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Architecture Documentaries To Watch In 2015

Following our top 40 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2014 and our favourite 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013, 2015 is no exception! Our latest round up continues to feature a fantastic range of films and documentaries telling the tales of unsung architectural heroes and unheard urban narratives from around the world. This entirely fresh selection looks past the panoply of stars to bring you more of the best architectural documentaries which will provoke, intrigue and beguile.

From a film which explores one man's dream to build a cathedral (#4) and a simultaneous history of and vision of Rotterdam's future (#7), to a tour of the world's last surviving squatter town in Copenhagen (#14) and A Short History of Abandoned Sets in Morocco (#16), we present - in no particular order - thirty freshly picked documentaries for you to watch in 2015.

"Ai Weiwei: According to What?"

Ai Weiwei, Cube Light, 2008. Photo: Cathy Carver.
Ai Weiwei, Cube Light, 2008. Photo: Cathy Carver.

“Cube Light” has made it’s debut in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, along with collection of Ai Weiwei most famous works in the retrospective “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”. Although one of China’s most prolific and provocative contemporary artists, Weiwei is best known in the world of architecture for his work with Herzog & de Meuron on Beijing’s famous “Bird’s Nest” and, most recently, the 2012 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. More images and information after the break…

One Week Left of the Serpentine Pavilion!

© Julien Lanoo
© Julien Lanoo

The summer months have come and gone, which means one thing: the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is winding to an end (on October 14th, to be exact)! This year’s underground pavilion was designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei as a kind of archaeological discovery of pavilions past. As they explain: “Like a team of archaeologists, we identify physical fragments as remains of the eleven Pavilions built between 2000 and 2011. […] These remains testify to the existence of the former Pavilions and their greater or lesser intervention in the natural environment of the park.” Although most of the public events that made up the Park Nights programme have already occurred (including a showing of the incredible documentary on Ai Weiwei and a talk by Herzog & de Meuron), you can still catch the culminating event of the Pavilion, the Memory Marathon (October 12-14), which kicks off with Lebanese sound artist Tarek Atoui performing La Suite. The three-day, multi-disciplinary festival will feature over 60 participants, including former REM vocalist Michael Stipe, filmmaker David Lynch (who will present a new film), and the Pavilion architects, Herzog and de Meuron themselves. For more info, check out our past coverage on the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Chinese Government Shuts Down Ai Weiwei's Design Firm

After 81 days of detention without cause, a year-long travel ban extended for claims of internet “pornography,” and a $2.4 million dollar fine imposed for supposed tax evasion, Ai Weiwei has now been accused by the Chinese government of failing to re-register his architecture design firm, Fake Cultural Development Ltd. According to Weiwei, the accusation, which will result in the company’s shutdown, is unfounded: because the government confiscated the documents necessary for registration during his tax evasion investigation, he couldn’t possibly have re-registered the firm. Weiwei, who you may know for his work on the Bird’s Nest and on this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, has openly spoken out against the Chinese government’s censorship (even publicizing the number of schoolchildren killed during the 2008 earthquake due to shoddy, corruption-fueled construction). It’s these kinds of dissident acts that have led to a “campaign of persecution to silence his activism.” Despite the escalating action taken against him, and imminent threat of arrest, Weiwei has vowed not to pay the fine that has been imposed on him. As he told Reuters: “If they shut down the company, then entities to pay any fine will not exist. I feel this waives any penalties for the company.” Story via the BBC, the WSJ, IOL News, and Reuters

Guesthouse / HHF architects + Ai Weiwei

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

Architects: HHF architects + Ai Weiwei Location: Ancram, New York, USA Design Team: Mio Tsunemaya, Madeleine Kessler, Jeff Mansfield Project Year: 2011 Photographs: Iwan Baan

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

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 / Photos by Danica O. Kus

© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus

Danica O. Kus shared with us her photographic work for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012. Designed by Herzog & De Meuron and Ai Weiwei, these photos give you a great insight into the overall feel and spatial qualities to the design. The half sunken in and water-covered structure starts to become a part of the landscape, as Kus is able to take the viewer inside and around the pavilion. You can check out more images after the break.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 / Photos by Julien Lanoo

© Julien Lanoo
© Julien Lanoo

Last week we presented the first images of the recently open Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by Ai Weiwei & Herzog & de Meuron in London, showing the half sunk and water-covered structure and its beautiful blending into the landscape. Today, Julien Lanoo shared with us these great images giving a better understanding of the spaces and its surroundings.

© Julien Lanoo © Julien Lanoo © Julien Lanoo © Julien Lanoo

You can check some more images after the break.

Video: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Grey Brick Galleries, Red Brick Galleries, Three Shadows Photographic Centre by Ai Weiwei at Cao Chang Di, Beijing

Red Brick Galleries
Red Brick Galleries

Architect: Fake Design, Ai Weiwei Location: Cao Chang Di, Beijing Photographs: Li Shi Xing, Andrea Giannotti Beijing urban expansion _ The fast and enormous urban development of Beijing has transformed the city into a metropolis made of suburban residential compounds, abandoned industrial plants, community housing blocks from the 70s-80s and popular self-grown villages. A mix of high rise residential areas, business districts, impressive infrastructures enclosing spontaneous house areas surviving the demolition and renovation dictated by the construction market. The population has grown from 1 to 18 millions in 60 years, and the size of the city has reached 5 times the ancient capital within the walls – the 2nd Ring Road. The urban expansion, mostly based on imported urban models and low quality constructions, has been exploding in the past 30 years, and it is rooted with political and economical decisions, as well as local culture and history. Briefly, Beijing is a stunning showcase of urban consequences happening in the world’s first growing economy, during an explosive industrial revolution.

Video: Ai Weiwei: Art / Architecture at Kunsthaus Bregenz

The work of Ai Weiwei was recently showcased at the Kunsthaus by Peter Zumthor in Bregenz, Austria. His collaborative work within the architectural arena was the main focus, filling all 3 floors with various projects. More after the break.