Italian architect, philosopher, architectural theorist, visionary and design practitioner, Alessandro Mendini, has been selected to receive the 2014 European Prize for Architecture. Awarded annually by the European Centre for Architecture, Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, the European Prize for Architecture aims to recognize “influential architects that have changed and challenged the direction of contemporary architecture today and who have blazoned a more humane and intellectual approach to architecture.”
“Not since Frank Lloyd Wright has the world seen a more theory-driven and profound-thinking architect than Mendini,” said Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, the Museum President of the Chicago Athenaeum, in a press release.
Azerbaijan has recently unveiled the design of “Treasure of Biodiversity,” its dedicated pavilion for Expo Milano 2015, marking the first time the country has participated at a Universal Exposition. Designed by Italian firm Simmetrico Network, the pavilion aims to reflect the unique cultures and landscapes of Azerbaijan while acting as a model of sustainable design. Complete with biospheres and undulating walls, the pavilion’s unique form takes cues from the central Expo theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” and hopes to engage visitors with the values of protected biodiversity.
Four years after winning a competition to rebuild 71 Via Boncompagni in the heart of Rome, MAD Architects has been awarded approval and will now enter the implementation phase of their first European project. This approval will allow the Chinese practice to transform an incongruous 1970s commercial courtyard building into a 145-unit residential complex that reutilizes the building’s “bookshelf” structure by stripping away its facade and inserting new living quarters, giving it an entirely new look and function.
It seems as though the complex case of architectural copyright has been a major talking point of 2014. As the year begins to draw to a close, a fresh tension has risen between two European offices. British practice Wilkinson Eyre have claimed that a central structure at the site of the 2015 Milan Expo is direct plagiarism of their Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay project in Singapore, completed in 2012. According to an article in The Telegraph, the ‘Tree of Life’ will “form the centre-piece of the Italian pavilion” in Milan.
The 2015 Milan Expo has been keeping architecture fans in the loop with “Belvedere in Città,” its continuing series of videos filmed with the help of a drone. Since our update last month, two new videos have been released – and now that the recognizable forms of the pavilions are starting to emerge, the videos include labels for each feature of the expo site. With the help of these new videos it is easy to see the forms of highly-touted pavilions such as Libeskind‘s Vanke Pavilion, or Nemesi & Partners‘ smog-eating pavilion for Italy, gradually taking shape around the twin axes of the “cardo” and “decumanus,” an ancient Roman planning tool borrowed for the site’s masterplan by Jacques Herzog, Mark Rylander, Ricky Burdett, Stefano Boeri, and William McDonough. Read on after the break for the second video, and screenshots of the construction works.
Bosco Verticale by Boeri Studio has won the 2014 International Highrise Award, deeming it to be the “most beautiful and innovative highrise in the world.” Selected from a competitive shortlist of towers by Rem Koolhass, Steven Holl and Jean Nouvel, the forested highrise was praised by the jury for bringing 800 trees and 14 thousand plants to the Milan skyline.
“The Vertical Forest is an expression of the human need for contact with nature,” stated jury president Christoph Ingenhoven. “It is a radical and daring idea for the cities of tomorrow, and without a doubt represents a model for the development of densely populated urban areas in other European countries.”
The Pazzi Chapel is a landmark of architecture in the city that was once the cradle of the Italian Renaissance: Florence. Located in the Santa Croce church complex (the largest Franciscan church in the world), the chapel was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi - the goldsmith-turned-architect who dedicated his life to engineering the dome of Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore. It is “a prime example of 15th-century architectural decoration in grey pietra serena sandstone, colourful maiolica, and terracotta.”
550 years have taken their toll on this structure and its decoration. Concern for the state of the loggia of the chapel is now so great that the non-profit institution in charge of the church’s administration – the Opera di Santa Croce – have raised 50% of the funds needed to carry out a restoration, set to begin in early 2015. They are now looking to crowdfunding to source the remaining half ($95,000) and, in so doing, are inviting people from around the world to become part of the 720-year-long history of Santa Croce.
Fundamentals, the title of the 2014 Venice Biennale, will close its doors in a matter of days (on the 23rd November). From the moment Rem Koolhaas revealed the title for this year’s Biennale in January 2013, asking national curators to respond directly to the theme of ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’, there was an inkling that this Biennale would be in some way special. Having rejected offers to direct the Biennale in the past, the fact that Koolhaas chose to act not only as curator but also thematic co-ordinator of the complete international effort, was significant. This announcement led Peter Eisenman (one of Koolhaas’ earliest tutors and advocates) to state in one interview that “[Rem is] stating his end: the end of [his] career, the end of [his] hegemony, the end of [his] mythology, the end of everything, the end of architecture.”
Adam Nathaniel Furman, architect and winner of this year’s Blueprint Award for Design Innovation, is currently undertaking his tenure as the recipient of the 2014/15 Rome Prize for Architecture at the British School at Rome. His ongoing project, entitled The Roman Singularity, seeks to explore and celebrate Rome as “the contemporary city par-excellence” – “an urban version of the internet, a place where the analogical-whole history of society, architecture, politics, literature and art coalesce into a space so intense and delimited that they collapse under the enormity of their own mass into a singularity of human endeavour.”
In this short essay inspired by the work of Dietrich C Neumann, an architectural historian at Brown University (Providence, RI USA), Furman examines what would have been “the tallest building in the world [...] housing Italy’s new Parliament, lecture halls, meeting rooms, a hotel, library, enormous sports facilities, lighthouse, clock, astronomical observatory, telegraph and telephone stations, [reflecting] sunlight off its acres and acres of white Carrara marble.” In the shadow of Italian Fascism, Mario Palanti saw an opportunity to transform the skyline of the Italian capital by pandering to the egotistical ambitions of a dictator. Ultimately the extent of his vision was matched only by his failure.
With just over two weeks left in the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale, is hosting a one day conference on the intersection between archives, exhibitions and digital integration. Focusing on the themes of the ”dissipation of memory” and the “vulnerability of digital data” in an age of ever-changing technological platforms, the conference is the third in a series of archive-themed events hosted at the Giardini in the Biennale Library, and will feature a screening of Digital Amnesia, a documentary on the lifespan of archival technology, along with a round table discussion with leading archivists and curators from around the world. Panelists include the Mirko Zardini, Director and Chief Curator from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, archive superintendents from three Italian provinces, professors from three Italian universities, and Debora Rossi, the chief archivist for the Venice Biennale.
The event will be live streamed on the Biennale website Today (November 7th) from 10:00am to 6:00pm Central European Time.