The road between Nairobi and Mombasa is lined with, and virtually lit by, advertisements for the mobile phone companies that have entered the region—all promising new freedoms and economic opportunities. With their images of Masai tribesman in native dress phoning from a remote wilderness, the ads employ an essential trope of leap-frogging—the desire for a perfect collapse between technology and nature, tradition and modernity. The billboards express the enthusiasm of a world turned upside down in which not the developed but the developing world has their hands around a majority of the world’s cell phones.
Over the last 150 years, the ocean floor has been laid with thousands of miles of submarine cable of all types for telegraph, telephone, and fiber-optic infrastructure. In the nineteenth century, it took only thirty years for the British cable-laying companies to string the world with telegraph cable, and a little over a decade from the late 1980s to the late 1990s for most of the world to be connected to fiber-optic cable. Yet until recently, East Africa, one of the most populous areas of the world, had no fiber- optic submarine cable link and less than 1 percent of the world’s broadband capacity. A country like Kenya had to rely for its broadband on expensive satellite technology acquired in the 1970s that cost twenty to forty times its equivalent in the developed world. Before 2009, one Mbps (megabit per second) of bandwidth could cost as much as 7,500 US dollars per month against the world average of $200. The monthly cost of putting twenty-five agents on the phone was $17,000 a month instead of the $600–900 that it would cost in other developed countries.(1)
Awarded Special Mention "for its original concept and daring in thinking beyond the set bounds," OFIS Arhitekti's proposal for the Arvo Pärt Center, "MEIE AED" (Our Garden), is a combination of a pine tree, tree house, traditional house, nest, observatory, and floating bridge. A cultural center that incorporates a multitude of programs including concert space, archives, creative space, and a chapel, the building was conceived to converse closely with its forested natural surroundings.
"There are no real things. This is it. We are living in models and that's how it will always be and has always been... Who has authorship of reality? Who is then real?"
In this new video from Louisiana Channel, Olafur Eliasson meditates on the deeply philosophical questions posed by his provocative exhibition, Riverbed. Discussing themes such as the currency of trust, the authorship of reality through choice of perception, and the intricate relationships between museum, art, artist, and viewer, Eliasson sits within his own artificial landscape and recounts the deep inquiries that drive his work. Describing his views on the complexity of trust in the foundational value of the museum as an institution, Eliasson argues for the empowerment of the public. "If an audience feels trusted," he states, "then they dare to get involved."
In his latest 99% Invisible podcast, Roman Mars takes listeners to the edge of their seats (literally), as he tackles one of design’s unique challenges: the chair. From Van der Rohe to Gehry, Hadid, Libeskind and Corbusier, “if they’ve designed a big building, chances are they’ve designed a thing on which to sit,” begins Mars. Yet the complexity of chair design comes from the fact that a chair “disappears when in use...Chairs need to look fantastic when empty, and remain invisible (and comfortable) while in use,” states Mars. And with numerous recent studies showing the negative impacts of sitting too much, innovative chair design is now more important than ever.
Listen to the full podcast and check out some well-known chairs designed by architects after the break.
If a building could be thought of as the architect’s manifesto to construction, then the staircase can be seen as the designer’s autograph – a signature flourish that can embody the entire statement of design for a building in a singular structure. Staircases can be flamboyant or understated in design, from refined to rustic in their construction and traditional to unconventional in the materials from which they are built. Whatever their direction, all of the staircases in this collection make an announcement about the building, whether they are intended to subtly blend in with their surroundings or to attract attention and inspire.
This book is a collection of 39 of the most exceptional staircase designs produced across the world over the last ten years. Detail in Contemporary Staircase Design features photographs of the finished staircases alongside technical drawings, illustrating the design and construction of outstanding projects ranging from intricate domestic creations to imaginative public and commercial features and dramatic artistic statements. Each building in this book is conceived by an architect whose all-encompassing vision drives and informs the configuration of each structure, provides a concept that gives direction to the building’s appearance and solutions to each design problem. Every featured staircase should therefore be seen as the distillation of each designer’s approach, encapsulating the motivation and direction of the entire building design. The staircase can be considered as a microcosm of the building.
"Hey dad, when can I become an architect?" says Archie, son of eternally-frustrated architect Archibald, an animated architect who rarely wins an argument. "Architecture is not a final destination in time, it's a journey through life," Archibald says. His son's response: "Great! I love traveling! When can I buy the tickets?"
"arch." is a weekly online cartoon series by Mike Hermans, an Antwerp-based architect-cartoonist, that follows Archibald through the struggles architects know all-too-well: uncooperative models, angry clients, and periodic encounters with Tarzan, the jungle king. Archibald is a self-professed "visionary and romantic dreamer," while his business partner Gerald is the anti-creative in a constant struggle to ground Archibald's ideas in reality (hint: it doesn't go well). In "arch." study models have lives of their own, resisting modifications by the architect in favour of their own changes while meddlesome interns and junior architects attempt their own project modifications. Frank Gehry even makes a cameo appearance.
In an era in which architectural style is constantly recycled and reinterpreted, how do we know which ideas are original and which characteristics reveal deeper functions? In a recent article by Rowan Moore from The Guardian, architect Farshid Moussavi discusses fashion, function, and physical space as they relate to the concepts of her latest book The Functions of Style, which examines style in architecture beyond external appearance with a belief that style is rooted in a building's organizational ideas. Consequently, says Moore, each of Moussavi’s works are unique and do not rely on repeating trademark artistic moves. To learn more about how Moussavi’s philosophy is embodied in her most recent works, along with her belief in the power of physical space in a virtual world, read the full article on The Observer here.
French firm Thibaudeau Architecte & Agence d'Architecture Guiraud-Manenc has earned second place for a competition to design the new tourism office for "Les Pays de Fontenay le Compte France." Designed to encourage tourism in South Vendée, the design merges a contemporary style with a consideration for the historic and artistic identity of the area.
The criticism surrounding Al Wakrah has prompted us to look far and wide for the world’s most debated buildings. Could Al Wakrah be the most controversial building of all time? Check out ArchDaily’s roundup of nine contenders after the break.
Find out which buildings top our controversial list after the break
Berlin-based Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) has designed a 180-room hostel for the Bavarian Youth Hostel Association in Bayreuth, Germany. Designed for the sociable Generation Y traveler, the hostel offers an abundance of flexible public spaces featuring bright colours and soaring windows overlooking the Bavarian landscape. Touted by the firm as a "yardstick for the sports hostel of the future," the futuristic building includes modular furniture and universal step-free access throughout all facilities, grounds, and sports fields. Circulation for the design centres on a Y-shaped plan designed to maximize natural light light while providing ample opportunities for athletic engagement.
Find out more about Bayreuth's futuristic Youth Hostel after the break