In June we covered some of the anti-government protests that were taking Turkey by storm – but the Turks are still making headlines! Last week, one Istanbul resident decided to paint a derelict public stair only to find it hastily covered up by government workers. In an act of “guerilla beautification” and silent protest, people across Turkey have once again taken to the streets to paint their stairs and public walkways in rainbow colors. For the full story, check out this article on The Lede by Robert Mackey.
Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano has been named a senator for life by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, giving him the right to vote in the Parliament’s Upper House. Napolitano also appointed three others to the position, including Claudio Abbado (an accomplished conductor), Elena Cattaneo (a biologist specializing in stem cell research), and Carlo Rubbia (a Nobel Prize winning particle physicist).
In a statement, the president said that he is sure that all four ‘”will make a special contribution to their extremely significant fields,” noting that the positions were allocated “in absolute independence of any party political considerations” in wake of the Senate’s current tension surrounding former President Silvio Berlusconi.
Dharavi – Asia’s largest slum of one million with an average density of 18,000 residents per acre – is amidst a heated debate between its people, the government and private investors as it sits on some of India’s hottest real estate in Mumbai. While the government is grappling for solutions on how to successfully dismantle the low-rise slum and relocate its residents to a high-rise podium style typology, the investor’s profit-driven approach has placed residents on the defense, “rendering Dharavi a perfect storm of contested urbanism,” as architect, urban designer and author William Hunter describes.
In light of this, we would like to direct you to an interview by Andrew Wade of Polis in which discusses Dharavi’s dire situation and the motivation behind Hunter’s new book, Contested Urbanism in Dharavi: Writings and Projects for the Resilient City. Read the interview in its entirety here and read a recap on Dharavi’s situation here.
In an effort to protect Turkey’s historic skylines from uncontrolled urbanization, the Turkish Parliament has passed an amendment that would grant zoning authority to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization as well as set up an aesthetic architectural commission. Continue reading to learn more.
The Southbank Centre and Feilden Clegg Bradley have taken their designs back to the drawing board, deciding to delay their planning application in order to resolve the mounting issues surrounding the proposal.
The designs to update the brutalist cultural centre have divided people from the start; however, the tide of opinion seems to have definitively shifted away from the design due to a sustained campaign by skateboarders (who make use of the undercroft) and now criticism from the neighboring National Theatre and the UK design council CABE.
Read more about the controversy surrounding the Southbank Centre after the break…
The efforts of thousands who occupied Gezi Park, and those who joined them in solidarity via social media from around the world, have paid off. According to Reuters, a Turkish court has ruled against the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan-backed development in which proposed to redesign Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square and replace one of the populated city’s few public parks with a mall.
In a few weeks the Senate will likely vote on an amendment that would remove the 2030 sustainability targets for federal buildings that many architects and US citizens fought to put into motion six years ago. The AIA has requested for your help to prevent this and coordinate visits with Senators while they are back home during the Independence holiday recess next week. Please visit the AIA website here to see how you can help protect federal sustainability targets.
Despite harsh criticism and a lingering threat from the House to scrap funding and start anew, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has unanimously approved Frank Gehry’s design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington DC. The $110 million project, nearly fourteen years in the making, has undergone numerous revisions in the past couple years in search of a compromise between the commission and its opposition, namely the Eisenhower family.
Though the odds started to lean in the opposition’s favor, the commission is pressing forward with their plans and Gehry is expected to present his design to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts next month and the National Capital Planning Commission in early fall for review and approval.
Architecture emerges with every “occupy” movement or protest. From whatever meager resources at hand, occupiers create structures to fulfill very specific purposes – from makeshift tents for sleeping, to instant podiums for speaking, or perhaps even a swing to kill the time. Unfortunately, these architectures are, by their very nature, fleeting: often disappearing instantly the moment the occupation ends.
However, thanks to a non-profit in Istanbul, the temporary structures that dotted Taksim Square a few weeks ago have been preserved for posterity. Herkes İçin Mimarlık, or ”Architecture for All,” is devoted to offering architectural solutions to social problems facing Turkey today and promoting a participatory design process in architecture. They’ve created a tumblr called #occupygezi architecture where you can see all the temporary structures of Taksim Square in both photographs and detailed drawings.
In the wake of Pritzker’s refusal to retroactively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown’s role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Board of Directors have voted to expand the prestigious Gold Medal award’s criteria to include either an individual or two individuals working together in a collaborative partnership. In order to be considered, partners must have created a singular body of distinguished architectural work.
As if architects in Spain weren’t struggling enough – what with the Crisis closing half the country’s studios and putting over 25% of Spanish architects out of work - a new law could now render Spanish architects effectively unnecessary.
A preliminary document reveals that, if passed, The Law of Professional Services (LSP) will modify labor regulations in order to allow engineers, or really any one “competent” in construction, to take on the work of architects:
“Exclusivity is eliminated. Architects or engineers with competency in construction will be able to design and direct projects, including residential, cultural, academic or religious buildings. [...] If a professional is competent enough to execute one building’s construction, it is understood that he/she will also be capable of executing other kinds of buildings, regardless of its intended use.”
Unsurprisingly, Spanish architects have risen up against the law, mobilizing both physical protests as well as social media campaigns. Even Pritzker-Prize winner Rafael Moneo has offered his opinion on the matter…Hear what Moneo has to say, after the break…
Over the last two weeks, the world has witnessed history unfold in a small park in the heart of Istanbul, Taksim Square. What started out as a peaceful protest to save Gezi Park and its trees from destruction has turned into a country-wide (and, to some degree, worldwide) movement that rejects the ever-increasing autocratic tendencies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The urban policies and projects that PM Erdogan and his government have been loutishly implementing in Istanbul offer only a few examples of the way this government has manifested its undemocratic attitudes. In that regard, it would be misleading to consider the protest over Taksim and Gezi Park as an isolated incident. Instead, development over Istanbul’s quintessential square constitutes the last straw in a series of neo-liberal policies, themselves the result of a century of history, that have shaped Istanbul over the course of the last decade.
More after the break…
After four years of high-brow debate, the demise of the controversial Hirshhorn ‘Bubble’ has been confirmed. The decision, made by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough and Undersecretary Richard Kurin, comes shortly after the Hirshhorn board’s split vote resulted in the resignation of director Richard Koshalek – the man behind the ‘Bubble’.
The American Institute of Architects today released a letter from more than 350 different associations and companies expressing opposition to efforts by special interests to gut energy conservation requirements for federal buildings.
The letter, which is addressed to Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, was released one week ahead of the scheduled mark-up of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee May 8.
That legislation, introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would promote greater use of energy efficiency technology in commercial and residential buildings and by manufacturers.
For the past four decades, as cities faced financial pressures, high-rise public housing met its decline. Cities throughout the country demolished public housing that was failing financially and socially, like Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Housing Project whose demolition was completed in 2011, to make way for mixed use developments that encouraged economic and social diversity by way of the HOPE VI Program. This strategy resulted in the uprooting and relocation of former residents who faced uncertainty throughout the process.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) stands out among housing authorities in the United States due to its size – 179,000 units in 2,600 buildings across the city – and the fact that the buildings are relatively well maintained. NYCHA has avoided resorting to demolitions to deal with its issues, instead resorting to special police services that costs NYCHA a purported $70 million a year. Over the past decade NYCHA has been underfunded by approximately $750 million causing backlogs in necessary repairs.
To address the mounting costs of public housing, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has proposed an infill strategy that would attract developers onto NYCHA land and create a new layer of commercial space and residential units in public housing developments. The goal over the next five years is to develop methods of preservation for the housing development and promote mixed-use and mixed-income developments to generate income for NYCHA.
More on the plan after the break.
Britain’s Education Secretary Michael Gove and the Department for Education have released blueprints for the baseline design for schools that they believe “demonstrate good practice that can be achieved within [a] set cost and area allowances.” The government’s goal is to reduce the cost of new school buildings from the previous £21m to less than £14m each for the replacement of 261 of the most run-down schools in the country.
These new schools, however, will be 15% smaller than the ones designed originally under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) program, potentially compromising important spaces such as corridors, assembly halls, canteens and atriums. Many teachers have expressed concern for these changes, as they could lead to congestion, bad behavior among students and would “undermine attempts to maximize the value for money of school buildings by making them available for community functions after hours.”
Architects and the architecture community at large are also worried about the design implications of such a standardized school building prototype – how will it interact with the existing school buildings and how could restricted design affect Britain’s educational system?
More after the break…
Scheduled to be the tallest tower in China and the second tallest building in the world by 2015, Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 660-meter-high Ping’an International Finance Center has received a major unexpected set back. Following an industrywide inspection conducted last week, Shenzhen government officials have discovered a low-quality sea sand has been used by developers to create substandard concrete for KPF’s supertall skyscraper and at least 15 other buildings under construction.
Although sea sand lures contractors by costing significantly less than standard river sand, it contains a deadly mixture of salt and chloride that corrodes steel in concrete and threatens the structural integrity of a building over time.
According to Bloomberg, Shenzhen’s Housing and Construction Bureau found 31 companies violated industry rules and ordered eight of them to suspend business for one year in the city for using substandard sea sand to make concrete.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial saga continues, as Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed legislation that would forego Frank Gehry’s controversial design and eliminate federal funding. Although Bishop’s radical bill would save $100 million in future funding, it ignores any possibility of compromise.
In response, the AIA stated: