Unlike most American cities, which spent the 20th century radiating out into suburbia, Los Angeles befuddles outsiders because it doesn’t really have a definite center. The phrase “LA” is loosely used to refer to a collection of small yet distinct cities across the Los Angeles basin that grew together over time. Traditionally, a handful of these localities have been the cultural centers and tourist destinations (Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Silverlake, etc). While these districts thrived, “downtown” sat largely neglected; its financial towers and retail spaces had severe occupancy issues for much of the 90’s and 2000’s. Ten years ago, downtown street life outside of working hours was virtually nonexistent.
That fate was largely the result of poor urban planning. The tragic destruction of the vibrant Bunker Hill residential neighborhood in the 1960’s created a series of vacant freeway-flanked “superblocks” intended for ugly, efficient modernist towers - many of which never reached fruition. To this day, the area is still plagued with empty lots. Developers and architects have considered downtown as a risky return on investment ever since.
DTLA wasn’t just the butt end of jokes (Family Guy: “There’s nothing to do downtown!”) it was treated with disdain. Even Frank Gehry said on record that he wished the Walt Disney Concert Hall had been constructed 12 miles away in Westwood (near UCLA). He went on to add that he felt the current attempted revitalization of downtown was: “both anachronistic and premature.” Ouch.
Since infrastructure is the embodiment of long-term investments, its impact in determining the organization of flows extends well into the future, both for developed and developing countries. Whereas the former are confronted with the need to maintain and renew highways, electrical grids, sewage systems, and the like, the latter are scrambling to meet the needs of their own expanding populations. In both cases, massive investments for retrofitting or for new infrastructure are key to sustaining the human habitat. This topic: “Infrastructure Space” will be the focus of the 5th International Forum for Sustainable Construction in Detroit, USA from April 7 to April 9, 2016.
The 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, directed this year by Alejandro Aravena, have revealed more information about the central exhibition and associated projects which will be on display at a press conference today in Venice. According to La Biennale, 'Reporting from the Front' will form one single show spanning the venues of the Arsenale and the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, featuring work from 88 participants from 37 countries. Of these, 50 will be presenting work for the first time and 33 are architects under the age of 40. "Reporting from the Front" will share work from Architects tackling issues relating to segregation, inequality, suburbia, sanitation, natural disasters, the housing shortage, migration, crime, traffic , waste, pollution, and community participation.
Detroit Resists has released a statement questioning the ambition of the US Pavilion’s “The Architectural Imagination” exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The exhibition consists of twelve teams of designers who will present newly speculative projects that can be applied not only to various sites in Detroit, but also to other cities around the world. Yet while the exhibition aims to understand Detroit’s political, social, economic, and environmental context so that “the power of architecture” can be of service to the community of Detroit, Detroit Resists’ statement claims that in the past this “architectural power” has been indifferent to the political context.
“This architectural power has been manifestly apparent in architecture’s recruitments against indigenous, impoverished, marginalized, and precarious communities across the globe, usually in the name of “development” or “modernization” in the second half of the 20th century,” reads the statement.
Drawing Futures, a new the international peer-reviewed conference on speculative drawing for art and architecture has launched a call for works.
The two-day conference will bring together some of the world’s leading practitioners in drawing for conversations about the contemporary cutting-edge and future directions using drawing as a critical tool for art and architecture.
In 2000, in a trial held in London, the notorious British Holocaust denier David Irving sued an American historian and her publisher for libel. He posited that the Holocaust didn't really happen – "was the planned and systematic murder of six million European Jews an elaborate hoax?" The battle over the meaning of the architectural evidence took centre stage. Ultimately, forensic interpretation of the blueprints and architectural remains of Auschwitz became crucial in the defeat of Irving, in what remains to date the most decisive victory against Holocaust denial.
The International Garden Festival has announced the five designs selected to be displayed at the 17th edition of the Festival at Les Jardins de Métis / Redford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Canada. The five winning gardens, selected from 203 projects submitted from 31 countries, will join previous years’ winners in the larger display of interactive spaces created by more than 85 landscape architects, architects, and designers.
One of many companies currently supporting the growing demand for Virtual Reality (VR), Sketchfab, known for being a “Youtube for 3D Models”, has added features to their website, allowing users to exhibit their work in VR. In this recent post, company CEO and co-founder Alban discusses the likelihood of a Virtual Reality renaissance in 2016. Comparing the platform to its predecessors in digital media, audio and video, he notes that the final steps for any new form of media are: easy to use, working technology; affordable interfaces; and user generated content, prefacing that 2016 may be the year that VR reaches this final step.
Concrete is one of the most widely innovated and improved upon building technologies in the world. With applications in both pre-fabrication and continuous pouring, the material has become a hot-bed for applications in fabrication techniques, from incredible, monolithic forms, to 3D-printing.
But behind all of the successes, there have been countless failures, including a well-intended innovation by famous American inventor Thomas Edison. Filed on August 13, 1908, Edison’s ill-fated patent was a home that could be built with a single pour of concrete, reports Slate. Although Thomas Edison had previous ventures in concrete, including a cement plant in Stewartsville, New Jersey, as well as several patented improvements in the cement-making process, his venture into concrete construction may have just been too ambitious.
Winner of the AWR International IdeasCompetition to design a new nursery school, “Nursery Fields Forever” reimagines what nursery schools could be like. Designed by a team from Italy, composed of Gabriele Capobianco, Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta, Jonathan Lazar, and Davide Troiani, the entry refutes the modern notion of shaping a child’s perception of the world based solely on urban environments, accepting children as being inherently curious naturalists. This trait is stimulated and guided to create a unique educational approach, holistically combining nature and food cultivation into its curriculum.