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Calvin Seibert Sculpts Impressive Modernist Sandcastles

“I always had an affinity for architecture which I attribute to growing up in a neighborhood and town that was constantly under construction. Our house was the first on the block. I think that in a way I was more interested in the abstractness of the foundations and the initial framing then in the completed structures themselves. Things I made back then had that incompleteness about them. As I became more aware of architecture in the wider world Brutalism was one of the styles of the moment. Looking at architecture magazines as a child and seeing hotels in French ski resorts (Marcel Breuer at Flaine) made of concrete suited my sensibility, I was hooked.”

For New York-based Calvin Seibert, sandcastles are more than just a fun summer hobby. Using a paint bucket, homemade plastic trowels, and up to about 150 gallons of water he creates spectacular modernist sandcastles. Read on after the break for an interview with Seibert and to see more photos of his work. 

© Calvin Seibert © Calvin Seibert © Calvin Seibert © Calvin Seibert

Event: Day of Play at RIBA Headquarters

Join us in a day-long celebration of all things play and take over the RIBA headquarters at 66 Portland Place. Participate in free activities, tours and workshops for all the family, inspired by The Brutalist Playground installation.

Harrison & Abramovitz's U.S. Embassy Reopens in Havana

For the first time in over a half-century, the United States reopened its official diplomatic embassy in Havana earlier today, shining an international spotlight on Harrison and Abramovitz's modernist shoreline classic. Historically maligned by many Cubans as an embodiment of American arrogance and imperialism, the building has played a pronounced symbolic role in the escalation - and now the easement - of political animosities between the two countries.

5 Ideas to Transform Preston Bus Station into New Youth Center

The Royal Institute of British Architects, together with the Lancashire City Council, has unveiled five proposals seeking to transform the once at-risk Preston Bus Station into a new public space and youth center. Each design was selected from 100 entries submitted via an international design competition focused on preserving the historic structure's Brutalist nature. 

The anticipated £13 million plan is a major step forwarded considering the 1960s station, now a Grade II listed building, was recently slated for demolition. The adaptive reuse efforts are a result of a successful, international preservation campaign that secured a second life for the iconic structure. 

Now, Lancashire wants your help. View all 5 unanimous proposals (below), and vote for your favorite

How "Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston" Hopes to Reclaim America's Concrete Heritage

Paul Rudolph, Government Service Center (1962-71). Image © Mark Pasnik
Paul Rudolph, Government Service Center (1962-71). Image © Mark Pasnik

In 2007, when the late Mayor Thomas Menino announced his intentions to demolish Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles' iconic Boston City Hall, he gave voice to a tragic but all-too-common popular discomfort with midcentury concrete architecture. Concerned that this threat was only the latest symptom of a pervasive misunderstanding of the significance of the concrete tradition, three architects - Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo - joined forces shortly thereafter to launch "The Heroic Project" and share their appreciation for this unfairly maligned chapter of architectural history. In addition to creating an internet web archive, Pasnik, Grimley, and Kubo jointly authored a forthcoming historical survey, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, scheduled to be released by The Monacelli Press in October 2015, which recasts the cultural and political story behind America's concrete heritage.

I.M. Pei & Partners and Araldo Cossutta, Associated Architects, Christian Science Center (1964-73). Image © Mark Pasnik Kallmann, McKinnell, & Knowles, Boston City Hall (1962-69). Image © Mark Pasnik Paul Rudolph, Government Service Center (1962-71). Image © Mark Pasnik Marcel Breuer & Associates, Madison Park High School (1966-77). Image © Mark Pasnik

Monocle 24 Investigates Playful Design and the Role of Luck in Shaping our Cities

For this week's editions of Section DMonocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, and The Urbanist, their weekly "guide to making better cities," the Monocle team investigate the how the act of playing can shape design and the role of luck in our cities.

In Section D, David Plaisant meets artist Simon Terrill at the new Brutalist Playground, currently on display at the RIBA in London. Terrill, along with Assemble, have reimagined a concrete childrens' playground from one of the UK's Brutalist housing estates, in foam – plus more. In this week's edition of The Urbanist, Andrew Tuck explores the role of luck (and misfortune) in our cities, from how architects apply the philosophy of feng shui to their work to a Brazilian district that it was given the name of Boa Sorte ('good luck' in Portuguese). The show also visits Moore – the city dubbed as "tornado alley of Tornado Alley" – in Oklahoma, US, to understand how best to build in such intense climactic environments.

Listen to both episodes after the break.

Richard Rogers Appeals for Public Support to Save Robin Hood Gardens from Demolition

When it was announced in 2012 that London's Robin Hood Gardens – Alison and Peter Smithson's world-famous Brutalist housing estate – was to be demolished, there was outrage among the architectural community. Since then, many have called for the profession to act in order to protect "one of Britain’s most important post-war housing projects," which led to a fresh bid to save the scheme in March of this year. Richard Rogers, Simon Smithson (a partner at RSHP and son of Alison and Peter Smithson), and academic Dirk van den Heuvel have now called upon members of the public to voice their concerns to the UK Ministry for Culture, Media and Sport, before the end of the week:

"Previous efforts in 2009 to have the building listed failed, but the case has now been re-opened and we understand that the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage will be reviewing the arguments at the end of this week [w/c 15th June 2015]."

Gallery: Assemble's Brutalist Playground Opens at RIBA

An exploration of "post-war design for play," The Brutalist Playground by Assemble and artist Simon Terrill has opened to the public at RIBA's Architecture Gallery. The immersive installation draws on a number of historic London estates - Churchill Gardens, Pimlico; the Brunel Estate, Paddington and the Brownfield Estate in Poplar - where playgrounds were once made from concrete and cast into sculptural forms to offer children an abstract landscape for play. Now deemed unsafe, these playgrounds no longer exist. Thus, The Brutalist Playground was envisaged to explore play, "the Brutalist way." 

Images of the complete installation, after the break.

© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA © Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA © Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA © Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA

The Chemical Brothers "Go" Brutalist in Paris for Their Latest Music Video

In The Chemical Brothers’ “Go” music video, seven women carrying two poles march through Paris’ Front-de-Seine neighborhood in perfectly synchronized choreography by Michel Gondry. The area is located in the 15th district, beside the Seine river, and is characterized by its Brutalist buildings, the result of an urban project in the 1970s that rehabilitated the former industrial area through the construction of 20 towers nearly 100 meters high. 

The buildings were designed by Henri Pottier and Raymond Jules Lopez, and rise around an elevated platform, which features a series of geometric patterns that are best seen from the top of the towers. The video not only highlights several of these buildings, but also integrates the choreography into the remarkable urban setting. 

This post was originally written by José Tomás Franco for Plataforma Arquitectura. 

Panoramic of Front-de-Seine neighborhood, in Paris. Image via Wikipedia CC
Panoramic of Front-de-Seine neighborhood, in Paris. Image via Wikipedia CC

Assemble to Construct a Brutalist Playground at RIBA

Starting June 10, the RIBA will present The Brutalist Playground - an exhibition that is part sculpture, part architectural installation, which invites people of all ages to come and play, the Brutalist way. Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery, the immersive landscape is a new commission by Turner Prize nominated design and architecture collective Assemble and artist Simon Terrill. It explores the abstract concrete playgrounds that were designed as part of Brutalist housing estates in the mid-twentieth century, but which no longer exist. They became playgrounds unsuitable for play.

Park Hill Estate, Sheffield - 1962. Image © Arch Press Archive RIBA Library Photographs Collection © John Donat RIBA Library Photographs Collection © Assemble and Simon Terrill Churchill Gardens - 1956. Image © John Maltby RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Spotlight: William Pereira

Courtesy of UC Irvine Special Collections and Archives
Courtesy of UC Irvine Special Collections and Archives

Winner of the 1942 Acadamy Award for Best Special Effects, William Pereira (April 25, 1909 – November 13, 1985) also designed some of America's most iconic examples of futurist architecture, with his heavy stripped down functionalism becoming the symbol of many US institutions and cities. Working with his more prolific film-maker brother Hal Pereira, William Pereira's talent as an art director translated into a long and prestigious career creating striking and idiosyncratic buildings across the West Coast of America.

Transamerica Pyramid. Image © Flickr user John Zacherle Thene Building, LAX. Image © Flickr user Arch_sam Jack Langson Library at University of California (Irvine). Image © Wikimedia user TFNorman Geisel Library. Image © Darren Bradley

Fresh Bid To Save Robin Hood Gardens From Demolition

It has been reported that London's Robin Hood Gardens housing estate, which was thought to be finally condemned in March 2012, has re-entered a state of flux due to governmental indecision. The former UK Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, gave the housing scheme an immunity from listing certificate in 2009, meaning that no concerned party could bid for it to gain protected status under British law. This certificate, designed to ensure that the buildings would be swiftly demolished, has now expired. This has led the Twentieth Century Society (C20) to launch a new bid for the estate to be both saved and protected.

"Classic Japan" Episode 2: Sachio Otani's Kyoto International Conference Center

The second episode in "Classic Japan" features the 1966 Kyoto International Conference Center by Sachio Otani. The site of the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Otani's waterfront conference center unfurls onto nearby Lake Takaragaike via a series of concrete pathways that offset the centre's Brutalist weight. Filmed and edited by Vincent Hecht, a French architect and film maker currently living in Tokyo, the series focuses on Japanese architecture from the 1950s to the 80s.

Before working on the conference center, Otani had previously worked in the office of Kenzo Tange, whose Yoyogi National Gymnasium was featured in the first episode of the "Classic Japan" series.

Zupagrafika Honors London’s Brutalist Architecture with Paper Models

Polish studio Zupagrafika has released a collection of five paper cut-out models representing London’s brutalist architecture from 1960s and 70s. Scattered around the districts of Camden, Southwark and Tower Hamlet, the “raw concrete (paper) tour begins with iconic tower blocks (Balfron Tower and Space House), leads through council estates doomed to premature demolition (Robin Hood Gardens and Aylesbury Estate) and concludes with a classic prefab panel block (Ledbury Estate).”

The series, "Brutal London" is Zupagrafika’s unique way of cataloging London’s modernist architecture at risk of demolition. 

© Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika

Video: Drone Tour Inside St. Peter's Seminary

Scotland's Grade-A listed Brutalist St. Peter's Seminary, abandoned for the past 25 years, is being rediscovered through drone technology. The building, which was originally designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966 and heavily inspired by the work of Le Corbusier ("with Scottish inspirations"), has recently been offered a new lease of life. London-based Avanti Architects, along with Glasgow-based  and NORD Architectsrecently released the first images of their plans to breathe new life into the iconic building. This filmed footage not only gives a sense of how dilapidated the structure is in its current state, but also hints at the exciting possible future it has as an arts venue.

St. Peter's Seminary: 'La Tourette' With "Scottish Inspirations"

In an article for The Guardian, Rowan Moore explores the state and future of the Grade A listed Brutalist Seminary of St. Peter, "where the influence of Le Corbusier’s monastery of La Tourette combines with [...] Scottish inspirations." Although the building is often seen as wholly unique in the canon of religious buildings, it is still comprised of traditional elements - "cloister, chapel, refectory, cells - but rearranged over multiple levels in unexpected ways, alternately enclosing and opening up to its surroundings."

Defining a More Purposeful Architecture: A Guide to Current Architectural Trends

The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.

These new movements are not distinct stylistic trends, but modes of approaching concept design. They often combine with each other, or with stylistic movements, to create complete designs. Outlined within this essay are five movements, each with varying degrees of success creating purposeful buildings: Diagramism, Neo-Brutalism, Revitism, Scriptism, and Subdivisionism.

Demolition Begins On John Madin's Brutalist Former Library in Birmingham

Work has begun on the demolition of the UK city of Birmingham's former Central Library, designed by home-grown Brutalist architect John Madin. The move by Birmingham Council to not retain the structure of the library, in spite of ideas and petitions put forward by numerous public groups (including one titled Keep The Ziggurat), has been widely met with disappointment among the architectural community. The BBC recently compiled some of the most interesting ideas for reuse which included, among others, transforming the concrete structure into a new English Parliament, an international trade centre, and an enormous space for rock climbing.

Madin, who passed away in 2012, had at least three of his major Modernist projects demolished during his lifetime. His design for Birmingham Library had been met with criticism from the likes of the city's Director of Planning and Regeneration of the time who described it as a "concrete monstrosity." Prince Charles famously described it as "looking more like a place for burning books than keeping them."

See photographs of the former library under construction and in use after the break.

View of the former lending library Interior perspective view of the proposed library (date unknown) John Madin's Library under construction (1971) Aerial view of the completed former library