Architecture Documentaries To Watch In 2015

Microtopia (2013) / Jesper Wachtmeister

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 (#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.

AR Issues: Architects Don’t Invent, They Transform

Courtesy of

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this editorial from AR’s February 2015 issue, AR Editor Catherine Slessor reflects on Álvaro Siza‘s ouevre, from his early work in Évora to his latest effort in China. Though the latter is admittedly elegant, Slessor concludes that in comparison to his older transformative designs the recent incarnation of “brand Siza” is a “predictable triumph of style over content.”

The great Portuguese Modernist Fernando Távora once remarked “Style is not of importance; what counts is the relation between the work and life, style is only the consequence of it.” His friend and protégé Álvaro Siza echoed this sentiment when he said: “Architecture does not have a pre-established language nor does it establish a language. It is a response to a concrete problem, a situation in transformation, in which I participate. In architecture, we have already passed the phase during which we thought that the unity of language would resolve everything. A pre-established language, pure, beautiful, does not interest me.”

Álvaro Siza Says ArchDaily’s Building of the Year Award Provides “Strong Incentive” for Profession

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Speaking to the Portuguese communication agency Lusa, Álvaro Siza Vieira, winner of the 2015 Building of the Year Awards‘ office category, stated that the international award is a “strong incentive” to continue working in the architectural field.

Siza’s awarded building – named The Building on the Water – is located in Huai’na, Jiangsu Province (China), and was designed together with Portuguese architect Carlos Castanheira for the company Shihlien Chemical Industrial Jiangsu Co.

Showing gratitude for the acknowledgement, Siza highlighted that the building process went as planned, without any drawbacks, and client Mr. Por-Shih Lin contributed a lot with the project. “I use to say the building’s owner is the first architect and without his effort it’s nearly impossible to get satisfying results,” said Siza, the first Portuguese Pritzker laureate. 

The 14 Stories Behind the 2015 Building of the Year Award Winners

With our annual Building of the Year Awards, over 30,000 readers narrowed down over 3,000 projects, selecting just 14 as the best examples of architecture that ArchDaily has published in the past year. The results have been celebrated and widely shared, of course, usually in the form of images of each project. But what is often forgotten in this flurry of image sharing is that every one of these 14 projects has a backstory of significance which adds to our understanding of their architectural quality.

Some of these projects are intelligent responses to pressing social issues, others are twists on a well-established typology. Others still are simply supreme examples of architectural dexterity. In order that we don’t forget the tremendous amount of effort that goes into creating each of these architectural masterpieces, continue reading after the break for the 14 stories that defined this year’s Awards.

Winners of the 2015 Building of the Year Awards

After two weeks of nominations and voting, we are pleased to present the winners of the 2015 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards. As a peer-based, crowdsourced architecture award, the results shown here represent the collective intelligence of 31,000 architects, filtering the best architecture from over 3,000 projects featured on ArchDaily during the past year.

The winning buildings represent a diverse group of architects, from Pritzker Prize winners such as Álvaro Siza, Herzog & de Meuron and Shigeru Ban, to up-and-coming practices such as EFFEKT and Building which have so far been less widely covered by the media. In many cases their designs may be the most visually striking, but each also approaches its context and program in a unique way to solve social, environmental or economic challenges in communities around the world. By publishing them on ArchDaily, these buildings have helped us to impart inspiration and knowledge to architects around the world, furthering our mission. So to everyone who participated by either nominating or voting for a shortlisted project, thank you for being a part of this amazing process, where the voices of architects from all over the world unite to form one strong, intelligent, forward-thinking message.

Reflections On Álvaro Siza’s Seminal Quinta da Malagueira Housing Scheme

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In an essay and accompanying mini-documentary film by Ellis Woodman for The Architectural Review, Siza’s iconic  housing estate (1973-1977) in Évora, Portugal, is comprehensively explored and examined with a refreshingly engaging critical weight. Rather than develop multi-story housing in the sensitive landscape around the city, Siza proposed “a plan that distributed the programme between two fields composed of low-rise terraced courtyard houses.” As a result, the arrangement of these structures adjust to the “undulating topography ensuring that the narrow, cobbled streets along which the houses are distributed always follow the slope.”

As is made clear in the film (above), one of the remarkable aspects about the Quinta da Malagueira estate is that it is “governed by a third layer of infrastructure” which takes the form of “an elevated network of conduits that distributes water and electricity [...] much in the manner of a miniature aqueduct.” For Siza, this was a logical move as it provided the cheapest means of distributing utilities around the complex. Woodman ultimately concludes that “Siza’s work at Malagueira invites a reading less as a fixed artefact and rather as one episode in the site’s ongoing transformation.”

Read extracts of what Pier Vittorio Aureli, Tony Fretton, and John Tuomey (among others) have said about Siza’s œuvre and approach after the break.

AD Classics: Expo’98 Portuguese National Pavilion / Álvaro Siza

© flickr user Dacian Groza

At the Expo ’98 Portuguese National Pavilion, structure and architectural form work in graceful harmony. Situated at the mouth of the Tagus River in Lisbon, Portugal, the heart of the design is an enormous and impossibly thin concrete canopy, draped effortlessly between two mighty porticoes and framing a commanding view of the water. The simple, gestural move is both weightless and mighty, a bold architectural solution to the common problem of the covered public plaza. Under the graceful touch of Álvaro Siza Vieira, physics and physical form theatrically engage one another, and simplicity and clarity elevate the pavilion to the height of modern sophistication.

Iberê Camargo Foundation: Standards and Variations

© | FG+SG

It could have been a rectangular prism whose length measures forty-one meters and a half, whose width measures thirty-three meters, and whose height measures twenty-five meters. It could have been, if the projection had ended in the trace of a pure rule. It could have been almost the same: three elevated plans, each formed by three rectangular exhibitions rooms, placed at two consecutive faces and connected by ramps that run on the two other faces. Then, a four-story-high atrium rises between circulations and rooms, creating a diagonal symmetry inside the building.

Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road Win Inaugural MCHAP Award

The winners of the inaugural MCHAP Award, recognizing outstanding projects in the Americas: Álvaro Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road. Photographs © Fernando Guerra | FG + SG – últimas reportagens and © Hufton + Crow

Álvaro Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami, Florida have just been announced as the winners of the inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP).

MCHAP was established by the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago to recognize the best built works in the Americas. As Kenneth Frampton noted when the finalists were announced in Santiago, Chile, the MCHAP Awards are the first time that an architectural prize has been approached, not in a trans-atlantic, horizontal manner, but rather vertically across the Americas.

Although initially the jury intended to select one work to be honored for the 2000-2013 period, they felt that both projects represented “an uncommon expressive display of structure,” and divided the 13-year period into two parts. Siza’s Iberê Camargo Foundation was selected as the 2000-2008 winner, while Herzog & de Meuron’s mixed-use parking garage was selected for the 2009-2013 period. The two winning projects were selected from a total of seven finalists by jury members Jorge Francisco Liernur, Sarah Whiting, Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, and Kenneth Frampton.

Learn more about the winning projects after the break.

Travel Diary: Álvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira by Fernando Guerra

About one month ago, three major figures in Portuguese architecture – Pritzker Laureate Álvaro Siza, architect Carlos Castanheira and one of today’s most prominent architectural photographers, Fernando Guerra -  began an uncommon adventure.

During 22 days the architects traveled through many Asian countries inaugurating buildings, visiting new projects and meeting other architects like Pritzker Laureate Whang Shu. At the end of their trip, the trio visited the “Shadow of light – a portrait of Álvaro Siza” exhibition opening and vernissage, in Macau, realized by .

We were able to follow this intimate journey through the images taken by Guerra and published every day in his Instagram – a careful, spontaneous and delicate photographic narrative that shows a little bit of what were these weeks with Siza and Castanheira were like. Back in Portugal, Fernando Guerra published an interesting report on those last weeks and generously shared with us both his writings and his beautiful pictures.

Read the text and enjoy Guerra’s photographs after the break.

Álvaro Siza Wins Fritz Höger’s Top Honors for Innovative Use of Brick

Winner Grand Prix: Álvaro Siza / Rudolf Finsterwalder, Stephanskirchen | Siza-Pavillon Insel Hombroich © Tomas Riehle

Álvaro Siza has won top honors in the “2014 Fritz Höger Awards for Excellence in Brick Architecture.” The awards, now in their third edition, highlight projects that harness the creative potential of brick. Projects from New Delhi, Barcelona and Frankfurt have all been awarded gold and silver prizes. 

View all the winners, after the break.

Álvaro Siza, Carlos Castanheira and Wang Shu Design Museum for Hangzhou Art Academy

After inaugurating his first building in China – “The Building on the Water” – Álvaro Siza has just announced his second project in the country, again in collaboration with Portuguese architect Carlos Castanheira. This time the two architects will develop a for Hangzhou Art Academy.

The new museum – which will have approximately 15,000 sqm, a total area similar to that of Serralves Foundation building – will host an important collection of pieces from the famous German school of arts and design, Bauhaus, founded by Walter Gropius in 1919.

The Building on the Water / Álvaro Siza + Carlos Castanheira

© | FG + SG

Architects: Álvaro Siza, Carlos Castanheira
Location: Huai’an, Jiangsu, China
Architects In Charge: Álvaro Siza e Carlos Castanheira
’S Office: CC&CB – Arquitectos Lda.
Principals In Charge: 1st phase (preliminary project) : Pedro Carvalho, Luís Reis. 2st phase (execution project) : Luís Reis
Collaborators: Diana Vasconcelos, Susana Oliveira, Elisabete Queirós, Orlando Sousa, Rita Ferreira, João Figueiredo, Caitriona, Carolina Leite, Anand Sonecha.
Local Permit Architects And Engineers: United Architects & Engineers Co., Ltda
Project Management & Construction Supervision: Stephen Wang, Richard Wang, Chiou-Huei Lin (WZWX Architecture Group)
3d Models/Renders: Francesco Sechi, João Figueiredo, Pedro Afonso, José Soares
Creative Integration Consultant: Xue Xue Institute, Xue Xue Foundation
Engineering: Shanghai Qingya Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Co. (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, telecommunications and security installation) RFR Shanghai (Stuctural review) Geberit China (Water drainage)
Construction Company: Zhejiang Urban Construction Group
Consultants: HDP – Paulo Fidalgo (Structure) GET – Raul Bessa (Mechanical) GPIC – Alexandre Martins (Lighting) SIKA – Helena Beleza (Waterproofing of the concrete construction)
Client: Por-Shih Lin, Diretor da Shihlien Chemical Industrial (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd.
Project Area: 11000 sqm
Project Year: 2014
Photographs: Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

Fernando Guerra Captures Álvaro Siza’s First Project in China

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

We are excited to share these exclusive photos taken by Fernando Guerra | FG+SG of Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza’s first project in : .

Evoking the image of a dragon perched elegantly on water, the contours of the building seem to move gently in a perfect synergy between local symbolism and the subtle elements of Siza. Snaking around, the form escapes formal convention, emerging as an autonomous entity that contrasts with the orthogonal form of the factory complex. The delicate transition geometry of curves and bridges that connect the different spaces and pavements makes this project one of the most striking examples of Siza’s distinctive architecture. 

Through different shades, reflections and his unmatched composition of light and shadows, Fernando Guerra’s striking images show a poetic scene and the perfect relationship between the building and its environment. We can envision the changes and transitions that the white concrete building goes through as a result of its contact with the water throughout the day.

Read on after the break to see the exclusive images…

Alvaro Siza’s Taifong Golf Club Opens in Changhua, Taiwan

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Today, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Álvaro Siza and architect Carlos Castanheira will inaugurate the Taifong Club, in , Taiwan. 

The two Portuguese architects began the recently-completed project in 2009. The clubhouse includes spaces for recreational and cultural events and activities. The building demonstrates a rich relationship between the landscape and local culture.

Architects: Álvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira
Local Partner | Project Management and Construction Supervision: Ho+Hou Studio Architects and Studio Base Architects
Images of the project—kindly shared with us by architecture photographer Fernando Guerra | FG+SG—can be seen after the break.

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

Herzog & de Meuron’s National Stadium, Beijing. 2008. Image © Iwan Baan

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.

Álvaro Siza Decides The Fate of His Archives

Portrait of Álvaro Siza. Image © Teresa Siza

Update: CCA releases statement from Siza.

Earlier this week we announced that Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza was considering donating his archive to institutions outside of his home country of Portugal. Finally, after much discussion and speculation, Siza has arrived at a decision.

Álvaro Siza’s Archives May Soon Belong to Canada

Image © Fernando Guerra |

The archives of Álvaro Siza, whose drawings, sketches, and models have been exhibited in the most renowned cultural institutions around the world, may soon be transferred to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Centre Canadien d’Architecture, ) in Montreal.

The architect confirmed on Wednesday to Portuguese paper PÚBLICO that he has been “in talks” with the CCA, as well as other un-named institutions from different countries, in order to “decide the future” of his archives.