Iwan Baan has unveiled a new series of images depicting a snow-covered Harbin Opera House by MAD Architects and its surrounding landscapes. The northern Chinese city of Harbin is known for its brutal winters where temperatures can reach -22°F (-30°C). In the photographs, the Opera House's sinuous white aluminum cladding echoes the ice formed in the adjacent river. “Harbin is very cold for the most of the year,” says MAD principal and founder Ma Yansong. “I envisioned a building that would blend into the winter landscape as a white snow dune arising from the wetlands.”
As a Japanese immigrant who has spent much of her life in the United States, the architecture of Toshiko Mori occupies an interesting space: on one hand, the material and tectonic culture of Japan is, as she puts it, her “DNA.” On the other hand, her work clearly draws inspiration from the Modernists of 20th century America, and most notably from Mies van der Rohe. In this interview from his “City of Ideas” series, Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks with Mori (his former architecture professor) about materials, details, and the inspiration behind her work.
Vladimir Belogolovsky: You came to the US as a teenager with your parents from Japan in the 1960s. Were you interested in art early on back in Japan or was it something that you discovered already here?
Toshiko Mori: I was already interested in art as a child, always drawing, painting, making sculptures and models. I continued doing that here.
In a new film by NOWNESS, Dutch photographer Iwan Baan explains his process for photographing MAD architects’ Harbin Opera House in the northern region of China. The short documentary describes the power of architectural photography and how Baan aims to capture the present moment of a place, instead of creating a timeless scene.
Until recently, the architecture world largely viewed plastic polymers as inferior building materials, handy for wipe-clean kitchen surfaces, but not practical in full-scale building applications. But with technological innovations driving material capabilities forward, polymers are now being taken seriously as a legitimate part of the architect’s pallet. One of the most widely-used of these materials is a fluorine-based plastic known as ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). Brought into the public consciousness thanks to its use on the facade of PTW Architects' Water Cube for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, architects are now realizing the film’s capabilities to express a new aesthetic and replace costlier transparent and translucent materials.
In his new book Landscape as Urbanism, Charles Waldheim, the John E. Irving Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, argues that in order to understand the twenty-first century metropolis, “a traditional understanding of the city as an extrapolation of architectural models and metaphors is no longer viable given the prevalence of larger forces or flows. These include ruptures or breaks in architectonic logic of traditional urban form as compelled by ecological, infrastructural, or economic change.”
In other words, spatial constructions in urban environments should no longer be attached to intractable functions or intent on isolation, but should instead integrate into the fabric of the city. These types of projects must be flexible to the inevitable changes in functionality and purpose that are byproducts of economic change and evolutions in land-use intentions. The dozen projects featured here are exemplary of such practices, both in how they adapt to past interventions and in how they move beyond the notion of a static future for urban conditions that are perpetually in flux.
Zaha Hadid's sudden passing has led to an outpouring of heartfelt tributes from some of the profession's most prominent figures. A "brave and radical" trailblazer, and the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, Hadid's significant impact on the world of architecture is undeniable. She will be missed.
"We are all shocked and devastated that we lost Zaha today, a most beautiful individual, talent, leader and friend," Patrik Schumacher, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, wrote on Facebook.
We will continue to update this link as more tributes come in.
Over time, an endless spectrum of materials has become available for use within the realm of architecture. However, one material that seems underrepresented is plastic, a versatile and malleable compound that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. In light of the many applications of plastics in architecture, we have compiled a list of 12 projects that utilize plastic: from repurposing plastic bottles to the use of translucent plastic siding, these projects represent just a few of the many ways that plastic can be used as a primary material.
LocationWoodstock Rd, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6GG, UK
PartnersJacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ascan Mergenthaler (Partner in Charge)
The Architectural Review has announced the final winners in its 2016 Women in Architecture awards, awarding Mexican architect Gabriela Etchegaray with the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, and Jeanne Gang with the Architect of the Year award. In honoring Gang and Etchegaray, the AR noted that both "have demonstrated excellence in design and a commitment to working both sustainably and democratically with local communities." The pair join other Women in Architecture Award winners Odile Decq and Julia Peyton-Jones, who last week received the 2016 Jane Drew Prize and Ada Louise Huxtable Prize, respectively. Read on for more about the awards.
For a number of years now, Smart Cities and Big Data have been heralded as the future of urban design, taking advantage of our connected, technological world to make informed decisions on urban design and policy. But how can we make sure that we're collecting the best data? In this story, originally published on Autodesk's Line//Shape//Space publication as "'Array' of Possibilities: Chicago’s New Wireless Sensor Networks to Create an Urban Internet of Things," Matt Alderton looks at a new initiative in Chicago to collect and publish data in a more comprehensive way than ever before.
If it hasn’t already, your daily routine will soon undergo a massive makeover.
For starters, when your alarm clock goes off, it will tell your coffeemaker to start brewing your morning joe. Then, when you’re on the way to work, your car will detect heavy traffic and send a text message to your boss, letting her know you’ll be late. When you arrive, you’ll print out the agenda for today’s staff meeting, at which point your printer will check how much ink it has left and automatically order its own replacement cartridges.
At lunch, you’ll think about dinner and use your smartphone to start the roast that’s waiting in your slow cooker at home. And when you come home a few hours later, your house will know you’re near, automatically turning on the lights, the heat, and the TV—channel changed to the evening news—prior to your arrival. It will be marvelous, and you’ll owe it all to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Julia Peyton-Jones has won the 2016 Ada Louise Huxtable Prize. Awarded as part of the Architectural Review's (AR) annual Women in Architecture Awards, the prize honors Peyton-Jones' "incredible global impact achieved with limited resources – and as someone who has done so much to nurture architectural vision and make architecture available to many people."
Peyton-Jones has serves as the Serpentine Gallery co-director for the past 25 years, overseeing the start of the Serpentine Gallery Pavillon commissions and opening of Zaha Hadid Architects' Serpentine Sackler Gallery. She will step down from her longstanding position this summer.
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.
Nine Projects to be Highlighted in 'In Therapy', the Nordic Contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale
The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (ArkDes) have revealed that In Therapy: Nordic Countries Face to Face—the exhibition for the Nordic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, curated by David Basulto—will partly comprise "a contemporary survey of Nordic architecture." 300 projects, drawn from over 500 submissions to a recent open call, will be complemented by an in-depth study of nine projects completed post-2008 by practices including Tham & Videgård, Reiulf Ramstad Architects, and Lahdelma & Mahlamäki.
"Just as Sverre Fehn’s pavilion is a crystallisation of Nordic architecture—embodying a precise and fluid articulation of structure, light, and nature—the nine we have chosen to focus in on as particularly representative of the contemporary scene have a similar gravitas and complexity – but with their own distinct identities" says Basulto, who has made the selection alongside James Taylor-Foster, Assistant Curator.
Last week, ArchDaily unveiled the 14 winners of this year’s Building of the Year award. Selected by ArchDaily readers from a pool of over 3,000 candidates, these 14 projects represent the best designs published by ArchDaily in the past year, as determined by an unbiased network of 55,000 voters who took part - each of them a judge in one of the world's most democratic architecture awards.
Representing a diverse field of architects, locations and project types, each design has a very different story about how it came into being, how its design responds to its context, how it fits into an architect's oeuvre, or what it says about the direction which architecture is traveling in. But despite the many different types of story represented, each of the stories behind the Building of the Year winners is a fascinating architectural tale. Here are those 14 stories.
SelgasCano's Louisiana Hamlet Pavilion, designed in collaboration with Helloeverything, has been dismantled from its Copenhagen home and is set to be reconstructed in the sprawling Kibera slum, Nairobi, where it will begin a new life as a school. The structure, which is in transit to one of the largest slums in the country, will replace a dilapidated shelter which currently houses 600 pupils. The pavilion, originally commissioned by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Copenhagen), has been relocated following discussions between Iwan Baan, SelgasCano, the museum, and Second Home.
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.
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.
A 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."