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Iwan Baan

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Why China's President Says "No More Weird Buildings"

The President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for an end to the "weird buildings" being built in China, and particularly in the nation's capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA's CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.

With China's construction boom being one of the most talked about features of today's architecture scene - and many a Western practice relying on their extravagant projects to prop up their studios - the Chinese leader's comments have the potential to affect the landscape of architectural practice worldwide. But what is behind these sentiments? Read on after the break to find out.

Fondation Louis Vuitton / Gehry Partners

  • Architects: Gehry Partners
  • Location: Bois de Boulogne, 75016 Paris, France
  • Design Partner: Frank Gehry
  • Area: 11700.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Iwan Baan, Todd Eberle

© Todd Eberle © Todd Eberle © Todd Eberle © Todd Eberle

The High Line's Final Chapter is Complete; But Don't Close the Book Just Yet

With the opening of the final section of New York's High Line last month, the city can finally take stock on an urban transformation that took a decade and a half from idea to reality - and which in the five years since the first section opened has become one of the great phenomena of 21st century urban planning, inspiring copycat proposals in cities around the globe. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "The High Line's Last Section Plays Up Its Rugged Past," Anthony Paletta reviews the new final piece to the puzzle, and examines what this landmark project has meant for Manhattan's West Side.

The promise of any urban railroad, however dark or congested its start, is the eventual release onto the open frontier, the prospect that those buried tracks could, in time, take you anywhere. For those of us whose only timetable is our walking pace, this is the experience of the newly opened, final phase of the High Line. The park, after snaking in its two initial stages through some 20 dense blocks of Manhattan, widens into a broad promenade that terminates in an epic vista of the Hudson. It’s a grand coda and a satisfying finish to one of the most ambitious park designs in recent memory.

Callous Indifference or Fetishizing Poverty: What Exactly Can Architects Do About Slums?

In an excellent essay for the Architectural Review, Charlotte Skene Catling deftly ties together a number of recent debates in the field of morality in architecture, from the false accusations aimed at Zaha Hadid by critic Martin Fuller to recent debates over whether architects have any responsibility to tackle poverty, an ostensibly political issue. Taking aim at one article in particular - in which Dan Hancox argues that architects such as Urban Think Tank who engage in humanitarian work are often 'fetishizing poverty' - Catling dissects the work of many of those in the field to find that they in fact do vital work to connect the top-down and bottom-up approaches that would otherwise never meet in the middle. Or, as Urban Think Tank's Alfredo Brillembourg says, in opposition to the horizontal city of the 19th century or the vertical city of the 20th, "the 21st century must be for the diagonal city, one that cuts across social divisions." Click here to read the article in full.

Take a Walk on the High Line with Iwan Baan

View looking west along one of the Rail Track Walks. Image © Iwan Baan, 2014 (Section 3)
View looking west along one of the Rail Track Walks. Image © Iwan Baan, 2014 (Section 3)

Sunday marked the completion of the New York City High Line, a three-phased project that transformed the once disused elevated rail tracks on Manhattan’s West Side into one of the world’s most respected public parks. With the first section opening in 2009, architectural photographer Iwan Baan has been documenting the entire process. Now, for the first time we present to you a photographic journey through the completed High Line designed by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Take a look, after the break.

Diébédo Francis Kéré and Architectural Energy in Burkina Faso

"Architecture is much more than art. And it is by far more than just building buildings" says award winning Burkina Faso architect Diébédo Francis Kéré. In the latest video from Louisiana Channel, Berlin-based Francis Kéré deliberates on the purpose of architecture in a changing society and the influence exerted by his home nation, Burkina Faso. For Kéré, context and medium are key: "I try to use local material: mostly clay and wood, to create buildings that are modern," he says. Kéré's clay modernism represents a new Burkina Faso, using natural and renewable materials as shown in School Library Gando. "If we build with clay we will have a better future, because we will use the resources we have," he adds. 

"My people are proud, and that can deliver a lot of energy," says Kéré, optimistic for the future of architecture in Burkina Faso. Watch the video above to find out more about Kéré's approach to his European-based African practice, and read on after the break for ArchDaily's own Interview with Kéré from July.

Five Buildings Compete to be Named "World's Best Highrise"

Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Jean Nouvel and Boeri Studio are the masters behind five skyscrapers competing to be crowned the “World’s best.” Chosen as finalists for the 2014 International Highrise Award (IHA), the four practices are in the running for a prestigious title and €50,000 prize. 

Award organizers from the City of Frankfurt/Main, Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and DekaBank at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche will announce a winner in mid-November. The chosen skyscraper will be selected by an esteemed, multidisciplinary jury based on the criteria ranging from future-oriented design and innovative building technology, to the building’s integrative urban development scheme and cost-effectiveness. 

“Good architecture requires a willingness to take risks and a desire to try things out. All the finalists took this approach – there can be no innovation without experimentation. Our shortlist comprises three different prototypes of the future,” commented Jury Chairman Christoph Ingenhoven.

View all five of the competing highrises and the jury’s comments, after the break… 

The Conflict Between the Global North and South at the 2014 Venice Biennale

“Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 is an invitation to the national pavilions to show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in architecture in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language and a single repertoire of typologies.” In this article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as "Whose Modernity?", Avinash Rajagopal investigates the conflict this mandated theme at the 2014 Venice Biennale unintentionally created between the Northern and Southern pavilions - with Northern pavilions tending to declare sole ownership over Modernism and many Southern pavilions denying that their countries were passive recipients of the North's globalization. For more on how the Southern pavilions challenged the typical conveyance of architectural history, continue reading after the break.

World Photo Day: Iwan Baan by Steven Holl

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked 15 architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Steven Holl writes on behalf of Iwan Baan

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

Spatial Relations Take Centre Stage in MoMA's Newest Architectural Exhibition

What influence do art and space have on the contemporary architectural design process? MoMA's most recent exhibition on architecture and design Conceptions of Space strives to answer this question. Themed under the umbrella of spatial relations, Curator Pedro Gadanho ruminates on the subject in a broad and philosophical sense. The exhibition delves into the topic using an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating research from French philosopher Michel Foucault on the subject of the expanded field. The exhibition aims to explore the relationship between the development of space and its deep-seated roots in the creative arts. 

Video: Inside Steven Holl's Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art

Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Spirit of Space, have created two short films of the recently completed Seona Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art. The film series explores the complementary contrast of the new Reid Building and Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1909 building (which recently suffered a devastating fire), where "each work of architecture heightens the integral qualities of the other."

The first film takes the viewers on a "poetic climb" up and through the building's social circuit, which "purposefully encourages inter-disciplinary activity, with the hope to inspire positive energy for the future of art." The second film unpacks the design of the Reid Building in a conversation with design architects Steven Holl and Chris McVoy.

Urban Think Tank Responds to the Forced Eviction of Torre David Residents

Following yesterday's news story about the forced eviction of the thousands of inhabitants living in Venezuela’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world's tallest vertical slum, Urban-Think Tank has issued a statement. The group, which spent two years researching the remarkable urban space for their Golden Lion-winning Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2012, has spoken with residents and hopes to provoke the architectural/design communities by adding their voice to the debate. Read the full statement, after the break. 

Village Health Works Staff Housing / Louise Braverman

  • Architects: Louise Braverman
  • Location: Burundi
  • Architect in Charge: Louise Braverman FAIA
  • Area: 6000.0 ft2
  • Photographs: Iwan Baan

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

Library and Learning Centre University of Economics Vienna / Zaha Hadid Architects

  • Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Location: Vienna, Austria
  • Partners in Charge: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher
  • Project Architect: Cornelius Schlotthauer
  • Construction Project Team: Enrico Kleinke, Markus Planteu, Vincenco Cocomero, Peter Irmscher, Katharina Jacobi, Constanze Stinnes, Peter Hornung, Frédéric Beaupère, Mirjam Matthiessen, Marc-Philipp Nieberg, Tom Finke,Kristoph Nowak, Susanne Lettau, Jahann Shah Beyzavi, Florian Goscheff, Daniela Nenadic, Judith Wahle, Rassul Wassa, Julian Breinersdorfer, Nastasja Schlaf, Muhammed Patat, Elisabeth Dirnbacher
  • Competition Project Team: Cornelius Schlotthauer, Marc-Philipp Nieberg, Enrico Kleinke, Kristoph Nowak, Stefan Rinnebach, Romy Heiland, Richard Baumgartner
  • Area: 28000.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Roland Halbe, Iwan Baan

Model. Image  © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Roland Halbe

ArchDaily Editors Select: Our Favorite Projects in the USA

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate the USA's Independence Day, our editors have selected their favorite projects located in the USA, from architecture classics to extraordinary newcomers. Enjoy them all, after the break!