Iwan Baan

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Form Follows Fiction: Ole Scheeren’s TED Talk on Why Architecture Should Tell a Story

08:00 - 28 January, 2016

In his TED Talk filmed at TEDGlobal London in September 2015, Ole Scheeren eschews what he describes as the “detrimental straightjacket” of the modernist mantra “form follows function” in favor a phrase he attributes to Bernard Tschumi, “form follows fiction.” While Tschumi was referencing how cultural artifacts, such as literature, impact architecture, Scheeren reinterprets the phrase, imagining the stories of building users in order to inform the design process. Scheeren recounts, for example, how the daily activities of CCTV employees, the lifestyles of residents of a Singapore housing block, or the traditional tools of Thai fishermen have informed his various designs for OMA and Büro Ole Scheeren.

Of course, this “fiction” that Scheeren describes, these stories, are not really fictions at all, but the real experiences of the people who live or work in his buildings. In that sense, the fiction that drives his forms is really just another type of function, albeit a more human approach to function. Nevertheless, for Scheeren the stories of these designs goes beyond just the users, also encompassing the stories of the hundreds of people it takes to make such buildings a reality, and even how architecture can become a character in the narratives of our own lives.

It’s Elementary (Not): On the Architecture of Alejandro Aravena

09:30 - 25 January, 2016
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma

When reading about the work of Alejandro Aravena, it can sometimes seem like two distinct discussions: one about his widely praised social housing innovations, and another about his impressive (albeit more conventional in scope) buildings for universities and municipalities. In this post originally shared on his Facebook page Hashim Sarkis, the Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, connects the two apparently separate threads of Aravena's architecture, discovering the underlying beliefs that guide this year's Pritzker Prize winner.

Much of the work of Alejandro Aravena, whether designed alone or with the group ELEMENTAL, embodies a eureka moment, a moment where after a careful interrogation of the program with the client, the architect comes up with a counterintuitive but simple response to the charge. (For the computer center at the Catholic University, the labs have to be both dark and well-lit. For the social housing in Iquique, instead of a full good house that you cannot afford, you get a half good house that you can). In turn, these simple equations are embodied in buildings that usually acquire similarly simple forms. The clients and occupants repeat the “aha” with Aravena’s same tone and realization. “If I cannot convincingly convey the design idea over the phone, then I know it is a bad idea,” he says.

Las Cruces Lookout Point. Image © Iwan Baan Design for Casa OchoQuebradas. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh Quinta Monroy housing. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL +11

Exhibition at Chicago's Graham Foundation to Examine African Modernism

07:00 - 21 January, 2016
 Rinaldo Olivieri, La Pyramide, 1973, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). Image © Iwan Baan
Rinaldo Olivieri, La Pyramide, 1973, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). Image © Iwan Baan

new exhibition opening later this month at Chicago's Graham Foundation seeks to explore the complex history and legacy of modernist architecture in sub-Saharan Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. Architecture of Independence: African Modernism will feature nearly eighty buildings in commissioned photographs by Iwan Baan, Alexia Webster, and Manuel Herz. Alongside archival material, the exhibition "imparts a new perspective on the intersection of architecture and nation-building in Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Zambia and investigates some of the most compelling yet under-studied examples of 1960s and 1970s architecture worldwide."

2016 Pritzker Prize Winner Alejandro Aravena's Work in 15 Images

14:00 - 20 January, 2016
© Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma
© Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

Alejandro Aravena is the first Chilean architect to ever receive a Pritzker Prize. Praised for reviving the socially engaged architect, the 48-year-old architect and executive director of ELEMENTAL has proved architecture's ability to solve pressing global issues through his diverse portfolio. Read on to see 15 projects that exemplify Aravena's contribution to architecture so far. 

Spotlight: Thom Mayne

10:30 - 19 January, 2016
Emerson College Los Angeles. Image ©  Iwan Baan
Emerson College Los Angeles. Image © Iwan Baan

The principal architect of LA firm MorphosisThom Mayne was the recipient of the 2005 Pritzker Prize and the 2013 AIA Gold Medal, and is known for his experimental architectural forms, often applying them to significant institutional buildings such as the New York's Cooper Union building, the Emerson College in Los Angeles and the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters.

Alejandro Aravena Wins 2016 Pritzker Prize

09:10 - 13 January, 2016

Alejandro Aravena has been named as the winner of the 2016 Pritzker Prize. Highlighting his dedication to improve urban environments and to address the global housing crisis, the Pritzker Prize jury praised the way in which the Chilean architect has "risen to the demands of practicing architecture as an artful endeavor, as well as meeting today's social and economic challenges." Aravena is the 41st Pritzker Prize laureate and the first Chilean to receive the award.

At 48 years of age, Aravena has a large portfolio of private, public and educational projects in Chile, the USA, Mexico, China and Switzerland. But perhaps more notably, through his “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL he has managed to build 2,500 units of social housing, engaging in the public housing policies of governments where he works and taking an opportunistic approach to market forces to generate a powerful impact on lower-income communities.

"Alejandro Aravena epitomizes the revival of a more socially engaged architect, especially in his long-term commitment to tackling the global housing crisis and fighting for a better urban environment for all,” explained the Jury in their citation. “He has a deep understanding of both architecture and civil society, as is reflected in his writing, his activism and his designs. The role of the architect is now being challenged to serve greater social and humanitarian needs, and Alejandro Aravena has clearly, generously and fully responded to this challenge."

UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2014. Image © Nina Vidic Monterrey Housing. Monterrey, Mexico 2010. Image © Ramiro Ramirez Medical School, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2004. Image © Roland Halbe Siamese Towers, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2005. Image © Cristobal Palma +23

Shulman Home and Studio / Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

13:00 - 10 January, 2016
© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan +13

In Praise of the Glitch: WAA's Yinchuan Contemporary Art Museum

09:30 - 7 January, 2016
© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

In November, the Architectural Review concluded its search for this year's most promising young designers, awarding a total of 15 projects in its annual Emerging Architecture Awards. Selected by a jury comprising David Adjaye, Peter Cook and Odile Decq alongside AR Editor Christine Murray, these 15 projects included just one firm from China: WAA (We Architect Anonymous), whose Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) was commended by the judges. In this article, former associate member of Archigram Colin Fournier reviews the awarded building, showing an appreciation of WAA's work equal to - or perhaps even greater than - the award's jury.

This contemporary art museum is not what it seems. It appears, at first, to be a fairly familiar manifestation of the contemporary architectural discourse, and indeed the striking fluidity of its lines and its impressive mastery of parametrically-enabled tectonics as well as GRC technology put it on a par with recent buildings by Zaha Hadid or MAD, but this first impression is somewhat deceptive: the building is, in fact, refreshingly unique and a radical point of departure from the dominant design ideology of our times, a significant rupture from the orthodoxy. And a very promising one.

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan +12

The 20 Most Popular Projects of 2015

09:30 - 28 December, 2015

If there's one word that sums up our most popular projects of 2015, it's "diversity." The list features architects ranging from old favorites such as SANAA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and OMA down to newer names like Sculp[IT] and Tropical Space; it also includes everything from museums to multi-family housing and spa retreats to chapels - along with the usual smattering of private residences. Interestingly, this year's list also shows the symbiosis between great architecture and great photography, with no less than 4 projects also appearing in our most bookmarked images from this year's World Photo Day. But despite their diversity, there's one thing all of these 20 projects have in common: great architecture. So settle in, relax and read on - here's our 20 most popular projects of 2015.

UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

13:00 - 21 December, 2015
© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan +15

Architecture’s Most Inspiring Leaders, Projects & People in 2015

14:30 - 17 December, 2015

5,000 3D cameras to help preserve the architecture of a country torn by war; A team of Latin American architects that moved into Venezuela’s most dangerous neighborhoods in order to design and build with the community; A legendary architect who understood architecture’s relationship to the transformation of technology -- and whose projects have celebrated technology across a trajectory of multiple decades. These are the projects, initiatives and people who have proven to be leaders in 2015.

ArchDaily’s editorial team wanted to recognize these projects for their commitment to promoting practices in architecture that serve many, in all corners of the globe -- from Bolivia to London, from Chicago to Venice, from public spaces in favelas to projected drone-ports in Africa. These are the stories that have inspired us in 2015, and whose influence we hope to continue to see into 2016.

The 15 Best Articles of 2015

09:30 - 17 December, 2015

In 2015, we've focused on expanding ArchDaily's editorial content in a number of different directions. We've opened new avenues to bring high-quality architectural content to our readers - whether that's through our many fantastic publishing partnerships with organizations such as The Architectural Review and Metropolis Magazine, by working more closely with our sister sites in Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese to bring articles with a global outlook such as our article celebrating "The Best Student Work Worldwide," or by reaching out to people who have expressed strong opinions on our stories, as was the case when we published Mark Hogan's article "What’s Wrong With Shipping Container Housing? Everything."

We've also experimented with article formats, including a combined infographic and feature article in "7 Architects Designing a Diverse Future in Africa," two complementary articles to mark the first anniversary of MVRDV's Markthal in Rotterdam, and articles that amplify the voices of our readers in our AD Discussion series. And of course, we've also continued to bring our readers more traditional articles and interviews, with responses to trending debates such as Matthew Johnson's article "Architecture Doesn’t Need Rebuilding, It Needs More Thoughtful Critics" and standout examples of favorite series such as our AD Classics section.

With all of these developments, it was a challenge to narrow down a full year's worth of articles to just 15 shining examples. Read on to find out which lucky 15 made the cut.

Spotlight: Steven Holl

08:00 - 9 December, 2015
Linked Hybrid. Image © Iwan Baan
Linked Hybrid. Image © Iwan Baan

As the founder of Steven Holl ArchitectsSteven Holl is recognized as one of the world's leading architects, having received prestigious awards for his contributions to design over the course of nearly forty years in practice, including the prestigious Alvar Aalto Medal in 1998, the AIA Gold Medal in in 2012, and the 2014 Praemium Imperiale. In 1991, Time Magazine named Holl America's Best Architect. He is revered for his ability to harness light to create structures with remarkable sensitivity to their locations, while his written works have been published in many preeminent volumes, sometimes collaborating with world-renowned architectural thinkers such as Juhani Pallasmaa and Alberto Pérez-Gómez.

The Evolution of Radical Urbanism: What Does the Future Hold for Our Cities?

14:50 - 4 December, 2015
Metro Cable Caracas / Urban Think Tank. Image © Iwan Baan
Metro Cable Caracas / Urban Think Tank. Image © Iwan Baan

Earlier today in Shenzhen the 6th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) opened its doors to public. Under the overall theme "Re-Living the City," curators Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of Urban Think Tank headed up the "Radical Urbanism" exhibit in the main venue. Brillembourg and Klumpner invited the exhibition participants to show how we can learn from ad-hoc and "bottom-up" initiatives for alternative urban solutions. In the following essay - originally printed in the UABB 2015 catalogue - the curators call for us to "rethink how we can operate within the city, learn from its emerging intelligence and shap[e] its outcomes to radical and tactical ends."

The notion of a radical urbanism draws us unavoidably into the realm of the political. Imagining a more equitable and sustainable future involves an implicit critique of the spatial and societal conditions produced by prevailing urban logics.[1] As such, we are not only reminded of Le Corbusier’s famous ultimatum, “architecture or revolution,” but its generational echo in Buckminster Fuller’s more catastrophic pronouncement, “utopia or oblivion.”[2] Both were zero-sum scenarios born of overt social disjuncture, whether the deprivations and tensions of the interwar period, or the escalating conflicts and ecological anxiety of the late 1960s. While the wave of experimental "post utopian" practices that emerged in the early 1970s positioned themselves explicitly in opposition to perceived failures of the modern movement, these disparate groups shared a belief – however disenchanted – with their predecessors in the idea that radical difference was possible, as well as a conviction that a break was necessary.

Buckminster Fuller's Montreal Biosphere. Image © Flickr user rodmaia licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 The Plug in City by Peter Cook of Archigram. Image © Peter Cook via Archigram Archives Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower. Image © Arcspace Houses built using the Walter Segal system in South London. Image © Chris Moxley +9

Sea Pavillion / Stefano Boeri Architetti

03:00 - 4 December, 2015
© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Paolo Roselli © Iwan Baan +23

Paul Goldberger: "Frank Gehry Really Doesn’t Want To Be Remembered as Somebody Who Just Did a Few Iconic Buildings"

09:30 - 2 December, 2015
Guggenheim Bilbao (1997). Image © Ivan Herman (ivan-herman.net) licensed under CC BY-ND 3.0
Guggenheim Bilbao (1997). Image © Ivan Herman (ivan-herman.net) licensed under CC BY-ND 3.0

After he achieved celebrity status at the turn of the millennium, in recent years the conversation around Frank Gehry has switched tones, going from near-universal admiration to widespread controversy. Yet according to Paul Goldberger, whose biography of Gehry was released in September, both adoration and critique of the architect might engender an overly simplistic interpretation of his long and storied career. In this interview originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Q&A: Paul Goldberger on Frank Gehry's Life and Work," Goldberger delves into the many ways Gehry has been misunderstood over the years, and how his work, his psyche, and the interplay between the two have made him one of the most conversation-worthy architects of a generation.

Frank Gehry isn’t just the world’s foremost architect; he is, by all public standards, also one of our greatest living artists. Paul Goldberger’s new biography (his first), Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, acknowledges the architect’s celebrity status but doesn’t acquiesce in it. Rather, Goldberger interrogates the peculiar psyche and restless contradictions of the man to shed light on the motivations behind the architecture. Metropolis editor Samuel Medina speaks to the newly minted biographer about defying genre conventions, unpacking the ambiguities of Gehry’s work, and giving reporters the finger.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, 2003. Image © Gehry Partners, LLP The very first sketch Gehry made of the design for the Guggenheim Bilbao. Image Courtesy of Gehry Partners Fondation Loius Vuitton, Paris (2014). Image © Todd Eberle New World Center, Miami (2011) . Image © Wikimedia user Alexf licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 +10

House of the Sea / Stefano Boeri Architetti

02:00 - 2 December, 2015
© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan +22

Starting Your Own Practice: The Challenges and Rewards, According to ArchDaily Readers

11:20 - 1 December, 2015
Office of SelgasCano. Image © Iwan Baan
Office of SelgasCano. Image © Iwan Baan

Architecture is in some ways a paradoxical profession. On one hand, it projects a popular image of the lone, creative genius, taking control over all aspects of a building project and forming them to their creative ideals. But in reality, most projects take a huge team of people, all working together to produce a building which usually represents the creative input of not only many different people, but many professions too.

One way to find a balance between these two extremes is to take more creative control over the decisions of the group - in other words, to start your own practice, guided by your creative input alone. But is that goal worth the difficulty it might take to get there? This was the question we had in mind when we asked our readers to let us know the pros and cons of starting your own firm last month. Interestingly, not a single commenter left any response about the joys of working for someone else, and the consensus was firmly that running your own practice is preferable - provided you can deal with the significant problems of doing so. Read on to find out what they had to say.