EL CROQUIS 173 – MVRDV

Courtesy of El Croquis

EL CROQUIS, number 173, a monograph on MVRDV, is the third monograph produced by the publisher on this office established in Rotterdam. The current publication collects MVRDV‘s most significant works from 2003 to the present −presented in full with several construction plans, and a profusion of photographs and sketches. The monograph is prefaced by an interview with by the architects Charles Bessard and Nanne de Ru, and a critical essay on their work by Aaron Betsky.

Among the buildings and projects featured the most remarkable ones are the Gemini Residences, the Parkrand apartment building in Rotterdam, the rooftop house extension Didden Village in Rotterdam, the Balancing Barn holiday house in Thorington, the Book Mountain in Spijkenisse, the mixed-use centre Glass Farm in Schijndel and the shopping centre Chungha Building in Gangnam

Siemens HQ in Masdar City / Sheppard Robson

© Paul McMullin

Architects: Sheppard Robson
Location: Masdar City –
Area: 22800.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Paul McMullin, Huffton + Crow, Nicole Luettecke

Invisible Solar Harvesting Technology Becomes Reality

Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. Image © Yimu Zhao

Solar harvesting systems don’t need to be glaringly obvious. In fact, now they can even be invisible, thanks to researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) who have developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) that can be applied to windows or anything else with a clear surface.

LSC technology is nothing new, but the transparent aspect is. Previous attempts yielded inefficient results with brightly colored materials, and as researcher Richard Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and science at MSU, puts it, “No one wants to sit behind colored glass.” To learn how Lunt and the rest of the research team achieved transparency, keep reading after the break.

Vila Campo Belo House / DT Estúdio

© Carolina Ribeiro / Revoada Estúdio

Architects: DT Estúdio
Location: São Paulo – São Paulo,
Architect In Charge: Luis Felipe Bernardini, Thais Aquino Alves da Cunha, Marcelo Mesquita Nunes
Area: 110.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Carolina Ribeiro / Revoada Estúdio

What Gentrification Really Is, and How We Can Avoid It

Photo of Noe Valley, a low-density, high-income neighborhood, by Allan Ferguson

Gentrification is seen as a rising menace in many cities. The process whereby rich “gentrifiers” move into neighborhoods, driving up property prices and thus driving out those unable to afford those prices, has drawn criticism from activists and planners for years. However, this article by writer Annalee Newitz, first published by io9 as “This is What Gentrification Really Is“, tells us that the issue is not quite the struggle between good and evil that it first appears to be. Gentrification is a process dependent on economy, political climate, and the mercurial nature of itself – and sometimes fighting against it only serves to exacerbate the problem. Find out what we can do in the face of gentrification after the break.

S Gallery & Residence / Shinichi Ogawa & Associates

Courtesy of Shinichi Ogawa & Associates

Architects: Shinichi Ogawa & Associates
Location: Mie Prefecture,
Area: 173.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Courtesy of Shinichi Ogawa & Associates

Fernando Guerra Captures Álvaro Siza’s First Project in China

© |

We are excited to share these exclusive photos taken by Fernando Guerra | FG+SG of Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza’s first project in China: The Building on the Water.

Evoking the image of a dragon perched elegantly on water, the contours of the building seem to move gently in a perfect synergy between local symbolism and the subtle elements of Siza. Snaking around, the form escapes formal convention, emerging as an autonomous entity that contrasts with the orthogonal form of the factory complex. The delicate transition geometry of curves and bridges that connect the different spaces and pavements makes this project one of the most striking examples of Siza’s distinctive architecture. 

Through different shades, reflections and his unmatched composition of light and shadows, Fernando Guerra’s striking images show a poetic scene and the perfect relationship between the building and its environment. We can envision the changes and transitions that the white concrete building goes through as a result of its contact with the water throughout the day.

Read on after the break to see the exclusive images…

Turkey Orders Demolition of Three ‘Illegal’ Residential Towers

Image via istanbulucuyorum.blogspot.co.uk

The Turkish Council of State has ruled that the OnaltiDokuz Residence, a trio of towers between 27 and 37 stories tall in Istanbul‘s Zeytinburnu district, must be demolished in a landmark ruling that could have major ramifications for the country’s planning system.

As reported by Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian, the Turkish Council of State ruled that the development “negatively affected the world heritage site that the Turkish government was obliged to protect,” possibly in reaction to comments made by UNESCO in 2010, who threatened to put the city on its list of endangered world heritage sites.

Read on after the break for more on the ruling

PWFERRETTO Propose an “Active Monument” as Seoul’s Seosomun Memorial Park

Memorial Wall. Image Courtesy of / ESOU Architects

PWFERRETTO, a practice split between London and Seoul, have won second place in a competition to design the National Park and Memorial in the Republic of Korea’s capital. In materialising the boundary of the site into an “active monument” that reconnects the forgotten history of the park into “a memorial for the Catholic martyrs who lost their life fighting for their beliefs,” the design hinges around the site’s constant struggle between belonging and being excluded from the city it is a part of. This paradoxical “inclusive / exclusive” premise is the starting point for the designers’ conceptual approach.

Chang Ucchin Museum in Yangju / Chae-Pereira Architects

© Park Wansoon

Architects: Chae-Pereira Architects
Location: Gyeonggi-do,
Area: 1650.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Park Wansoon, Thierry Sauvage

The Berlage Archive: Elia Zenghelis (2001)

In this 2001 lecture titled “Architecture is Propaganda,” seminal architect, educator, and co-founder of OMA Elia Zenghelis discusses the development of ideologies that shape architectural discourse vis-a-vis architectural education. Arguing that architectural education is motivated by religious, socio-political, and economic principles, Zenghelis makes the case that the war-torn 20th century has been an era of upheaval and conflict, resulting in the loss of historical context and a confused state for artists and architects. Proposing the idea that architecture is a servant of power, and is thus intrinsically intertwined with political and societal trends, Zenghelis urges a return to a contextualized understanding of architectural history in order for contemporary architects to develop a sensitive and nuanced approach to their practice. 

Discussing his relationships and collaborations with former students and colleagues Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Peter Eisenman, as well as the political and architectural legacy of such giants as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, Elia Zenghelis provides a compelling conversation about the inherent role of architecture in political discourse.

Don’t miss the other lectures in The Berlage Archive series

Extension in Casablanca / Ricardo Atanacio Balbontin

© Aryeh Kornfeld

Architects: Ricardo Atanacio Balbontin
Location: , Chile, , Valparaíso Region, Chile
Project Area: 90.0 m2
Project Year: 2013
Photography: Aryeh Kornfeld

Torcuato House / BAK arquitectos

© Inés Tanoira

Architects: BAK arquitectos
Location: Malvinas Argentinas Partido – Buenos Aires Province,
Area: 273.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Inés Tanoira

Les Bébés Cafe & Bar / JC Architecture

© Kyle You

Architects: JC Architecture
Location: , Taiwan
Area: 178.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Kyle You

RMJM Designs Fish-Inspired Tower Clad with Aluminum Scales

View from Below. Image Courtesy of RMJM

RMJM‘s Shenzhen studio has just been awarded the contract to build a 93 metre public inspired by the importance of water in the historic Doumen District, Guangdong Province, China. Perched at the confluence of two rivers, the Doumen Observation Tower will rise from the waterfront of the Zhuhai, and is inspired by the form of a fish soaring above the water, clad in aluminum scales to protect from the hot Chinese sun. The tower will occupy a minimal footprint and will be surrounded by a large public plaza.

Check out the complete specs of Doumen Observation Tower after the break. 

Western-styled developments are increasingly popular in China, such as this suburb of Shanghai. Image © Flickr CC User Brian Yap
Western-styled developments are increasingly popular in China, such as this suburb of Shanghai. Image © Flickr CC User Brian Yap

The Chinese Dream: Original Architecture Not Included

Looking for your dream home? Picket fence, driveway (sedan included), basketball net, and terracotta pots complete with flowers in bloom, available now in the quiet neighbourhood of Rancho Santa Fe in ShanghaiChina. According to this article in The Guardian, ”The Chinese Dream” is currently sweeping the People’s Republic, with Western planning models replicated with identical ineffective results. The article offers an intimate insight into the role of American architectural fetishism in modern China, and how the government is now fighting to curb the trend. Read the complete article here

Wine Terrace and Spa / Gereben Marián Architects

© Zsolt Frikker

Architects: Gereben Marián Architects
Location: Eger, Almagyar, 3300
Architect In Charge: Péter Gereben, Balázs Marián
Design Team: Gergely Álmos, Péter Mészáros, Tamás Mezey, Kálmán Nyilas
Area: 230.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Zsolt Frikker, Dávid Lukács, Balázs Marián

Rem Koolhaas Sheds Light on Lagos

In this interview conducted by the Brigtje van der Haak maker of the documentary Lagos Wide & Close, Rem Koolhaas discusses his research on the urbanization of Nigeria‘s largest city, Lagos. While this research is as yet unpublished, Koolhaas discusses external influences on the city’s architecture, how his visits have affected his view of the profession, and Lagos’ future potential. The documentary by van der Haak, released on DVD in 2004, is an interactive exploration of Lagos from a multitude of scales. Now, it has been adapted for the web, and can be viewed in its entirety here!