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How OMA's Monditalia Paints A Dynamic Portrait of Italy

The component parts of Monditalia, the 41 projects that line the vast corridor of the Arsenale, provide contextualization for architecture operating within larger systems, be it politics, media, border control, religion, etc. When we spoke to Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli of AMO, Monditalia's head curator, he stressed that "the exhibition is a method, more than anything. This idea of the scanning through the country, selecting case studies, selecting another way to represent the case studies…it's a method that can be applied also elsewhere."

Monditalia mobilizes the other sectors of the Venice Biennale -- Cinema, Dance and Music -- in order to capture a "polyphonic" portrait of a European country with what Laparelli describes as "extreme conditions." Infographics produced in preparation for the exhibition demonstrate the statistical disparities between Italy and other nations. The scan of Italy begins from the south and continues to the north, allowing "different topics to collaps[e] or collid[e] onto each other, such as you would find when you travel through a real territory."

Monditalia's events have been programmed to take place between June and November in conjunction with a series of 21 Weekend Specials that allow further exploration of the issues/topics/case studies brought forth in the exhibition at large. 

Watch Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli explain Monditalia in the video above, read on after the break for the curatorial statement, and see the rest of ArchDaily's Biennale coverage here

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh

A Photographic Journey Through Zollverein: Post-Industrial Landscape Turned Machine-Age Playground

Derelict urban landscapes and abandoned spaces have always attracted adventurous explorers, searching for a peek into the world of a fallen industrial dystopia. That desire can be fulfilled by a visit to the Zollverein complex in Essen, Germany: once Europe’s largest coal mine, Zeche Zollverein was transformed over 25 years into an architectural paradise. Contributions by Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and SANAA are included in the 100-hectare park; overwhelming in its complexity, the estate includes rusty pipes, colossal coal ovens and tall chimneys, inviting over 500,000 people per day to gain an insight into the golden age of European heavy-industry.

Join us for a photographic journey through this machine-age playground, after the break…

The Reflective Water Tank at the Coking Factory. Image © Gili Merin The Zollverein School of Management and Design by SANAA. Image © Gili Merin © Gili Merin © Thomas Mayer_Archive

OMA to Refurbish Paris Industrial Building for Galeries Lafayette

OMA has unveiled its latest design project to blend the worlds of fashion and architecture: the refurbishment of a late 19th century industrial building for French high-end retail group Galeries Lafayette’s Fondation d’Entreprise, in Paris.

OMA is no stranger to the world of fashion, having collaborated on bold catwalk designs for Prada over the last decade as well as the renovation of a 16th century palazzo in Venice for Benetton. For Galeries Lafayette, a five-story, U-shaped, courtyard building built in 1891 will be transformed into a space for exhibitions and production. Located in Le Marais, one of Paris’ oldest neighborhoods, the architecture is protected under a heritage preservation plan. The building is to be fully preserved, cleaned and restored, and OMA’s design also includes the construction of a new exhibition tower for the courtyard. The tower will contain two sets of mobile platforms that can be split into four independent platforms, adding additional space and flexibility.

See photos and read a project description from OMA after the break.

Drone Captures OMA'S Taipei Performing Arts Center Under Construction

Construction is underway for OMA’s Taipei’s Performing Arts Center! The project, started back in 2012, has generated a buzz in the architecture community for its peculiar form. Conceived as a number of theaters intersecting as a group of three simple geometries, the Performing Arts Center will provide flexible stage space to host experimental theater and art performances. This video—filmed by a drone—shows some of the preliminary structure that has already been erected. The building is expected to be completed in 2015.

Rem Koolhaas' "Elements": Uncovering Architecture's Origins, Assuring Its Future

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. 

Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh Library of Historial Elemental Studies of Architecture. Elements of Architecture. Image © Nico Saieh

AD Round Up: Happy Bastille Day!

Nova Green / Agence Bernard Bühler. Image © Vincent Monthiers
Nova Green / Agence Bernard Bühler. Image © Vincent Monthiers

The fourteenth of July is Bastille Day, a day that commemorates the start of the French Revolution.  Named for the fortress prison that was stormed by revolutionaries on July 14th, 1789, Bastille Day is celebrated globally both by France and her former colonies, as well as many cities in the US.  In honor of this historic date, we’ve compiled some of our favorite French projects from the past few years.  In this round up you’ll find classics such as the Villa dall’Ava by OMA, as well as fantastic works like Nova Green by Agence Bernard Bühler, Pontivy Media Library and Louviers Music school by Opus 5 architectes, Platform Architecture’s Aquitanis Headquarters, L’Atoll Angers by Antonio Virga Architecte and AAVP Architecture, a Parking Attendant’s Pavilion by Jean-Luc Fugier, Kengo Kuma’s Aix en Provence Conservatory of Music, and Origami by Manuelle Gautrand ArchitectureJoyeux quatorze juillet!

Vive la France: A Round-Up of French AD Classics

In honor of Bastille Day, we've rounded up some of our favorite AD Classics built in France. From Bernard Tschumi's Parc de la Villette to our most popular classic project, Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, take a moment to revisit these renowned works. 

© Hans Werlemann, courtesy OMA © flickr user thearchigeek ©Yuri Palmin © flickr user dalbera

MCHAP Recognizes OMA, Holl, HdM as Finalists for Most Outstanding Projects in the Americas

The  (MCHAP) has just announced the seven finalists - drawn from a shortlist of 36 projects - at an event in Santiago, Chile.

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.

OMA / Ole Scheeren's "The Interlace" Nabs Inaugural CTBUH Urban Habitat Award

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 ArchitectsJeanne 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." 

CTBUH Jurors also recognized Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners' NEO Bankside as a finalist. Read more about the The Interlace and NEO Bankside, after the break.

MCHAP Shortlists the 36 Most “Outstanding Projects” in the Americas

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.

CTBUH Names Its Winners for Best Tall Building 2014

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

One Central Park / Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Image © Michel van de Kar Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / SERA Architects + Cutler Anderson Architects. Image © Nic Lehoux Cayan Tower / SOM. Image © Tim Griffith / SOM De Rotterdam / OMA. Image © Michel van de Kar

A Biennale of Knowledge: Rem Koolhaas on The Importance of the Archive

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.

OMA to Research the Link Between Color and Economic Development

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.

Have We Reached the "End of Architecture"?

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.

Harvard GSD Releases Video of Study Abroad Studio with Rem Koolhaas

"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...

Crafting Urban Life in Three Dimensions: An Interview with Adam Snow Frampton by James Schrader

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.

The Story of Maggie's Centres: How 17 Architects Came to Tackle Cancer Care

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?

Highlands, Scotland, 2005 by Page\Park Architects / Courtesy of Page\Park Architects. ImageA collaboration between Page\Park and Charles Jencks, Maggie's Centre Inverness at Highlands weaves together building and landscape in a unified composition. The design invokes the formal properties of mitosis or cell division; scaled up, they are manifested in the swirling landscape mounds and the center's spiraling form. "The cell is the unit of life: dynamic, really exciting, a factory of life itself, and I thought it was time to celebrate the cell," Jencks has said in the past. Fife, Scotland, 2006 by Zaha Hadid Architects / © Werner Huthmacher. ImageAll sharp angles and painted a sinister black, Zaha Hadid's Fife center isn't the first thing you'd expect from a Maggie's Centre. The exterior invited comparisons to a bunker, despite the airy, humane spaces within. "Zaha got a lot of criticism and her building is bloody good," Jencks says of his former student's design. The building was the architect's first in the UK. Manchester, England, 2016 by Fosters + Partners / Courtesy of Fosters + Partners. ImageThe next center is set to open in Manchester, where Norman Foster was born and raised. “Norman came to us, and I was waiting because he is an old friend of mine,” Jencks says. “He had cancer, and because of his own experiences, he was really interested in doing this. He’s got everything he’s ever wanted in this building.” Aberdeen, Scotland, 2013 by Snøhetta / © Philip Vile . ImageThe center's cocoon-like shell packs a big, Niemeyer-esque punch despite its modest proportions. The interiors, however, reveal a Scandinavian influence, with extensive timber coverings and exquisite stone accents. The building has been nicknamed "the Pebble" by locals.

5 Years Later, A Look Back on OMA's Prada Transformer

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!