Four Ways to Learn About Architecture for Free

Project example from OpenCourseWare’s Geometric Disciplines and Architecture Skills: Reciprocal Methodologies by Isabel Collado and Ignacio Peydro. Image Courtesy of Luisel Zayas-San-Miguel

Learning doesn’t necessarily need to be formal – or expensive for that matter. Thanks to the Internet and some generous benefactors, you can further your education for free from the comfort of your own home. Top schools such as MIT and Harvard University are affiliated with free online learning resources, allowing people from all over the globe to connect and audit courses at their own pace. In some cases, these services even provide self-educators with proof for having completed courses. Keep reading after the break to check out our round-up of four free online learning resources.

Holcim Foundation Announces Jury for 2015 Global Award

Courtesy of Holcim Foundation

The Holcim Foundation has announced the global jury for the 2015 Holcim Awards, its triennial prize which encourages architects, planners, engineers, project owners and students to share their projects and visions that “go beyond conventional notions of sustainable construction.”

The 2015 prize is the Holcim Foundation’s fourth cycle, and this year will feature a total prize fund of $2 million – a significant increase on their 2012 prize fund of $300,000. To oversee the , they have recruited independent experts of international stature, including the Deans of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and ETH Zurich, and Alejandro Aravena of Chilean practice Elemental.

Read on after the break for the full list of jurors and more on the prize

New Harvard GSD Class Asks: Are Competitions Worth It?

BIG’s 2009 render for the National Library in Astana, Kazakhstan, which was never built. Image Courtesy of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

For small firms, design competitions can often feel like a Catch22 - enter and lose precious time and resources (usually for nothing) or avoid them – at the risk of losing out on the “big break.” Now a new class at ’s Graduate School of Design takes on just this quandary, as well as the many other practical, theoretical, and moral implications of architectural competitions for the profession. Learn more at this article at the Harvard Gazette.

Harvard GSD Releases Video of Study Abroad Studio with Rem Koolhaas

via TheHarvardGSD’s youtube channel

“We encounter similarities and difference, but what we encounter more than anything else is how intensely all these seemingly stable elements are evolving in time. Sometimes with acceleration, sometimes with moments of stagnation, but actually they are constantly changing. So what seemed to be a look at the repertoire is actually turning into a look at how nothing is stable.” – Rem Koolhaas

The GSD has released a video from the Fall 2013 study abroad studio in Rotterdam, . The students who relocated to Rotterdam for last year’s fall semester worked on the “Elements of Architecture” exhibition that will open in the Central Pavilion during the 2014 International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, Italy. Watch Rem and the students reflect on their research, after the break…

Barcelona Architect Jose Ahedo Wins $100,000 Wheelwright Prize

Jose Ahedo, Blanca Pyrenees, Education Center (Els Hostalets de Tost, Spain, 2013). Image Courtesy of

Barcelona architect Jose Ahedo of Studio Ahedo has been selected over seven finalists and 200 applicants to receive the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s $100,000 Wheelwright Prize. The travel grant, now in its second year, was awarded to Ahedo for his proposal Domesticated Grounds: Design and Domesticity Within Systems, which focuses on the innumerable environmental and social challenges related to animal farming. 

The jury lauded Ahedo’s proposal for “its integrated approach to a broad range of issues, and for his clarity in identifying architecture and design’s potential to shape more sustainable models of production for a global mega-industry.”

Seven Architects Shortlisted for $100,000 Wheelwright Prize

, Blanca Pyrenees, Education Center (Els Hostalets de Tost, Spain, 2013). Image Courtesy of Wheelwright Prize

Seven architects have been shortlisted from nearly 200 international applicants for Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s 2014 Wheelwright Prize. The $100,000 grant, which is awarded annually to a single architect to support travel-based architectural research, is “intended to spur innovative research during the early stage of an architect’s professional career” and “foster new forms of research informed by cross-cultural engagement.”

Ranging from a Barcelona-based architect whose research proposal focuses on systems to a Croatian architect who wants to re-imagine the “border-scape” in Mediterranean countries, you can review all seven finalists after the break…

Rem Koolhaas’ Current Fascinations: On Identity, Asia, the Biennale, & More

Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

In this interview, originally published in The Architectural Review, Andrew Mackenzie sits down with OMA founder Rem Koolhaas to discuss the Venice Biennale, the extinction of national identities, his fascination with Asia, the link between De Rotterdam and Delirious New York, and the future of the profession.

Your proposition for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale asks whether national identity has been, as you say, ‘sacrificed to modernity’. Some might view this as a project of reclamation, not unlike Frampton’s regionalism. How would you differentiate your proposition from Frampton’s?

Well, Kenneth Frampton is a smart guy, but the problem is that he looked at regionalism as an antidote to cosmopolitan development. In so doing he perverted the cause of regionalism, because suddenly regionalism was mobilised as a private cause that it couldn’t sustain. However, the question of national identity is an open one. For instance, at first sight is a very internationalist country, but looking closely you can see an enormous return of, not vernacular, but quasi-vernacular architecture and quasi-old fortresses that are newly built with a national flavour. Look at Zaandam, and that huge assemblage of so-called vernacular buildings.

DDes Conference: Projective Views on Urban Metabolism

In the last two decades, the concept of urban metabolism, aiming to grasp the continuous processes of energy, material and population exchange within and between cities and their extensive hinterlands, has been subject of both extensive empirical research and, increasingly, critical discussion within the social and natural sciences. However, these interdisciplinary challenges have not yet been met with a synthetic response from the design disciplines.

The goals of this one-day conference are, through the lens of urban metabolism, to: generally reassess the planetary rescaling of contemporary urbanization processes; unpack the transformation of spatial forms and structures and subsequently, the emergence of new operative territories for design; explore the agency of design in confronting these challenges.

The conference is free and open to the public. For more information and complete schedule please click here.

Title: DDes Conference: Projective Views on Urban Metabolism
Website: http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/#/events/ddes-conference-projective-views-on-urban-metabolism.html
Organizers: Harvard University GSD
From: Fri, 07 Feb 2014 10:00
Until: Fri, 07 Feb 2014 12:30
Venue: Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall, University
Address: 48 Quincy Street, Harvard University, , MA 02138, USA

Applications Now Open for Harvard GSD’S $100,000 Traveling Fellowship

Jury for the 2014 . Image

UPDATE: This year’s jury for the Wheelwright Prize will be: Mohsen Mostafavi, Iñaki Ábalos, Sílvia Benedito, Pedro Gadanho, K. Michael Hays, Linda Pollak, Shohei Shigematsu, and Jorge Silvetti.

Open Letters / Harvard Graduate School of Design

Courtesy of Open Letters

Launched in September 2013 by students at the Graduate School of Design, Open Letters is a print experiment that tests the epistolary form as a device for generating conversations about architecture and design. The project stems from an earnest curiosity about what people have to say to each other about architecture, landscapes, cities, ideas, history, practice, experience and learning. 

New issues are released every other Friday, each presenting one open letter, i.e. a letter addressed to a particular party, but intended for publication, about any topic relating to the design disciplines. Past correspondents have written to mentors, chairs, trees, mystical creatures, those in need of advice and to NCARB. All issues can be read online.

A Radical New Approach to Prison Design

© Glen Santayana

A recent topic that has been receiving attention among architects is the issue of designing prisons. The increased awareness of the problem has been spearheaded by Raphael Sperry, founder of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, who has been campaigning to have the AIA forbid members from designing execution chambers or solitary confinement units. At the other end of the scale, Deanna VanBuren, a principle of FOURM Design Studio and a member of ADPSR herself, has championed ‘restorative justice’, an approach to the justice system which emphasizes rehabilitation and reconciliation in order to prevent people from re-offending.

Now Glen Santayana, a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, has used his thesis project to add to this debate, designing PriSchool – a prison which both integrates with a school of criminology and is embedded within the community. Could this radical approach to prison design really be an answer to the stretched prison system in the US (and elsewhere)? Read on after the break to find out more.

AD Interviews: Ben van Berkel, UNStudio on London’s Canaletto Tower

Ben van Berkel. Image © Inga Powilleit

ArchDaily recently spoke to Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal architect at UNStudio, an international network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure based in the Netherlands. The office, which was founded in 1988, has completed projects around the world ranging from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. With over 81 built projects, and 54 currently in progress (including Raffles City in Hangzhou and Scotts Tower in Singapore), London’s Canaletto Tower (which is due to be completed in 2015) marks the practice’s first major project in the UK.

For Architects Only? How Kanye Exposed Architecture’s Bias

© Noam Dvir, Instagram User dvirnm

When Kanye West spoke with students at my alma mater on Sunday evening, he said “I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be ‘architected.’” In the social media frenzy that followed, a recurring response that I saw on architecture-centric sites was to snicker at West’s use of the word “architect” as a verb. For many, this was symbolic of West’s ignorance and hubris as he presumed to talk about something without knowing anything.

Except, of course, that “architect” is well recognized as a verb. Dictionaries say so, architects say so, and academics say so. If you’re architect Doug Patt and call yourself howtoarchitect on YouTube, you get a contract from MIT Press to write a book—called How to Architect. If you are the French philosopher Louis Marin, you can suggest that “the castle and gardens of Versailles ‘architect’ the Prince to make him not only the absolute of political power, but the center of the cosmos in its entirety,” and you will be counted among the most eminent semioticians of the twentieth century. If you are Harvard architecture theorist K. Michael Hays, you might stand up at an academic conference and say, “There are only certain things that can be done at this moment. Not just anything can be architected at this moment, right? There are limits.” When you do, people will nod and applaud.

But if you are and you suggest that “everything needs to actually be ‘architected,’” it disqualifies you to speak about architecture.

Kanye West Drops In on Harvard’s GSD

© Noam Dvir, Instagram User dvirnm

UPDATE: The AASU has released a statement on Kanye West’s invitation and visit, which you can find at the end of the post. Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the GSD, has also commented on the visit.

Kanye West surprised students at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) last night by dropping in un-announced before his Sunday night concert at the TD Garden in Boston. He gave a short motivational speech to the crowd that quickly formed in the GSD’s signature “trays.” West told the students:

I just wanted to tell you guys: I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be “architected.” [...] I believe that utopia is actually possible—but we’re led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. So in no way am I a politician—I’m usually at my best politically incorrect and very direct. I really appreciate you guys’ willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation.

GSD student Sekou Cooke, writer of “Keep Talking Kanye: An Architect’s Defense of Kanye West,” confirmed to an ArchDaily editor that West had in fact seen his post defending West’s right to speak-up about architectural issues and act as a role model for young potential architects of color. Although his visit with the student body was unexpected, West had been invited by Harvard GSD’s African American Student Union (AASU). Following a meeting with the AASU’s core group of leaders—during which West led a conversation regarding under-represented minorities in the design disciplines—the star was inspired to briefly address the rest of the students. West also gifted 300 tickets to his show to the GSD. In fact, in an uncharacteristic moment of insecurity, West told the crowd of students:

Tonight, this show, if you come see it—um, I’m a bit self conscious because I’m showing it to architects. So the stage does have flaws in it. It’s an expression of emotion so give me a pass on that.

See images and video of West’s GSD visit, after the break…

AD Interviews Eduardo Souto de Moura On His Latest Prize

Prtizker laureate Eduardo Souto de Moura accepts the Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design at a ceremony held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in September. Image © Yusuke Suzuki for Harvard GSD Events

ArchDaily got the chance to briefly speak with Pritzker-prize winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura when he (along with the Porto Metro Authority) received the Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design earlier this month. His design for the Metro system in Porto, Portugal garnered high praise from the jury, with member explaining that the project “shows generosity to the public realm unusual for contemporary infrastructure projects.” Upon receipt of the award, the head of the Porto Metro, João Velez Carvalho, thanked Souto de Moura for his efforts in this “urban revolution” and touted Porto as a destination in which people actively and enthusiastically seek out the architecture of Souto de Moura and fellow Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza. 

Souto de Moura spent a few moments with us to describe both the challenges and rewards of working on a project that saw the completion of 60 new stations constructed in 10 years within the sensitive fabric of the city of Porto—a UNESCO World Heritage site.

ArchDaily: What is your opinion of architecture prizes?

Eduardo Souto de Moura: I won’t be modest, I like describing my opinion about them because the profession is so tough and difficult that is it complicated to achieve a high level of quality. So when you’re awarded a prize it’s like a confirmation of your effort. But the other thing is that a project is not the act of an individual, it’s a collective act. When there’s a prize, the press and the people, the “anonymous people,” go see the project and talk about it, critique it. That’s what gives me the motivation to continue in the profession. And every time it gets more difficult.

Winners Announced for 2013 Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design

Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín, Colombia, Courtesy of Harvard GSD

The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) has announced the 11th Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design award winners: ’s Metro do Porto in Porto, , and the Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín, Colombia.

When commenting on the significance of the two prize-winning projects, jury member Micahel Sorkin stated: “If there are lessons to be drawn for urban design from Medellín and Porto, I think the broader lesson has to do with the disruption of the segregation of the disciplines in the design field. Historically we have understood that Landscape Architecture sits in one place, Architecture in another, and Urban Design and Planning [in another, with all three disciplines] in constant conflict about their territorial rights. One of the things that is revolutionary about the Medellín project is that distinguishing among the disciplines is no longer possible.”

More about the prize-winning projects, courtesy of the GSD:

52 Years Later, A Would-Be Urban Planner Responds to Harvard’s Sexist Letter

Courtesy of Phyllis Richman. Published June 6, 2013 on The Washington Post.

In 1961, Phyllis Richman, a student at Brandeis University, was considering applying to the Graduate School of Design’s Department of City and Regional Planning. The response from Professor Doebele, which you can read above, was to question the validity/practicality of her desire to enter into higher education, being, as she would surely be, a future wife and mother.

While today it sounds almost quaint in its blatantly sexist assumptions, Ms. Richman’s letter remains, unfortunately, all too relevant. In her article for The Washington Post, Richman says: “To the extent, Dr. Doebele, that your letter steered me away from city planning and opened my path to writing [a career Richman later describes as "remarkably well-suited to raising children"], one might consider that a stroke of luck. I’d say, though, that the choice of how to balance family and graduate school should have been mine.”

She’s absolutely right, of course; the decision was hers and hers alone to make. However, there’s no avoiding that Richman eventually found success in a job that allowed her to live flexibly as a professional and parent. How many women, and for that matter men, can claim that of architecture? How many architects are convinced, just like Ms. Richman, to pursue success in other, more flexible careers?

More about Richman’s letter, and where comes in, after the break…

Architect Gia Wolff Wins Inaugural Wheelwright Prize

2013 Wheelwright Prize Laureate

Brooklyn-based architect and GSD alumni Gia Wolff has been awarded the $100,000 Wheelwright Prize for her proposal Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats. Now in its first edition, the Wheelwright Prize is a travel grant issued by Harvard University in an effort to foster new forms of architectural research led by cross-cultural engagement.

Mohsen Mostafavi: “The positive response to the Wheelwright Prize has been extraordinary. It is inspiring to see so many talented architects with clear agendas and visions. I am delighted for Gia Wolff, the winner of the prize. Her proposed investigations at the intersection of design, performance, and temporality will surely provide us with new insights and new directions for the future of architecture.”