ArchDaily has been asking architects ”What is Architecture?” for over 6 years. It’s a question that few interviewees answer without hesitation or bristling. But after asking over 200 architects, we’ve noticed a pattern: even though many people start very similarly, the answers soon diverge in a way that demonstrates the promise of the profession. And no matter how architecture is defined, the strong majority of architects hold an underlying belief in its ability to influence.
When the ArchDaily team visited the Venice Biennale and entered the Central Pavilion of the Giardini, home to the Elements exhibition, we saw it as a dynamic, immersive, exhaustive response to the question “What is Architecture?” Visitors to the Biennale are introduced to architecture through its elements–the pieces, parts and fundamentals that comprise built structures around the globe.
When Koolhaas chose to focus on Elements, he produced a text (in both book and exhibition format) that gives us the tools to understand what architecture is and how is it has evolved (or stagnated). Even though he didn’t invite people to show projects in the traditional sense, the AD editors saw a hopeful undertone to Elements — it is a resource that can be revisited over and over again, one that will arm the current and future designers of our built world with the knowledge they’ll need to address the issues they have yet to even confront.
After the break, see images of the exhibition and read Koolhaas’ curatorial statement.
To determine the finalists, the five jury members – Francisco Liernur, Sarah Whiting, Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, and Kenneth Frampton - spent the last twelve days visiting projects, speaking with the architects, users and owners of the spaces, and entering into intense debate among each other.
As jury member Dominique Perrault noted, “There’s a lot of means by which to evaluate projects – models, drawings, images – but we took all opportunities to test the quality of the architecture. In the end, only by visiting can you sense the ‘touch of god’ – the presence of the building itself in the context.”
The resulting finalists show tremendous variety – in terms of scale, place, typology, program, materials, etc. – making the task of choosing a winner all the more challenging. See all seven finalists, as well as a video of Kenneth Frampton discussing the selection process, after the break.
CTBUH, the organization best known for its Tall Building Awards, has announced the winner of its inaugural Urban Habitat Award: OMA / Ole Scheeren’s The Interlace in Singapore. The jurors, including Studio Gang Architects‘ Jeanne Gang, praised the apartment complex, which includes communal gardens and spaces on the roofs and in between the apartment blocks, for responding to its tropical context and “integrating horizontal and vertical living frameworks.”
Wiel Arets, Dean of the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Dirk Denison, Director of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP), have announced the inaugural MCHAP shortlist – 36 “Outstanding Projects” selected from the 225 MCHAP nominees.
“The rich diversity of these built works is a testament to the creative energy at work in the Americas today,” said Arets. “When viewed alongside the innovative work by the MCHAP.emerge finalists and winner, Poli House by Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen which we honored in May, we see the evolution of a distinctly American conversation about creating livable space.” See all 36 winners after the break.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced the regional winners of its 2014 Best Tall Building award. Chosen from a selection of 88 nominees, the four winning buildings will go on to compete for the Best Tall Building Worldwide Award, due to be announced in December.
The winners and finalists this year show significant diversity in form, function and philosophy; normally low-rise typologies such as education, green buildings, renovations and boundary-pushing shapes have all made the list. Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang and Chair of the jury, said: “The submissions this year… reflect the dawning of a global recognition that tall buildings have a critical role to play in a rapidly changing climate and urban environment.”
Read on after the break for the full list of winners and finalists
Curated by Rem Koolhaas, this year’s Biennale set high expectations in the architecture world, a fact reflected in the massive attendance during the preview. As Koolhaas stated at the awards ceremony, he took on the hard task of reinventing the Biennale, recognizing its influence in how architecture is exhibited around the world.
Under the title “Fundamentals,” Rem rallied this year’s curators to assemble a vast amount of knowledge, bringing to light research that had been hidden, forgotten, scattered, and/or previously unexamined, and making it available to the larger architectural community. This was achieved not only in the form and content of the Biennale, but also in the numerous publications produced by the curators (a practice which closely follows OMA/AMO traditions).
Yet this is actually a double-edged sword; in many pavilions, the density and depth of the content made it hard to understand at first glance. Architecture festivals and exhibitions tend to lean on experiential one-liners, but since “Fundamentals” was so focused on conveying ideas about architecture’s relationship to modernity over the past 100 years, it was a significant challenge to the curators. Many pavilions produced impressive publications, so that all the rich knowledge they unearthed may continue to influence architectural thought long after the Biennale ends in November.
Paint company AkzoNobel has announced plans to fund a global research project by OMA which will investigate the link between color and economic development. The project is part of AkzoNobel’s wider ‘Human Cities’ initiative, which they say “highlights our commitment to improving, energizing and regenerating urban communities across the world.”
The announcement was made at the Venice Architecture Biennale last week. Read on for more on the research initiative.
Yesterday, US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced OMA, BIG and four other teams as the winner of “Rebuild by Design“, a competition aimed at rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Sandy focusing on resilience, sustainability and and livability.
Read more about the winning schemes after the break
This year’s Venice Biennale, curated by OMA’s Rem Koolhaas, is “interested in the banal”. In an article in the Financial Times’, Edwin Heathcote discusses the paradox between exploring generic modernism at an event which celebrates the individual. Heathcote raises interesting questions about the extent to which world architecture has developed in modernity, ultimately arguing that, “in a way, architecture is over.” You can read the article, which neatly investigates the curatorial rationale behind this year’s Biennale, in full here.
“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 Harvard GSD has released a video from the Fall 2013 study abroad studio in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 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…
The following are excerpts from one of 41 interviews that student researchers at the Strelka Institute are publishing as part of the Future Urbanism Project. In this interview, James Schrader speaks with Adam Snow Frampton, the co-author of Cities Without Ground and the Principal of Only If, a New York City-based practice for architecture and urbanism. They discuss his work with OMA, the difference between Western and Asian cities, his experiences opening a new firm in New York, and the future of design on an urban scale.
James Schrader: Before we get to future urbanism, I thought it would be interesting to look a bit into your past. Could you tell me about where your interest in cities came from? Were there any formative moments that led to your fascination with cities?
Adam Snow Frampton: I was always interested in cities, but not necessarily exposed to much planning at school. When I went to work at OMA Rotterdam, I was engaged in a lot of large-scale projects, mostly in the Middle East and increasingly in Asia, where there was an opportunity to plan cities at a bigger scale. In the Netherlands, there’s not necessarily more construction than in the US, but there is a tradition of thinking big and a tendency to plan. For instance, many Dutch design offices like OMA, West 8, and MVRDV have done master plans for the whole country.
Maggie’s Centres are the legacy of Margaret Keswick Jencks, a terminally ill woman who had the notion that cancer treatment environments and their results could be drastically improved through good design. Her vision was realized and continues to be realized today by numerous architects, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta - just to name a few. Originally appearing in Metropolis Magazine as “Living with Cancer,” this article by Samuel Medina features images of Maggie’s Centres around the world, taking a closer look at the organization’s roots and its continued success through the aid of architects.
It was May 1993, and writer and designer Margaret Keswick Jencks sat in a windowless corridor of a small Scottish hospital, dreading what would come next. The prognosis was bad—her cancer had returned—but the waiting, and the waiting room, were draining. Over the next two years until her death, she returned several times for chemo drips. In such neglected, thoughtless spaces, she wrote, patients like herself were left to “wilt” under the desiccating glare of fluorescent lights.
Wouldn’t it be better to have a private, light-filled space in which to await the results of the next bout of tests, or from which to contemplate, in silence, the findings? If architecture could demoralize patients—could “contribute to extreme and mental enervation,” as Keswick Jencks observed—could it not also prove restorative?
This is the central idea behind the experiment Keswick Jencks, or “Maggie,” started with her husband, architectural historian and theorist Charles Jencks, more than two decades ago. Their mission—to provide free, global care for cancer patients through great architecture—has since expanded to encompass 17 building projects (“Maggie’s Centres”), many of them by celebrated architects like Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of OMA’s Prada Transformer. This fantastical temporary structure, erected in 2009 adjacent to Gyeonghui Palace in Seoul, Korea, is one of Rem Koolhaas’ most popular projects to date. Composed of a stark white membrane stretched across four steel frame shapes, The Transformer was often referred to as an “anti-blob” –a hexagon, a rectangle, a cross, and a circle leaning against each other to create a tetrahedron-like object reminiscent of a circus tent. The name Transformer came from the idea that any one of the pavilion’s sides could serve as the building’s floor, allowing for four unique spaces in one building devoted to exhibitions of modern art, fashion and design.
The Prada Transformer played host to four such events, being lifted up and repositioned onto a different face each time via crane. The first was a garment exhibition, displayed using the hexagonal floor plan. The second, a film festival that took place on the rectangular floor plan. A fashion show was staged using the Transformer’s circular floor plan, and an art installation was shown using the cruciform floor plan. As patron Miuccia Prada stated in an interview with The New York Times, “In my mind they [the arts] may be mixed but I want to keep them separate… So the Transformer concept was not for a generic space, but to be very specific, with all things separate in one building.”
We asked OMA’s Vincent McIlduff to tell us more about this project. See his answers, a photo gallery and a time-lapse video of the transformation after the break!
A jury of seven, consisting of three architects and four Statoil employees, unanimously chose Wingårdhs’ design proposal—dubbed “E=mc2″—for the company’s campus at Forus West in Norway. Four other firms were shortlisted along with Wingårdhs: Foster + Partners (UK) together with Space Group (Norway), OMA (the Netherlands), Snøhetta (Norway) and Helen & Hard (Norway) together with SAHAA (Norway). OMA, however, pulled out of the competition before the final submission.
The competition consisted of a proposal for an office building for 3500 work places and a masterplan for the entire Statoil property at Forus West. Wingårdhs’ design features an elliptical, chamfered building that tapers to 16 stories, set within a masterplan that will give the company a high degree of flexibility for future development. Statoil announced on Thursday that “The jury sees the potential for [E=mc2"] to be a distinct identity carrier for Statoil, which will both strengthen the Forus area and give Statoil employees pride and inspiration. The project has a significant innovative nature through advanced technological solutions, which fits well with Statoil as a leading technology company. Its clear inclined surface towards the sun is suitable for Statoil’s energy and environmental ambitions.”
More information about Wingårdhs’ winning proposal and images of the other teams’ proposals can be found after the break.
ArchDaily has teamed up with Portugal’s Canal 180 to bring you their series I LIKE. Check out episode 5, I LIKE Blue, which features OMA/AMO‘s 2012 Prada Catwalk, DOSE‘s Bluetube Bar, Rad Louda & WRKSHP’s full-scale blue foam model of an interior, and more.
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 sixth installment of I LIKE. Stay tuned!
Location: Joan Muyskenweg 39, 1099 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Architect In Charge: Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf, Ellen van Loon
Current Team (Construction + Interiors): Katrien van Dijk (project leader), Tjeerd van de Sandt, Saskia Simon, Marina Cogliani, Jung-Won Yoon
Area: 19000.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of OMA – G-Star