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Why NL Architects + BeL's Winning Proposal for Hamburg's St. Pauli Won't Win You Over With Glossy Renders

After the Bolsheviks secured power in Russia in the late 1910s and eventually created the Soviet Union in 1922, one of the first orders of business was a new campaign, Novyi bit (new everyday life), which sought to advance many of the most hallowed causes of their newly minted socialism. The initiative’s great success came from the bold designs of Constructivist artists such as Alexander Rodchenko, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Lyubov Popova. Using a high-contrast visual language and a combination of words and symbols, the graphics were arresting and comprehensible in a post-tsarist country that was largely illiterate, and became some of the most recognizable examples of twentieth century graphics and political propaganda.

It's hard not to see the connection between the styles of the Constructivists and the unusual graphics created by NL Architects in association with BeL (Bernhardt und Leeser) Sozietät für Architektur BDA for their competition-winning proposal for Hamburg’s St. Pauli neighborhood, consisting of an urban plan of housing and other amenities at the former site of Esso Häuser on the Spielbudenplatz. And, while this stylistic connection may not have been intentionally drawn by the architects - the inspiration for the graphics is not mentioned in the four-page project description - it is oddly appropriate for this particular development.

Courtesy of NL Architects Courtesy of NL Architects Courtesy of NL Architects Courtesy of NL Architects

Is There a European Identity in Architecture?

“There is a certain tradition, history, and continuity that you can read in European architecture”
- Spela Videcnik, OFIS arhitekti

A product of context and history, Europe has influenced the architecture world in a way that perhaps no other continent has. The continent is the topic of the latest video from the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, produced in relation to their European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, in which prize-nominated architects from 16 European cities are interviewed on what they believe brings them together, and what makes them different.

As a US citizen who has previously lived in Europe for two years, I was struck by the essential question prompted by the video: “Is there a European identity in architecture?” And if so, what exactly is it? To try to answer this question, I sat down with ArchDaily’s managing editor Rory Stott - a Brit - to debate differing perspectives.

2015 Prize Winner - Philharmonic Hall Szczecin / Barozzi / Veiga. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gym Hall TNW / NL Architects. Image © Luuk Kramer Metropol Parasol / J. Mayer H + Arup. Image © Javier Orive 2013 Prize Winner - Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects & Batteriid Architects. Image Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

NL Architects Propose Striking Chain of Amethyst-Inspired Hotels

Cultures around the world attribute magical properties to the amethyst gem. The lustrous purple quartz is said to bring good fortune, heal illness, and calm the mind. It makes sense, then, that NL Architects have modeled their latest hotel chain proposal after an amethyst geode. Designed based on the original hotel layouts of John Portman, this visually striking tower series aims to serve as a symbol of hospitality and well-being for visitors around the world.


Fast Company Names Top 10 Most Innovative Practices in Architecture

Fast Company has announced who they believe to be the most innovative practices in architecture for 2014. Topping this list is New York’s SHoP Architects who has gone from “boutique to big commissions in only a few years.” See who made the list after the break and let us know who you believe is the world’s most innovative firms in the comment section below. 


ArchDaily has teamed up with Portugal's Canal 180 to bring you their series I LIKE. Check out episode 1, I LIKE Black. The video features RCR Arquitectes' Teatro la Lira, Kumiko Inui's Shin-Yatsushiro Monument, and NL Architects' Wos 8

I LIKE is an original series on architecture and spatial intervention, developed in a collaboration between Canal 180 and LIKEarchitects atelier. Diogo Aguiar and Teresa Otto have created a chromatic experiment and spatial exercise--organized by color--that reveals some of the most amazing architectural interventions in the world. 

Next week ArchDaily will premier the second installment of I LIKE. Stay tuned!

BIG, Kengo Kuma Among Four Visions Unveiled for ARTA Cultural Center in Arnhem

Four international teams have unveiled their shortlisted proposals in the final leg of a highly anticipated competition to design a new “cultural hotspot” on the edge of the Rhine. ArtA, the “catchy” new name of what was previously known as “The Arts Cluster,” is part of a larger redevelopment project for the City of Arnhem which aims to reconnect the southern district of Rijnboog with its waterfront and establish a new home for the Focus Film Theatre and Museum Arnhem. 

A sneak peak of the shortlisted proposals, after the break...

Impressive Shortlist to Compete for "The Arts Cluster" of Arnhem

UPDATE: OMA has reportedly withdrawn from the competition. 

The city of Arnhem, the Netherlands, has revealed an impressive shortlist of five firms who will compete to design a new cultural building for the city, The Arts Cluster, which will combine the Museum Arnhem and Focus Filmtheater Arnhem. 

The five firms selected from 44 entries are: Architecture Studio HH with SO-IL (United States); ABT with the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG, Denmark) with Allard ArchitectureKengo Kuma & Associates(Japan); NL Architects; and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

Bicycle Club / NL Architects

Courtesy of NL Architects
Courtesy of NL Architects

Amsterdam-based NL Architects have been asked to design a Bicycle Club for a large resort in Hainan, China. They have proposed a glass enclosed pavilion capped with a rooftop cycling arena that embodies curves reminiscent of the traditional and functional pagoda. Visitors can rent a bike and join the fun in the open-air velodrome or simply visit the club’s cafe and be entertained while sitting on the large staircases found in the middle of the oval structure.

Continue after the break for more images.

Courtesy of NL Architects Courtesy of NL Architects Courtesy of NL Architects Courtesy of NL Architects

Hallway House / NL Architects

Courtesy of NL Architects
Courtesy of NL Architects

Hallway House, a radical residential project designed by NL Architects, has been conceived within the framework of a ‘match making’ program set up by the Dutch Architecture institute (NAi), together with Housing Corporation VANKE. As a Sino-Dutch collaboration in social housing, NL Architects has created a new concept for high-quality affordable housing on a site in Huilongguan, Beijing. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Recycling+Building Materials

© Paula Bailey -
© Paula Bailey -

In today’s world “going green” has become a top priority in our society, and sustainable buildings and design are at the forefront of this green revolution. While many designers are focusing on passive and active energy systems, the reuse of recycled materials is beginning to stand out as an innovative, highly effective, and artistic expression of sustainable design. Reusing materials from existing on site and nearby site elements such as trees, structures, and paving is becoming a trend in the built environment, however more unorthodox materials such as soda cans and tires are being discovered as recyclable building materials. Materials and projects featured after the break.

Pearl River Necklace / NL Architects

Dutch NL Architects newest bridge is part of their proposal to connect Hong Kong with the mainland of China.  The bridge’s dynamic twisted form is a great resolution to the  differences in driving styles, namely that in Hong Kong, people drive on the left side of the road and in the mainland China, they drive on the right side.

The Silo Competition proposal by NL Architects

Amsterdam City Council recently held ‘The Silo Competition’ which involved the adaptive and reuse design for two former sewage treatment silos in the city’s Zeeburg district.

For the competition NL Architects proposed silos dedicated to climbing, sports and culture. In their design the existing structures were extended to the maximum height to benefit from the views.

The cultural silo consists of two theaters with dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces, spaces for workshops, exhibition spaces, music studios and a space for hair design. A bridge connects the silos at the height of the original roof level and office spaces will be positioned on top. The top level will be dedicated to a restaurant with 360 views and a roof terrace.

Seen at designboom. More images after the break.