Venice Biennale 2014: Dominican Republic Seeks Funding for “La Feria Concreta” Documentary

Fair of Peace and Fraternity of the Free World, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (1955). Image © Archivo General de la Nación

Laboratorio de Arquitectura Dominicana (LAD), curators of the Dominican Republic’s first-ever Venice Architecture Biennale participation, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a short documentary that will reveal the daily life of La Feria. Originally built by brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo as a symbol of power and wealth, the 1950s fairground has transformed into an “architectural protagonist” within the city of Santo Domingo that serves various government bodies by day and illicit enterprises by night.

If successful, award-winning filmmaker Corinne van der Borch will capture the historic center’s dualistic nature, revealing untold stories about La Feria’s turbulent past as well as explore how its architecture changed the city.

Learn more and support the film here on Kickstarter!

US Pavilion Establishes Temporary Practice, Sets Agenda for the Future Production of Architecture

OfficeUS in U.S. Pavilion, Leong Leong, 2014. Image Courtesy of Leong Leong and Storefront for Art and Architecture

The curators of the U.S. Pavilion for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale has unveiled OfficeUS, a “radical experiment” that explores the ways in which “space, , and protocols of the U.S. architectural office” have influenced the construction of Modernity.

New York based architects Leong Leong, graphic designer Natasha Jen (Pentagram) and technology consultants at CASE have been commissioned to re-design the U.S. Pavilion in Venice’s Giardini as a modern architectural practice. Eight architects will be selected from an international open call to serve as the ad-hoc practice’s acting principles, collaborating with 90 satellite offices from around the world to revisit and re-envision historical projects from an onsite archive of 1,000 buildings so that they may construct an agenda for the future production of architecture.

Venice Biennale 2014: Romania Discusses Industrial Architecture as Generator of Modernity

Conceptual Cross Sections. Image Courtesy of the Romanian Pavilion

In Eastern Europe the assimilation of modernism proved a rather divergent process, correlated with tumultuous and contradictory socio-political events. The urban space suffered successive destructuring, caused by massive industrial insertions with direct impact at urban and demographic level.

Thus the Romanian Pavilion’s for the 2014 Venice Biennale, Site Under Construction will bring industrial architecture as generator of modernity into discussion. It suggests creating an initiatory journey from inter-war and socialist industrialization to post-industrial urban voids. Glory and void, past and present are mirrored and laid out to be contemplated, to raise awareness and be re-approached. Once industrial sites were closed down, the remaining locations became modern urban ruins, devoid of content, bare of utility, leaving behind an outer landscape, shattering and desolate.

Buy a Piece of the Royal Academy’s Sensing Spaces Exhibition

Eduardo Souto de Moura’s Square Arch. Image © James Taylor-Foster

London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is selling off parts of their blockbuster architectural , Sensing Spaces. The Great Architecture Fair will see the seven practices behind the enormous installations select objects and materials from the exhibition to be repurposed as beautiful, unique items available to buy. In addition to these, the RA are offering members of the public the chance to experience the spaces out-of-hours “to give you your own exclusive moment in the exhibition.” 

Ranging from a top step from Chilean architects Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen’s gargantuan installation for £450, to a bag of pebbles (plus certificate) from Li Xiaodong’s Zen Garden for £10, slices of one of the world’s most accessible architecture exhibitions in recent years are up for grabs.

Venice Biennale 2014: French Pavilion to Debate Modernism’s Successes and Failures

Though his Unite d’Habitation remains popular, many other mass housing projects inspired by Le Corbusier were less successful. Image © Vincent Desjardins

With Le Corbusier casting a long shadow over the last century of France‘s architectural history, it is not surprising that, faced with Rem Koolhaas‘s theme of ‘absorbing modernity’ at the 2014 Venice Biennale, the country might have a unique reaction.

Jean-Louis Cohen‘s initial proposal for the French Pavilion, titled “Modernity: Promise or Menace?” reflects this history: “since 1914 has not so much ‘absorbed’ modernity as it has shaped it with significant contributions made by French architects and engineers in order to meet the requirements of different segments of society. As is the case in many countries, modernity has had to come face to face with social reform and by doing so it has made great dreams such as quality housing and community services for all partially come to fruition. But this encounter has come about in a original way, also generating considerable anxiety.”

Read on after the break for more about the themes explored by the French Pavilion

Venice Biennale 2014: Austrian Pavilion Explores the Power of Parliament

Dalian International Conference Center / . Image © Duccio Malagamba

Parliament, “the place where the power of the people has found its home,” will be the focus of Austria’s contribution to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. With over 200 national parliament buildings from around the world modeled at a scale of 1:500, the , “Plenum. Places of Power.” will explore how the architecture of parliament connects to the public, influences national identify, and more.

“The idea of democratic legitimation of power is so widespread today that no nation can do without building such a place, at least in name, for a representative popular assembly,” described commissioner Dr. Christian Kühn. “What do these places look like? And how are they connected to a public whose trust in democratic formation of will seems to be dwindling around the globe?”

Venice Biennale 2014: FAT, Crimson Explore the Foundation of British Modernism

Venice Biennale 2012: Museum of Copying / FAT. Image © Nico Saieh

Curators FAT Architecture and Crimson Architectural Historians have released more details on this year’s British Pavilion for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. Responding to Rem Koolhaas’ theme, “Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014,” A Clockwork Jerusalem will “explore the diverse cultural influences that shaped and were shaped by British Modernism in the post war era and over the last 100 years.”

“A Clockwork Jerusalem will offer the opportunity to explore and rethink fundamental aspects of British modernity, beyond architecture,” described Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design and Fashion at the British Council. “As the Venice Biennale evolves into a global research project, we are keen to make a significant contribution to the cultural debate around the past, present and of and global architecture.”

More from the curators, after the break…

Venice Biennale 2014: Nordic Pavilion to Study Architecture’s Role in East African Independence

FORMS OF FREEDOM. Kenyatta International Conference Center, Nairobi, Kenya. 1966–1973. Architect: Karl Henrik Nøstvik.. Image © David Keith Jones

The National Museum in has been chosen to curate the Nordic Pavilion for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, in collaboration with the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm, and architectural firm Space Group. The , “FORMS OF FREEDOM: African Independence and Nordic Models” will study modern Nordic architecture’s role in the liberation of East Africa during the 1960s and 70s.

Inside the Homes of Eight Famous Architects

Shigeru Ban’s Tokyo house. Image © Hiroyuki Hirai

Originally published in Metropolis Magazine as “Inside the Homes and Workspaces of 8 Great Architects“, this article shows the spaces occupied by some of the best-known architects in the world. Documented for an exhibition that will be featured at the Milan Design Week 2014, the images give a glimpse inside the private worlds of some of our favorite designers.

It’s a cliche that architects have messy workspaces. From chaos comes creation, so the phrase goes. But an upcoming exhibition at this year’s Salone del Mobile intends to dispel the myth. Where Architects Live will present glimpses into the personal spaces of eight significant architects: Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind and Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai.

Curator Francesca Molteni interviewed each of the designers in their private homes and came away with one finding: architects are actually quite tidy. The studios are all pristinely ordered; books are neatly stowed away, figurines and objets astutely displayed, and table tops swept clean. The photographs below are part of the exhibition materials, produced with the help of scenographer Davide Pizzigoni, which faithfully document the physical environments in images, video, and audio. These will be used to recreate the architects’ “rooms” at Salone del Mobile in April.

Where Architects Live is not limited to satisfying our curiosity about what these architects’ homes look like. Richard Rogers’ affirmation that “a room is the beginning of a city” resonates with the project’s aim in trying to articulate its subjects’ personal tastes and obsessions, and how those are reflected in their architectural work.

Read on to see more images of the inside of architects’ homes and studios

Critical Round-Up: ‘Sensing Spaces’ Strikes a Chord With Critics

© Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014. Photography: James Harris

As the most ambitious architecture hosted by the Royal Academy of Arts in a generation, Sensing Spaces was inevitably going to be under a lot of scrutiny from architecture and art critics. According to the Academy’s Chief Executive Charles Saumarez-Smith, the momentous exhibition “represents a shift away from postwar modern architecture where it was about problem solving, to thinking about architecture in terms of experience, material, light and space.”

Fortunately the exhibition seems to have struck a chord with critics, who have almost universally praised the exhibition’s premise and have, to varying extents, been highly complementary about the individual exhibits.

Read on after the break for a round-up of the critics’ opinions

LCD Exhibits “As Autumn Leaves” at Beijing’s 2013 Design Week

Courtesy of Laboratory of Computational Design

“As Autumn Leaves” (AAL) is a spatial designed and built by students of the (LCD) for Beijing‘s 2013 Design Week. Located in a historic hutong district in Beijing, AAL highlights the existing entrance to Dashilar Factory where emerging creatives exhibit their design.   The concept is based on ephermerality of nature. As temperatures change, autumn turns to winter, and trees shed their leaves, AAL recalls the passage of time through changing seasons. 

Arup Associates Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation

Cambridge University Sports Centre. Image Courtesy of Arup Associates

Arup Associates was founded in 1963 by the legendary engineer Ove Arup as a design practice in which engineers and architects worked on an equal footing; it later became a subsidiary of Arup (also founded by Arup as Arup and Partners in 1946). These early origins marked Arup Associates as a forward-thinking and revolutionary practice in an era where truly multi-disciplinary practices were almost unheard of.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Arup Associates is hosting a at their offices in London.

Lodge on the Lake Exhibition

The winning entry. Image © Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts, Jack Davies

In light of the strong responses to their Lodge on the Lake competition, organized in collaboration with the University of Canberra and won by Henry Stephens, Nick Roberts and Jack Davies in May, the Gallery of Australian Design is hosting an of the submissions to the competition, including models of the entries created specially created for the .

100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas

Courtesy of BMW Guggenheim Lab

The BMW Guggenheim Lab, a mobile think-tank focused on the study of urban life, has returned to New York City for its homecoming exhibition currently on view at the Guggenheim Museum till January 5, 2014. After two years of research and touring Berlin and Mumbai, the lab aims to present major urban themes in art, architecture, education, science, and technology.”100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas” is a compilation of definitions of the most pressing issues in urban centers today, contextualized to reflect how different interpret them. Architects, planners and students take note: From street facades to bailouts, gentrification to trash mapping, this resource archives years of discussion into one user-friendly interface. Explore the glossary, here.

‘London As It Could Be Now’: Reconnecting Londoners with the Tidal Thames

The Thames Baths Project. Image © Studio Octopi / Civic Engineers / Jonathan Cook Landscape

Five proposals for reconnecting Londoners with the River Thames have gone on display at London’s Royal Academy of Arts (). The competition, organised by the Architecture Foundation, “launched an open call for multidisciplinary design teams to put forward new ideas and visions for self-selected sites along the Tidal Thames” earlier this year. The five selected teams were shortlisted earlier this year and recently discussed their designs at a public design workshop. The schemes are now being exhibited as part of the Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out exhibition.

Read extracts of the proposals after the break…

Architect Floats “100 Colors” for Japanese Art Festival

© Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners

Emmanuelle Moureaux, expert in the architecture of color, has created yet another vibrant space, this time for the 2013 Shinjuku Creators Festa in Japan.

Shikiri, meaning “to divide space using colors,” is a made-up term the French architect has embraced in her art and architecture. She aims to “use colors as three-dimensional elements, like layers, in order to create spaces, not as a finishing touch applied to surfaces.”

Review: ‘Richard Rogers: Inside Out’ at the Royal Academy

Zip-Up House Concept drawing (1968) – courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Image © Richard and Su Rogers

“Architecture is too complex to be solved by any one person.”

Richard Rogers is an architect who understands the significance of collaboration. As a man with an intense social mind and a thirst for fairness in architectural and urban design, Rogers’ substantial portfolio of completed and proposed buildings is driven by the Athenian citizen’s oath of “I shall leave this city not less but more beautiful than I found it.”

In honor of his success, London’s Royal Academy (RA) is currently playing host to a vast retrospective of Richard Rogers’ work, from his collaborations with Norman Foster and Renzo Piano, to the large-scale projects that define Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) today. The RA’s extensive exhibition has been condensed into a series of motifs that have defined his architectural work, punctuated by memorabilia which offer personal insights into how Rogers’ career has been shaped by the people he’s worked with and the projects that he has worked on.

Continue after the break for a selection of highlights from the exhibition. 

Seven Architects, Seven Multi-Sensory Installations Planned for London’s RA

Concept image of environment by Li Xiaodong, commissioned by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, detail.Li Xiaodong

The Royal Academy of Arts’ (RA) in London will soon be transformed into a multi-sensory “architectural maze” with the construction of seven installations by seven world-famous architects for the exhibit, Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. Participants, handpicked by curators Kate Goodwin and Drue Heinz, include Alvaro Siza, , Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Kengo Kuma.