobes and masks. Image © Ubisoft Montreal Welcome (sic) to Venecia. Image © Ubisoft Montreal

Video: Walking with CVDB

Portuguese production company Building Pictures has shared with us their most recent video: Walking with CVDB. The film follows a woman as she journeys through various projects by CVDB Arquitectos, including the Braamcamp Freire Secondary School, the Arraiolos Tapestry Museum, the Jarego House, the Elderly Day Care and Residential Centre and the Cartaxo Cultural Centre. 

The route is organized by the themes that have shaped CVDB’s design in recent years, such as public space, transitional space, visual continuity and materiality. In this way, Building Pictures uses the themes to connect the different spaces featured in the video. 

Tanatorium / Juan Carlos Salas

  • Architects: Juan Carlos Salas
  • Location: El Burgo de Ebro, 50730 Zaragoza, España.
  • Designer: David Leciñena
  • Area: 196.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Diaporama

© Diaporama © Diaporama © Diaporama © Diaporama

Monocle 24 Reports From Bilbao to Explore Issues Facing City Leaders

For this edition of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team visit BUILD: the Bilbao Urban Innovation and Leadership Dialogues. This event gathers civic leaders and philanthropists to a discourse about how cities are, and should be, run. In this two-part broadcast from the conference itself, Monocle explore how Stuttgart have been accommodating an unprecedented number of refugees, how Poland is using transport infrastructure to revitalise the city of Łódź, how Pittsburgh is a poster-city for resilience, and why Atlanta wants its citizens to take charge of their city.

Master Series: Michael Bierut

School of Visual Arts honors designer, critic and educator Michael Bierut with the 27th annual Masters Series Award and Exhibition. “The Masters Series: Michael Bierut” is the first comprehensive retrospective of the designer’s work, and features groundbreaking logos, graphics and exhibition designs as well as personal works from his own collection. The exhibition will be on view from October 6 through November 7 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor, New York City.

Notariaat 2.0 - Continuous Landscape / Atelier Vens Vanbelle

© Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde

TBZ Cologne / SSP SchürmannSpannel

  • Architects: SSP SchürmannSpannel
  • Location: Hugo-Eckener-Straße 16, 50829 Köln, Germany
  • Project Team SSP: Thomas Schmidt, Heiner Blum, Marius, Scheffer, Marcel Behrens, Markus Fleißgarten, Christoph Nowakowski, Giuseppe Battaglia
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Jörg Hempel Photodesign, Robert Mehl

© Jörg Hempel Photodesign © Robert Mehl © Jörg Hempel Photodesign © Robert Mehl

Prof. Mutsuro Sasaki Final Lecture Series

An expert in shell structures and a pioneer of the morphogenesis in the field of architecture and civil engineering, Mutsuro Sasaki is a professor at Tokyo's Hosei University. He is also one of the founders of Sasaki Structural Consultants since 1980 and of SAPS / Sasaki and Partners since 2002. In extending the research work of Antoni Gaudi, Heinz Isler and Frei Otto, Sasaki's work has helped shape contemporary architecture in Japan and other countries. Mutsuro Sasaki is a long-standing structural engineers of Toyo Ito, Sejima and Nishizawa of SANAA, and of Arata Isozaki.

Primary School & Nursery in the “Claude Bernard” ZAC / Atelier d’Architecture Brenac & Gonzalez

© Sergio Grazia © Sergio Grazia © Sergio Grazia © Sergio Grazia

Yinzhou City Investment Office Building Renovation / DC ALLIANCE

  • Architects: DC ALLIANCE
  • Location: Ningbo, Zhejiang, China
  • Design Team: Cui Zhe, Zhu Jiasheng ,Xu Jialiang ,Zhang Ye
  • Client: Yinzhou City Investment
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Courtesy of DC ALLIANCE

© LV Hengzhong © LV Hengzhong © LV Hengzhong © LV Hengzhong

Ishibe House / ALTS Design Office

  • Architects: ALTS Design Office
  • Location: Shiga Prefecture, Japan
  • Architect in Charge: Sumiou Mizumoto & Yoshitaka Kuga
  • Area: 119.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Courtesy of ALTS Design Office

Courtesy of ALTS Design Office Courtesy of ALTS Design Office Courtesy of ALTS Design Office Courtesy of ALTS Design Office

Educational Park of Venecia / FP arquitectura

© Alejandro Arango © Alejandro Arango © Alejandro Arango © Alejandro Arango

BIG Designs New Apartment Building in Stockholm

Oscar Properties has unveiled a collaborative project with BIG that will bring 140 new apartments to Stockholm's Gärdesfältet area. The project, 79 & Park will be comprised of a mountainous stack of prefabricated wood-clad units that are designed to "harmonize" with the neighboring Royal National City Park. Lush terraces, connecting to units that range from one to six bedrooms, aim to soften the "boundary" between park and building.

St. Georges / Randy Bens Architect

© Ema Peter © Ema Peter © Ema Peter © Ema Peter