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Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist' Investigates the Influence of Politics in the City

For this edition of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team investigate politics in global "power cities." Visiting Brussels, capital of Belgium and administrative capital of the European Union, they explore how politics have changed the city over the last four decades. Further south, they travel to Vienna which, "diplomatically remains very important and wields power." Yet even though the UN have an outpost there, is the Austrian capital still a stage for international diplomacy? The episode also makes a quick stop at Embassy Row in Washington D.C. to examine the architecture of diplomatic design.

Neutelings Riedijk Architects Begins Construction on Largest Passive Office Building in Belgium

Neutelings Riedijk Architects has begun construction on the Herman Teirlinck Building, which, when complete, will be the largest passive office building in Belgium, serving as a mixed-use center for the Flemish government.

The 66,500 square-meter building, located in Brussels, will be built along the canal on the site of Tour & Taxis, one of the last large-scale development locations in the heart of the city, in hopes that it will transform the area into “a new high-quality green urban district with mixed functions.”

Brutopia / stekke + fraas

© Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde

Rem Koolhaas Asks: Are Smart Cities Condemned to Be Stupid?

Originally published by the European Commission as part of their "Digital Minds for a New Europe" series, this article is an edited transcript of a talk given by Rem Koolhaas at the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, 24 September 2014.

I had a sinking feeling as I was listening to the talks by these prominent figures in the field of smart cities because the city used to be the domain of the architect, and now, frankly, they have made it their domain. This transfer of authority has been achieved in a clever way by calling their city smart – and by calling it smart, our city is condemned to being stupid. Here are some thoughts on the smart city, some of which are critical; but in the end, it is clear that those in the digital realm and architects will have to work together.

OFFICE Kersten Geers David van Severen Design Limited Furniture Series for MANIERA

Exhibition View © Sven Laurent. Image Courtesy of MANIERA
Exhibition View © Sven Laurent. Image Courtesy of MANIERA

The Brussels-based design initiative MANIERA invites emerging architects to design series of limited edition furniture. This April, their first show opened with works by the Belgian architects OFFICE KERSTEN GEERS DAVID VAN SEVEREN and the Dutch artist and architect Anne Holptrop. The objects are on view in the loft-like living space of Kwinten Lavigne and Amaryllis Jacobs, the couple who founded MANIERA. Since both have a background in the art world, it’s not surprising that the design objects shown at MANIERA are more than just furniture, but rather a deliberate search for collisions between the realms of architecture, design and art.   

AD Architecture School Guide: Brussels Faculty of Engineering [Bruface]

ULB Solbosch Campus - Building R42. Image © gm2011.ulb.ac.be, via Bruface Facebook Page
ULB Solbosch Campus - Building R42. Image © gm2011.ulb.ac.be, via Bruface Facebook Page

The United States has an architecture school in almost every major university in each of its 50 states. And while it’s true that the choices seem endless, it is also true that there are certain values and approaches that dominate. Ecological architecture, for example, is often not passive, but is technology-laden, which means a large production footprint for materials like PV panels, special types of glass, or other cladding solutions. This is just one example of how industry and pedagogy shape one another and in turn influence the perception of “legitimate” architecture. Teaching architectural history offers another example in which what comprises “relevant” history is all-too-often limited to Euro-American examples. Everything in Asia beyond twenty years ago, whether it is Southeast, South, or East, is usually ignored because - although the names of historical architects may well be known in their own countries, they are not easily translatable for the average English-language author of architecture survey books.

The truth is that even in architecture schools in European nations, approaches and emphases on pedagogical content and styles vary widely. For example, schools in northern Europe have very different views on what is important and how to teach it than schools in western Europe. One school with a very defined point of view is the Brussels Faculty of Engineering, or Bruface, created by Vrije Universiteit Brussel in cooperation with the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. There, students can receive a Master of Science in Architectural Engineering; they are trained not just in design, but in engineering, emphasizing a more structural, practical approach.

WALL HOUSE / AND’ROL

© Georg Schmidthals
© Georg Schmidthals
  • Architects: AND’ROL
  • Location: Brussels, Belgium
  • Area: 138.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Georg Schmidthals

© Georg Schmidthals © Georg Schmidthals © Georg Schmidthals © Georg Schmidthals

Siblings Factory / JDS Architects

© Nico Neefs © Nico Neefs © Nico Neefs © Nico Neefs

BAT 021 Housing / Urban Platform

© Georges de Kinder + Serge Brison
© Georges de Kinder + Serge Brison

© Georges de Kinder + Serge Brison © Georges de Kinder + Serge Brison © Georges de Kinder + Serge Brison © Georges de Kinder + Serge Brison

SUE 006 Housing / Urban Platform

© Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde © Tim Van de Velde

Jaax / Atelier Pierre Hebbelinck

© Marie-Françoise Plissart © Marie-Françoise Plissart © Marie-Françoise Plissart © Marie-Françoise Plissart

LENS 021 Housing / Urban Platform

© Tim van de Velde © Tim van de Velde © Tim van de Velde © Tim van de Velde

Dexia / Atelier Pierre Hebbelinck

© Marie Franáoise Plissart © François Brix © François Brix © François Brix

DEC 100 Housing / Urban Platform

  • Architects: Urban Platform
  • Location: Brussels, Belgium
  • Area: 3280.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2006
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Urban Platform

Courtesy of Urban Platform Courtesy of Urban Platform Courtesy of Urban Platform Courtesy of Urban Platform

Square de l'Accueil Winning Proposal / ARJM

ARJM, in collaboration with SUM, recently won the competition for their project, "Square de l'Accueil" (Welcoming Square), which includes a public square of 10,000 m2, 53 flats, a school, commercial spaces and underground parking. Located in a neighborhood at a strategic entry point towards Evere, one of Brussels communes, the project itself includes all the components of the city at a smaller scale.  More images and architects’ description after the break.

Habitation TSL / adn Architectures

© Filip Dujardin © Filip Dujardin © Filip Dujardin © Filip Dujardin