Now in its 20th year, Berlin-based firm TOPOTEK 1 has been an enterprising player in the field of landscape architecture and public design, with a portfolio of projects that emphasize the social and formal roles that landscape assumes within built work. Largely responsible for the firm’s success this far is the man at the helm, Martin Rein-Cano, who has served as one of the founding partners since 1996.
Founded in 1996 by Buenos Aires-born Martin Rein-Cano, TOPOTEK 1 has quickly developed a reputation as a multidisciplinary landscape architecture firm, focussing on the re-contextualization of objects and spaces and the interdisciplinary approaches to design, framed within contemporary cultural and societal discourse.
The award-winning Berlin-based firm has completed a range of public spaces, from sports complexes and gardens to public squares and international installations. Significant projects include the green rooftop Railway Cover in Munich, Zurich’s hybrid Heerenschürli Sports Complex and the German Embassy in Warsaw. The firm has also recently completed the Schöningen Spears Research and Recreation Centre near Hannover, working with contrasting typologies of the open meadow and the dense forest on a historic site.
Last week ArchDaily attended the 2016 World Architecture Festival in Berlin. We chatted with Sir Peter Cook and asked him about the current state of global affairs (Brexit, the US election, etc). He explained how his experience and work has influenced a career that has spanned over five decades, and reminds us of the inspiring power of architecture.
Peter Cook: You have to understand that I'm a very particular kind of animal both politically and in my general opinions. I'm what I would call a creative cynic. I'm an old person and I've seen a lot of not very good things happen. On the other hand I was privileged as a child to have free education and free college.
Ahead of this weekend's symposium “THE DEBATE”—which will take place in Kotor, Montenegro and will present the results of the Project Solana Ulcinj for the national and international audience of the KotorAPSS (Kotor Architectural Prison Summer School)—we present an interview with Bart Lootsma, co-curator of the Montenegro Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.
The exhibition "Project Solana Ulcinj," co-curated by Lootsma and Katharina Weinberger and commissioned by Dijana Vucinic and the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, features four proposals for the re-use/re-purposing/re-programming of a former industrial site in Montenegro. With an eye on not only sustainability, but also natural and economic viability, four firms proposed different spatial strategies to transform what Lootsma calls an "unreal man-made artificial and abstract landscape."
Video: Daily Life, Daily Tao – Jingyu Liang Discusses the Chinese Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale
In this interview, curator Jingyu Liang of Approach Architecture Studio discusses the concept behind "Daily Design, Daily Tao – Back to the Ignored Front," the theme of the Chinese Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Responding to 2016 Biennale director Alejandro Aravena's overall theme of "Reporting From the Front," the pavilion takes an introspective look at China's own architectural front, and the impact that the country's ongoing development boom has had on Chinese architecture.
In this video, ArchDaily interviews MASS Design Group co-founder Alan Ricks, who describes the firm’s working process and how the practice, with offices in Boston and Kigali, Rwanda, is intent on improving people's lives through architecture. The firm has established a fundamental process for creating structures, that according to Ricks "Have an obligation to catalyze and amplify the outcomes that are the core services delivered in our buildings.” Whether serving the fields of health, education, or housing, the firm’s modus operandi is public benefit. "[It’s] how we leverage the building process to expand the impact," says Ricks. "We’ve taken to the calling that lo-fab, or locally fabricated, it doesn’t mean lo-tech and it doesn’t mean not pre-fab. It just means we’ve uncovered the available resources where we work and are leveraging them to deliver value.” With clinics in Haiti, primary schools in Rwanda, and proposals for library and hospital projects in the United States, MASS Design has proven its ability to act in the realm of public good. The firm has previously been lauded by New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman, was named one of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices in 2013, and was the winner of both the Zumtobel Group Award and Curry Stone Design Prize in 2012. Watch the video for more about this entrepreneurial design practice that is redefining what it means to be local, sustainable, and most importantly, for the community.
Kulapat Yantrasast is one of the founding partners and current Creative Director of wHY (Workshop Hakomori Yantrasast): a multi-disciplinary firm that works with designed objects, architecture and ideas. Yantrasast values humanist design, focusing on the way architecture directly relates to its human inhabitants. The firm has a diverse portfolio, with much of their work focusing on the relationship of public spaces to the city. They have been shortlisted to revitalize Los Angeles’ oldest park, selected to design the performance spaces for Chicago’s re-designed Jackson Park, and designed and built the “Art Bridge” – a cultural piece of infrastructure – over the Los Angeles river.
Ever present in the forum of architectural discourse, WORKac is known not only for their playful and well-developed projects, but also for their exhibits, installations and publications that all have a message: architecture has the power to change the way we live. Most recently, they’ve participated in the Chicago Architecture Biennial, re-producing famous speculative drawings by Antfarm to illustrate alternative ways of living. Even before that however, WORKac has been shifting its focus on the impact of architecture on the environment, looking at the way city planning and housing could improve to lessen our damage to the earth. Their book, 49 cities, explores the plans and strategies of its namesake to speculate on how we can begin to improve our own, current cities, while their exhibit at the MoMA PS1 event, “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream” advertised a potential “Nature City” that could change the way we live.
Visitors to the Chicago Architecture Biennial were greeted with the appearance of a small, 30 square meter home built of thatch and steel – the S House 3. The latest prototype in experiments with affordable, sustainable housing by Vo Trong Nghia, the exhibit allowed visitors to experience the home firsthand. Designed to be built for as little as $1,000 and last over 30 years, the exhibit challenged notions of sustainability and cost, proposing an optimistic look at the future of affordable housing.
Last week marked the opening of Santiago Calatrava's Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro. Prior to the its opening, ArchDaily sat down with Calatrava to learn more about the museum's design and how the project's fruition resulted in the removal of an elevated highway that once isolated the city from the harbor.
One of BIG's most high-profile projects under construction, the Amager Bakke waste-to-power plant in Copenhagen, will have quite the party trick up its sleeve. In order to give locals a new understanding of the issue of global warming, for every tonne of CO2 generated by the burning of waste, the plant will emit a super-sized ring of steam into the sky from the chimney perched at the top of its sloping roof. However, when construction on the project started, BIG hit a road block: as Bjarke Ingels explained to FastCo Design, "there were no smoke ring-emitting manufacturers in the yellow pages."
During the 2015 Moscow Urban Forum, city experts from different regions and countries united to exchange practices, projects, and trends. The event fueled discussion on the city of Moscow, which is currently working on its expansion plans, new transport infrastructure, and a series of urban initiatives that are having a positive impact on the quality of life in the city.
Sou Fujimoto Architects' "Architecture is Everywhere" was among the ArchDaily editors' favorite exhibitions in the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The thought-provoking, entertaining collection of mundane objects truly embraced the idea that the public—not solely architects—should be included in the Biennial's celebration of architecture.
Before the fruits of architectural labor are realized, we rarely revel in the seeds cultivated in the minds of architects. It's hard to capture these formative ideas, much less present them in a way that seizes the satisfying moment in which architecture is "found."
The deceiving simplicity of displaying "found architecture" actually imparts a deeper, thoughtful lesson, which Fujimoto has inscribed on an accompanying placard "Architecture could come into being from anywhere. I believe fostering that architecture-to-be into real architecture itself is also architecture."
A few weeks ago, during the opening of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, we eagerly awaited our opportunity to speak with Joseph Grima, the co-artistic director of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial. In an exhibition with such an open theme, we wanted to understand the driving forces behind the assembly of the participants, in addition to how the city of Chicago itself influenced decisions in the planning of this largest gathering of architecture in North America. Watch the video above and read a transcript of Grima's answers below.
Earlier this year we had the chance to interview Spanish-born architect Santiago Calatrava in his New York apartment. Trained first as a structural engineer, he has designed and completed over 50 projects, which include bridges, transportation hubs, theaters and even a skyscraper. Calatrava has built a career through public architecture, and thanks to open competitions he has received commissions for mostly large-scale, cultural and transport projects. Many cities around the world—from Europe to the US and Asia and beyond—can proudly lay claim to the structurally dramatic projects that Calatrava has dreamed up.
His architectural explorations fuse engineering and art, and result in impressive structures that are honest in revealing the forces at play. In this respect, he is a pioneer; when working on his earliest projects, he didn’t have access to software and tools that are ubiquitous today.
We asked him about his definition of architecture, his high-profile commission for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, and the challenges he has faced while running his practice. The WTC hub is one of Calatrava's most-anticipated projects in New York; though its inherent complexity has resulted in a long construction period, he has created a project rich in not only form, but also in spatial quality.
Some of Calatrava's projects use an almost modern-day gothic vocabulary—where big spans, vaults and thin lines define large spaces. Other works, such the St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York, mobilize larger masses and big, stacked walls.
Watch the interview above to learn how Calatrava sees the intersection of art and architecture.
During our last trip to Beijing we had the opportunity to visit Li Xiaodong at his recently opened extension for the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University. Li Xiaodong has become recognized worldwide thanks to his recent projects in rural China, which are deeply connected with the landscape and local community and use a mix of traditional and contemporary techniques.
His built works are strongly connected with his academic research. As a professor at Tsinghua University he has focused on understanding Chinese architecture, co-authoring publications such as “Form Making in Traditional Chinese Architecture” and “Chinese Conception of Space." His research has led him to develop a unique style, which he calls a “new regionalism," focusing on how the local can deal with the global in this era.
For the past 27 years, the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award has not only recognized the most relevant buildings in the EU, but has also served as a timeline of the evolution of European Architecture.
By looking back on the thousands of projects that have been nominated over the years, one can see a new identity take shape in the EU after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and thanks to the free movement of people — and therefore creative capital - that the EU developed.
In this interview, Giovanna Carnevali, the director of the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, tells us how the award is also becoming a database of hundreds of recognized architects, a powerful network that can be used to assist EU countries by linking "institutions that do have money but they don’t know how to use it and professionals."
During the Mextropoli Festival in Mexico City, we had the chance to sit down with Martha Thorne, the Vice Dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design, and the Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize, who spoke with us about some of the challenges currently facing architecture education.
"When there is globalization in any field there’s the danger that every place becomes similar, or in this case the danger that schools can become similar or standardized, all trying to approach architecture and the academics of architecture in the same way,” she explained. “I think what’s really interesting is to try to look at schools and see how they try to differentiate themselves.”