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The Machine in the Ocean: On The Petropolis of Tomorrow

Clocking in at just under six hundred pages, Neeraj Bhatia and Mary Casper’s The Petropolis of Tomorrow (Actar, 2013) presents a series of dueling monstrosities—land and sea; ecology and industry; isolation and circulation—at the hard-edged site of their collision. The product of an intensive research studio directed by Bhatia at the Rice School of Architecture, Petropolis documents and explores Brazil’s rapidly developing network of offshore petroleum and natural gas drilling infrastructures as a site ripe for the deployment of architectural expertise and imagination. Conducted as part of a broad collaborative research investigation on resource extraction urbanism initiated by the South America Project (SAP), the studio, as introduced by SAP Co-Director Felipe Correa, is a speculative experiment that “tests an extreme scenario” with the aim of identifying “new hybrids between industry and urbanism for an alternative twenty-first century extraction town.” Complementing the studio work, the editors have marshaled an impressive array of text and photo contributors whose essays offer distinctive takes on the book’s three thematic threads: archipelago urbanism, harvesting urbanism, and logistical urbanism.

Bracket 2: Goes Soft

From the Publisher. Bracket 2 examines physical and virtual soft systems, as they pertain to infrastructure, ecologies, landscapes, environments, and networks. In an era of declared crises—economic, ecological and climatic, amongst others—the notion of soft systems has gained increasing traction as a counterpoint to permanent, static and hard systems. Acknowledging fluid and indeterminate situations with complex feedback loops that allow for reaction and adaption, the possibility of soft systems has re-entered the domain of design. Bracket 2 critically positions and defines soft systems through 27 projects and 12 articles. From soft politics, soft power and soft spaces to fluid territories, software and soft programming, Bracket 2 unpacks the use and role of responsive, indeterminate, flexible, and immaterial systems in design.

Collserola Park Competition Entry / Nabito Architects + ACTAR

Nabito Architects + ACTAR shared with us their design proposal for the “Les Portes de Collserola” international competition held by the government of Barcelona. As a finalist, the architects were challenged to create an ambitious strategical plan to regenerate the entire Park of Coillserola in the North of the city. The architects were then selected to take part in the 4B door called: ‘LES PLANES IN-PARK UNA PORTA, VÀRIES CLAUS’. The Project is a Master plan for the re-interpretation of one of the doors from Collserola Mountain going into the city of Barcelona. It is a space in between a complex superposition of different elements: urban, natural, rural and infrastructural. The perfect mix to ordinate the territory for a contemporary project. More images and architects’ description after the break.

A Peripheral Moment

This book is an account of the highly productive decade of architectural experimentation in Croatia lodged between the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and their slow integration into the EU. Ivan Rupnik guides the reader through the emergence of this bizarre and fascinating architectural scene on the very edge of united Europe, utilizing Ljubo Karaman’s theory of the periphery as a distinct space of artistic production from that of the center or province, Manfredo Tafuri’s concept of architectural experimentation, as well contemporary notions of agency.

Back in 2009 we went to Croatia to see this architecture scene first hand, and we featured many of the projects presented in this book, that you can check out on our list of Croatian projects before you buy this book. Further info and photos after the break.

The Function of Form / Farshid Moussavi

The book is the result of a series of seminars Moussavi taught over 2 years at the GSD, and in over 500 pages it describes the most common material systems and its sub-systems: Grids and Frames, Vaults, Domes, Folded Plates, Shells, Tensile Membranes and Pneumatic Membranes.

Each of these systems are presented first on its most basic unit, which is then tessellated into three  directions (horizontal, vertical, curved) exploring the full potential of these combinations, either trough completed buildings, proposals or just proposed structures by the author and her team.

For example, the Diagrid (interconnected support beams that form a diagonal grid) one of the systems included in the book, starts with the basic unit (as seen on a photo below) with a description of the forces and how flexible the system is in terms of scale, angles, depth, profile, etc. Then, it is described in its horizontal tessellations exemplified through the Smithsonian Reynolds Center for American Art by Foster + Partners, the Milan Fair Center by Fuksas, or the Great Court at the British Museum by F+P. On the vertical, we have 30st Mary  Axe by F+P, the Hearst Tower by F+P, the Lotte Super Tower Hotel by SOM, Elisabeth House by FOA and even the Glass Pavilion by Bruno Taut, among others.  Every example has very good drawings and explanations (see photos below).

Also, the matrix incorporates affect, defined by Deleuze “as the pre-personal intensities transmitted by forms”, ranging from freedom to centrality, and other several terms that further extend our conception of these systems.

This exercise, starting from the basic unit and then expanded according to its possibilities, repeated in a rigorous matrix for all the systems, makes this book a valuable resource for almost everyone: from students, to architects who need to deal with a structure in early stages of design, up to someone dealing with parametric tools for complex structures, because at the end the systems are the same: from Bruno Taut to SOM, to FOA.

More info after the break.