Visiting architectural masterpieces by the greats can often feel like a pilgrimage of sorts, especially when they are far away and hard to find. Not everyone takes the time to visit these buildings when traveling, which makes getting there all the more special. With weird opening hours, hard-to-reach locations and elusive tours we thought we’d show a selection from our archives of masterpieces (modernist to contemporary) and what it takes to make it through their doors. Don’t forget your camera!
Ada Louise Huxtable once described him as “a poet who happens to be an architect.” Italian architect Aldo Rossi (3 May 1931 – 4 September 1997) was known for his drawings, urban theory, and for winning the Pritzker Prize in 1990. Rossi also directed the Venice Biennale in 1985 and 1986—one of only two people to have served as director twice.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (27 March 1886 – 17 August 1969) is one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, known for his role in the development of the most enduring architectural style of the era: modernism. Born in Aachen, Germany, Mies' career began in the influential studio of Peter Behrens, where Mies worked alongside other two other titans of modernism, Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. For almost a century, Mies' minimalist style has proved very popular; his famous aphorism "less is more" is still widely used, even by those who are unaware of its origins.
As the dust settled following the Second World War much of Europe was left with a crippling shortage of housing. In Milan, a series of plans were drafted in response to the crisis, laying out satellite communities for the northern Italian city which would each house between 50,000 to 130,000 people. Construction the first of these communities began in 1946, one year after the end of the conflict; ten years later in 1956, the adoption of Il Piano Regolatore Generale—a new master plan—set the stage for the development of the second, known as 'Gallaratese'. The site of the new community was split into parts 1 and 2, the latter of which was owned by the Monte Amiata Società Mineraria per Azioni. When the plan allowed for private development of Gallaratese 2 in late 1967, the commission for the project was given to Studio Ayde and, in particular, its partner Carlo Aymonino. Two months later Aymonino would invite Aldo Rossi to design a building for the complex and the two Italians set about realizing their respective visions for the ideal microcosmic community.
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, or simply Oscar Niemeyer, was one of the greatest architects in Brazil's history, and one of the greats of the global modernist movement. After his death in 2012, Niemeyer left the world more than five hundred works scattered throughout the Americas, Africa and Europe. Niemeyer attended the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro in 1929, graduating in 1934. He began working with the influential Brazilian architect and urban planner Lúcio Costa in 1932, a professional partnership that would last decades and result in some of the most important works in the history of modern architecture.
The Futuro House looks more like an alien spacecraft than a building. Designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968 as a ski chalet, the radical design was subsequently marketed to the public as a small prefabricated home, easily assembled and installed on virtually any topography. Its plastic construction and futurist aesthetic combined to create a product which is identifiable with both the future and the past.
In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school in 2019, Harvard Art Museums has released an online catalogue of their 32,000-piece Bauhaus Collection, containing rarely seen drawings and photographs from attendees and instructors of the revolutionary German design school.
The collection features work from the likes of Mies van der Rohe, Bertrand Goldberg, Marcel Breuer, and Bauhaus-founder Walter Gropius himself, and can be navigated through a search bar and an easy-to-use set of filters, allowing you to categorize work by topic, medium, date or artist.
AD Classics are ArchDaily's continually updated collection of longer-form building studies of the world's most significant architectural projects. Here we've rounded-up ten groundbreaking residential projects from this collection, ranging from a 15th century Venetian palazzo to a three-dimensional axonometric projection. Although some appear a little strange, all have been realised and have made lasting contributions to the wider architectural discourse. You can study residential cubes, spheres and inverted pyramids—plus projects by the likes of OMA, Álvaro Siza, and Richard and Su Rogers—after the break.
The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (commonly referred to as UNESCO) has named 17 projects in 7 countries by revolutionary Modernist architect Le Corbusier to their list of World Heritage Sites. Given to places of special cultural or physical significance, the designation will help to protect and preserve the buildings for future generations. Citing Le Corbusier’s inventive architectural language, UNESCO praised the collection of projects for “[reflecting] the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society.”
“The inscription on the World Heritage List of 17 buildings of sites by Le Corbusier represents a strong encouragement to continue all along Le Corbusier's built work to maintain this living heritage and to hand it down to future generations,” said Fondation Le Corbusier President Antoine Picon in a statement. “It also contributes to the understanding of that complex and fragile legacy and helps its dissemination to the widest audience.”
Continue after the break for the full list of projects and images.
World Expos have long been important in advancing architectural innovation and discourse. Many of our most beloved monuments were designed and constructed specifically for world’s fairs, only to remain as iconic fixtures in the cities that host them. But what is it about Expos that seem to create such lasting architectural landmarks, and is this still the case today? Throughout history, each new Expo offered architects an opportunity to present radical ideas and use these events as a creative laboratory for testing bold innovations in design and building technology. World’s fairs inevitably encourage competition, with every country striving to put their best foot forward at almost any cost. This carte blanche of sorts allows architects to eschew many of the programmatic constraints of everyday commissions and concentrate on expressing ideas in their purest form. Many masterworks such as Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion (better known as the Barcelona Pavilion) for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition are so wholeheartedly devoted to their conceptual approach that they could only be possible in the context of an Exposition pavilion.
To celebrate the opening of Expo Milano 2015 tomorrow, we’ve rounded up a few of history’s most noteworthy World Expositions to take a closer look at their impact on architectural development.
To celebrate the first anniversary of our US Materials Catalog, this week ArchDaily is presenting a three-part series on "Material Masters," showing how certain materials have helped to inspire some of the world's greatest architects.
Mies van der Rohe, famous for his saying “less is more,” was one of the preeminent modernist architects, well known for pioneering the extensive use of glass in buildings. His works introduced a new level of simplicity and transparency, and his buildings were often referred to as "skin-and-bones" architecture for their emphasis on steel structure and glass enclosure. In addition to Mies van der Rohe, glass was a major influence for many architects of the modernist movement and reshaped the way we think about and define space. Today, glass has become one of the most used building materials, but its early architectural expression is perhaps best exemplified in the works of Mies.
In Berlin, Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie has begun a new phase today with the opening of David Chipperfield’s intervention, a prologue to the imminent restoration which the famed British architect is about to undertake. Completed in 1968, the gallery was Mies’ last project and his final masterpiece; for nearly fifty years, nobody dared to touch it - until now. Marking this event is a large, site-specific installation, created by Chipperfield as an attempt to engage Mies in a spatial experiment (or perhaps a last, apologetic tribute to the 20th century master) moments before he is about to embark on a mission which will, inevitably, transform Mies’ ultimate legacy.
Derelict urban landscapes and abandoned spaces have always attracted adventurous explorers, searching for a peek into the world of a fallen industrial dystopia. That desire can be fulfilled by a visit to the Zollverein complex in Essen, Germany: once Europe’s largest coal mine, Zeche Zollverein was transformed over 25 years into an architectural paradise. Contributions by Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and SANAA are included in the 100-hectare park; overwhelming in its complexity, the estate includes rusty pipes, colossal coal ovens and tall chimneys, inviting over 500,000 people per day to gain an insight into the golden age of European heavy-industry.
Join us for a photographic journey through this machine-age playground, after the break…
In a cultural capital like Berlin, where ‘pop-up’ stores appear in abandoned warehouses, local brands emerge from stores over-run with squatters, and nightclubs rave in power plants, it is only appropriate that an art gallery would find its home in a nearly indestructible concrete vessel. Such is the case with the “Berlin Bunker” in the heart of the fashionable “Mitte” district.
Monolithic and symmetrical, decorated only by thin strips of vertical windows on its four identical facades, this former Nazi air-raid shelter stands as a relic of Germany’s past. Yet a closer look beyond its sharp-edged cornice reveals something unexpected: luscious green gardens and a luxurious penthouse, completed in 2007. This is the home of Christian Boros, the art collector whose private collection is stored and exhibited in the depths of the fortified bunker below.
Responding to Rem Koolhas’s theme of “Absorbing Modernity," OfficeUS, the US's National Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, launched as an experimental architecture firm with a mission to revisit, rethink and re-evaluate one thousand American architectural projects from the last century. The Giardini Pavilion was transformed by New-York based firm Leong Leong into a multi-functioning and interdisciplinary office, run by the six “partners" who were hand-picked for the job. Assigned with the ongoing task of producing models, drawings, and engaging in workshops and lectures throughout the duration of the Biennale, the partners and their collaborators in Venice and around the world attempt "to construct an agenda for the future production of architecture."
Focused mainly on exported architecture, the projects vary from nuclear plants to US embassies, residential typologies and museums and are lined on the pavilion’s walls within research booklets, available for the use of the partners and the public.
Care to join in? Check out 15 of the projects investigated by OfficeUS, after the break…
The following article was originally published on Medium.
On a perfect autumn morning Rem Koolhaas parks his black 1998 BMW along an Amsterdam canal. It’s not really a sports car, but rather the racing model that a child would draw. Moments later, he is placed behind an impressive desk. This is to be a normal working day. Not in his Rotterdam offices though. Today he deals with his appointments in an Amsterdam hotel. Does that sometimes, more efficient. But this morning, a journalist has been in front of him for more than half an hour. And the guy is saying what?
‘Just about everyone responds the same when I mention your name: He’s a very unpleasant man, right?’
Halfway this remark Koolhaas leans back and moves away from the desktop.
He rocks back and forth.
And he nods.
Stuttering he says something like: ‘Yeah, that happens, yes. With people, yes.’
He seems embarrassed, even a little ashamed.
Outside assistants, clients, projects, calls about million dollar projects on different continents are waiting, but here, his head is so nude… those little ears that stick out to the sides… Can you describe a man of six feet tall as resembling a little injured bird?
Not much more comes out of him. The conversation is over.
MVRDV, in cooperation with the Belgian furniture label Sixinch, have designed a playful furniture series that imagines an antidote to the sprawled, generic urban growth of East Asia's mega-cities. Each of the 77 large cushions in “Vertical Village” - currently on display at Milan's Design Week - take the form of small, densely-packed houses, colorful alternatives to the horizontal, block-like residential buildings that currently dot East Asia's skylines. From the exhibition:
"The Vertical Village - observation of the uncontrolled growth of Asian cities, which has lead to the disappearance of urban villages on a human scale, prompts the designers to develop a livable city model that promotes upward growth: a vertical village composed of small residential nuclei that ensure human relationships and, at the same time, leave room for green areas and gathering places. The installation is composed of 77 large cushions in the form of small houses, all different.”
Many architects enter the profession with hopes of creating something that outlives them, something that is bigger than themselves, that can advocate for a better world. Oscar Niemeyer was such an architect, one who fought for designs that would serve everyone. The master of Brazilian architecture passed away one year ago after complications from a previous kidney condition. In honor of what would have been his birthday today, we’ve rounded up a few of his masterpieces, from his elegant and curvy Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, his collaboration on the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the traditional spectacle space of his Sambadrome, the spiraling Niemeyer Center in Aviles, and the powerful parabolic expression in his Cathedral of Brasilia. Enjoy!