“The city for the people!” is the familiar rallying cry of the reformist architect - but which people, exactly? That’s the question at the heart of rooftopping, a new and thrill seeking variant of Urban Exploration which has recently captured the attention of the media. Spreading via social media outlets such as Instagram, the stunts draw attention by design, but why has coverage of the form of Urban Exploration climbed to such great heights?
Urban exploration has been at the fringes of the public consciousness since the mid 2000s as a form of punk sub-culture; anarchists poking around in sewer tunnels and proto-pinterest ruin exploration (although unsurprisingly the habit of people breaking into abandoned, closed off or normally inaccessible buildings dates back much, much farther). The way rooftopping has captured the public imagination, though, is as a form of public discourse: how it meshes with social media, the way corporate groups have attempted to market stunts, and the way these groups are interacting with the urban environment.
SO-IL, in collaboration with FREAKS freearchitects, has been selected as the first-prize winner of a competition to reinvent the historic Site Verrier in France. Located in the Northern Vosges Natural Park, the updated plan addresses three elements of the site's industrial past while providing a dynamic space for cultural interaction and historic exploration of Site Verrier's glass factory days.
Between 1945 and 1981 around 170 million prefabricated (prefab) residential units were constructed worldwide. Now, as part of a study undertaken by Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile between 2012 and 2014, an exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art features 28 large concrete panel systems from between 1931 and 1981.In so doing, it explores a transnational circulation of these objects of construction, "weaving them into a historical collage of ambitions and short-lived enthusiasm for utopian dreams."
This show, curated by Meira Yagid-Haimovici, is an attempt to reveal "how architecture and urbanism was charged with historical, social, and political narratives, and how the modernist vision promoted the fusion of aesthetics and politics." The models, which are being exhibited as part of the Production Routes exhibition, seek to highlight the richness embodied in 'generic' architecture through the lens of prefab construction methods.
At the end of 2014, we had the opportunity to catch up with Xiaodu Liu, one of the three founding partners of Chinese firm URBANUS. Telling us about the role of architects in today's society - especially in China - he discusses how the creativity which URBANUS is known for plays a part in the business of their practice: "Innovation is actually everything for URBANUS, because the firm is doing projects for very challenging jobs. That's the only way we do marketing; we have to do something creative, otherwise we don't have any marketing tools to get something more conventional... we push ourselves to the limit."
Connected to this, he sees intellectual exchange as the foundation of their success, a mechanism that has allowed them to eschew more traditional marketing: "We have some people similar to us, that are well connected, people understand our work and support our work and they like us. Then we have that network and people refer to us and they actually bring jobs to us... networking is more like in the academic level - a more intellectual exchange."
Watch the full interview above and check out our past coverage of URBANUS below.
The City of Paris has approved MVRDV’s plans to overhaul a 1970s urban block in Montparnasse. The ambitious plan aims to “reintroduce the human scale” and improve “accessibility and programmatic identity” to the aging mixed-use development. As part of the restructuring, the building’s existing public library, hotel, commercial and office space will be expanded and a new kindergarten, conference center and social housing units will be added.
Minimalism has its challenges and for this seven-year-old sibling of two, it’s not for children. Nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 87th Academy Awards, Me and My Moulton captures the unconventional life and struggles of three kids with modernist architect parents. Watch the trailer above and see what director Torill Kove believes are five sure signs your parents were architects, after the break.
Update: The five finalists for the 2015 Mies van der Rohe Award will be announced on February 25 at 12 UTC. 40 projects from 17 European countries have been shortlisted for the 2015 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. Chosen from the 420 original nominees, five of the shortlisted projects will be chosen for the next round of selection, to be announced at the end of February in London. These selected architects will then present their projects before a committee on May 7, who will select one recipient of the highly esteemed international design award, as well as one recipient of the Emerging Architect Prize. The winners will be announced the following day at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona.
OMA has unveiled plans for a mixed-use project that will consolidate facilities for the growing, selling and distribution of food for local farmers in Louisville. A collaboration with the non-profit Seed Capital Kentucky, the 24-acre “Food Port” will transform a former tobacco plant into an “active economic and community hub” that shapes a “new model between consumer and producer.”
“The diversity of program reflects the full food chain, as well as a new foodscape of public spaces and plazas where producers and consumers meet,” said OMA’s Partner-in-Charge Shohei Shigematsu, who is also leading the Alimentary Design research studio at Harvard University. “The Food Port acts as a catalyst to activate the surrounding neighborhoods, exemplifying one of the complex urban relationships between architecture and food that our studio is investigating.”
The expandable campus, which is expected to break ground this summer, will include an urban farm, edible garden, market and food truck plaza, retail space, classrooms, a recycling facility, and more. Continue after the break to learn more.