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Iwan Baan


Spotlight: Rem Koolhaas

With the extensive list of acclaimed alumni of his firm, OMA, it is not a stretch to call Rem Koolhaas (born 17 November 1944) the godfather of contemporary architecture. Equal parts theorist and designer, over his 40 year career Koolhaas has revolutionized the way architects look at program and interaction of space, and today continues to design buildings that push the capabilities of architecture to new places.

ArchDaily Readers Debate: Brands in Architecture and BIG's Business Success

Awards season is in full swing in the architecture world, with - among others - the World Architecture Festival and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat recently handing out prizes for the best new buildings worldwide (OMA + Ole Scheeren's Interlace and Stefano Boeri's Bosco Verticale, respectively). However, it has been relatively quiet in our comments section; are we to assume that there are few strong objections to these winners?

Nevertheless, a quiet period doesn't mean there weren't some great discussions had in the comments over the past two weeks, with opinions shared on the success of BIG, the problem of negativity in architecture, and more. Read on to find out what our readers had to say.

SL11024 / Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan

The Business of Design Success: How did BIG Get So... Big?

In recent years, the ever-increasing profile of Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG have been hard to miss. For an office that is barely 10 years old, the number and scope of their projects is astonishing; to cope with demand, the firm has grown to employ almost 300 people. This growth, though, did not happen by accident. In this article, originally published on DesignIntelligence as "The Secret to BIG Success," Bob Fisher speaks to the firm's CEO and Partner Sheela Maini Søgaard in order to uncover the business plan behind the BIG phenomenon.

BIG may be the most appropriately named firm on the planet.

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) seems to have an outsized impact in all it does. The Copenhagen-based design firm turns conventions and assumptions upside down and combines contrasting possibilities in outrageously bold, imaginative and playful ways. Projects like Via at West 57th Street in New York City and the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen are prime examples: the first a pyramid-shaped apartment building that defies the forest of rectangular towers around it, and the second a power plant that doubles as a smoke ring-blowing ski slope.

The world has taken note. Whether in praise or criticism, the architectural, cultural and business media tend to strike a heroic tone when describing the firm’s work: radical, ambitious, bold, confident. In short…BIG.

Danish National Maritime Museum, Helsingør. Image © Rasmus Hjortshøj Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium, Hellerup. Image © Jens Lindhe 8 House, Copenhagen. Image © Dragor Luftfoto Two World Trade Center in New York. Image © DBOX, Courtesy of BIG

A Parametric Devotion: Patrik Schumacher Discusses "Architecture and Freedom" at the Royal Academy

For its fall season of architecture events, the Royal Academy’s working theme is “Architecture and Freedom: a changing connection,” in a program conceived and organized by Architecture Programme Curator, Owen Hopkins. One of these events was a recent lecture by Patrik Schumacher, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, and ardent promoter of Parametricism. In his lecture, what starts out with a brief exercise in damage control over the barrage of criticism recently endured by the firm, emerges as an impassioned discussion of architectural politics, design philosophies, and social imperatives.

2015 LEAF Awards Announced

Overall Winner: Ribbon Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co. Ltd. Image Courtesy of LEAF International
Overall Winner: Ribbon Chapel / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co. Ltd. Image Courtesy of LEAF International

The winners of the 2015 LEAF Awards have been announced. Founded in 2001, the awards ceremony honors innovative architecture projects in 13 different categories dedicated to various aspects of building, including best façade design and engineering, best future building, and public building of the year.

Find out which projects won the awards, after the break.

OMA and Ole Scheeren's Interlace Named World Building of the Year 2015

OMA and Buro Ole Scheeren's vertical village in Singapore, The Interlace has been named the World Building of the Year 2015 at culmination of the World Architecture Festival (WAF). Celebrated for being "an example of bold, contemporary architectural thinking," as WAF Director Paul Finch described, the project is eighth building to ever win the illustrious award. It is considered to be a "radical new approach to contemporary living in a tropical environment."

Winners of the year's Future Project, Landscape, Small Project and Color Prize awards were also announced. Read on to see the who won with comments from the jury. 

What Are the Benefits of Starting Your Own Architecture Firm Over Joining an Existing One?

For many architects, owning their own firm is the dream which drives their career. In a field such as architecture, the idea of having the freedom to seek out the projects you most want to do and the creative freedom to make the final decision on a design sounds like the ideal way to work. And yet, ask any successful firm founder and they'll probably tell you that owning your own architecture business doesn't live up to such a romantic notion, and takes a lot of hard (non-design) work to be successful. In the recession of recent years, many found this out the hard way, becoming self-employed out of necessity and having to get creative about how exactly they make their money.

Iwan Baan in Conversation with Jonathan Glancey

Iwan Baan was twelve years old when he received his first camera and, "within a week, [he] had traded it in for a better one." He is one of the most well-known and highly sought after architectural photographers in the world, recognised for shooting cities from above and for always highlighting people (occupation) in his images. In a short interview with Jonathan Glancey Baan is the first to state that he "doesn't know much about architecture" — something which has not inhibited his ability to produce some of the most successful photographs of the built world, and how we design, construct and occupy it.

Spotlight: Zaha Hadid

Pritzker prize-winning architect, fashion designer and artist Zaha Hadid (born 31 October 1950) has become one of the most recognizable faces of our field. Revered and denounced with equal aplomb for the sensuous curved forms for which she has become known, Hadid rose to prominence not solely through parametricism but by designing spaces to occupy geometries in new ways. Today, her work continues to push boundaries both creative and technological, and her fearless media presence has cemented her place in society as a woman who needs just one name: Zaha.

Serpentine Director Julia Peyton-Jones Steps Down After 25 Years

Julia Peyton-Jones has announced her plan to step down as the Serpentine Gallery director in the summer of 2016. During her 25-year lead, Peyton-Jones oversaw the start of the Serpentine Gallery Pavillon commissions and opening of Zaha Hadid Architects' Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

"There is never a good time to leave an institution but I wanted to leave the Serpentine at a time of strength and success," said Peyton-Jones, as reported by the Architects' Journal

Ground Control: How Concrete Reshapes Our Relationship to the Earth

Concrete has long had a close relationship with the earth; as the favorite material for the creation of building foundations, one of its most common uses is effectively as a more reliable replacement for soil. In the twentieth century, concrete’s ability to transform our interaction with the ground was taken to the next step. As architects and engineers explored the opportunities offered by a combination of reinforced concrete and the modernist mindset, multiple attempts were made to replace the ground in a more dramatic way: by creating a new ground, separated from the earth itself. Most widespread among these plans was the engineer’s elevated highway which emerged worldwide, and the most relevant to architects the “streets in the sky” embodied by developments such as the Smithsons’ Robin Hood Gardens. Newcastle-upon-Tyne offers a city-wide example of this theory, embarking on an ambitious plan to become the “Brasilia of the North” by creating an elevated network of pedestrian routes entirely separated from the automobiles below - though the project was abandoned in the 1970s with only small sections implemented.

After Modernism’s dramatic fall from grace in the 1970s and 80s, this project to reinterpret the ground with concrete was largely forgotten. Of course architects still used concrete in their designs, but they were content with a purely traditional relationship to the ground: their buildings were discrete entities which sat upon the earth, and nothing more. However, as explored at length in Stan Allen and Marc McQuade’s 2011 book Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain, recent years have shown architects willing to work upon the ground once again, in new and exciting ways. In the years since Landform Building’s publication, this trend has only intensified, as demonstrated by the following three projects.

Santa María de los Caballeros Chapel / MGP Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Image © Andrés Valbuena Heydar Aliyev Center / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Hélène Binet Mulini Beach / Studio 3LHD. Image © Joao Morgado Santa María de los Caballeros Chapel / MGP Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Image © Andrés Valbuena

Sou Fujimoto's Buildings Serve as Inspiration at Paris Fashion Week

At this year’s Paris Fashion Week, Switzerland-based fashion house Akris showed its 2016 Spring/Summer Collection -- an assembly of garments based on the work of Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

Akris’ creative director, Albert Kriemler, was introduced to Fujimoto by photographer Iwan Baan while working on the Université Paris-Saclay. From a stance of admiration, Kriemler was thus influenced by Fujimoto’s work: "We share a vision to create an effortless relation between the body and the environment with utmost simplicity. Sou Fujimoto is an architect who understands that we have more senses than just the eye," said Kriemler

The Power of Photography: How Images Continue to Shape the Built Environment

In a culture dominated by smartphones and Instagram, with estimates that over one trillion photographs will be taken this year alone, it might seem impossible for photographs to make and shape issues in the ways they once did. Despite this, images still steer debates with shocking resiliency and, with luck, become iconic in their own right. As architecture is synonymous with placemaking and cultural memory, it is only logical that images of the built environment can have lasting effects on the issues of architecture and urbanism. It's never been easier for photographs to gain exposure than they can today, and with social media and civilian journalism, debates have never started more quickly.

Critics Take On "The State of the Art of Architecture" in Chicago

An image from Iwan Baan's Chicago photo essay. Image © Iwan Baan
An image from Iwan Baan's Chicago photo essay. Image © Iwan Baan

Last week, the Chicago Architecture Biennial opened to over 31,000 visitors and much fanfare, and for good reason - it is the largest architecture event on the continent since the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, featuring over one hundred exhibitors from over thirty countries. With a theme as ambiguous as "The State of the Art of Architecture," and with the hope of making the biennial, according to directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, "a space for debate, dialog and the production of new ideas," the event was sure to generate equally wide-ranging opinions. Read on to find out what the critics had to say about the Biennial.

Happy World Architecture Day!

Created by the Union International des Architects (UIA) in 2005, World Architecture Day is celebrated on the first Monday of October with the aim of reminding the world about the collective responsibility of architects in designing our future cities and settlements.

This year, the UIA has selected “Architecture, Building, Climate” as the theme of the day, seeking to highlight the essential role that architecture, design and urbanism have in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. With international climate treaty negotiations set to happen later this year, the “UIA members, working bodies and partners will mobilize on 5 October to promote actions and solutions that apply the enormous power of architecture and urban design in coping with global climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Through small actions architects can collectively make a big difference and create significant changes. To celebrate World Architecture Day, we have rounded up a selection of projects that have taken steps towards the challenge of protecting our environment.

When the Strange Meets the Familiar: Saunders Architecture on Fogo Island

Fogo is a small, rocky outcrop off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, with a population of just over 2000 people. Its sub-arctic natural landscape of lakes, rivers and mountains is interspersed by eleven small settlements and has now become the scene for a collection of follies, studios and residences designed by Norwegian practice Saunders Architecture. Most recently, Fogo's rocky wilderness and contemporary architectural interest—reminiscent of the land around Todd Saunders' current home city of Bergen—has been captured in a one-hour documentary film directed by Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight, entitled Strange & Familar: Architecture on Fogo Island.