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6 Unique Long Weekend Travel Ideas for Architects

09:30 - 27 February, 2017
6 Unique Long Weekend Travel Ideas for Architects

The "architectural pilgrimage" is much more than just everyday tourism. Studying and admiring a building through text and images often creates a hunger in architects, thanks to the space between the limitations of 2D representation and the true experience of the building. Seeing a building in person that one has long loved from a distance can become something of a spiritual experience, and architects often plan vacations around favorite or important spaces. But too often, architects become transfixed by a need to visit the same dozen European cities that have come to make up the traveling architect's bucket list.

The list here shares some sites that may not have made your list just yet. Although somewhat less well known than the canonical cities, the architecture of these six cities is sure to hold its ground against the world's best. The locations here make ideal long weekend trips (depending of course on where you are traveling from), although it never hurts to have more than a few days to really become immersed in a city. We have selected a few must-see buildings from each location, but each has even more to offer than what you see here—so don't be afraid to explore!

Mies van der Rohe's Tower in London That Never Was

07:00 - 6 February, 2017
Mies van der Rohe's Tower in London That Never Was, Vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat
Vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat

In the 1960s James Stirling asked Ludwig Mies van der Rohe why he didn’t design utopian visions for new societies, like those of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City or Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse. Mies replied that he wasn’t interested in fantasies, but only in “making the existing city beautiful.” When Stirling recounted the conversation several decades later it was to the audience of a public enquiry convened in London – he was desperately trying to save Mies’ only UK design from being rejected in planning.

It couldn’t be done: the scheme went unbuilt; the drawings were buried in a private archive. Now, for the first time in more than thirty years, Mies’ Mansion House Square will be presented to the public in both a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)—Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square—and, if it is successful, a book currently being funded through Kickstarter by the REAL foundation.

Vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat Interior vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat Urban plan. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat Vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat +5

The AR Celebrates 50 Years of Venturi's "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture"

06:00 - 4 January, 2017
The AR Celebrates 50 Years of Venturi's "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture", AD Classics: Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi. Image © Maria Buszek
AD Classics: Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi. Image © Maria Buszek

The Architectural Review has recently published an article celebrating the 50th anniversary of Robert Venturi’s book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, which is regarded as one of the most important writings about architecture since Le Corbusier’s Vers une Architecture. In the article, Martino Stierli—Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art—delves into the significance of Venturi’s work, the motivation behind it, its continuing impact, and more. Read the full article at the Architectural Review, here.

14 Short Stories About Architects, Attitudes and Odd Architectural Anecdotes

07:00 - 27 December, 2016
14 Short Stories About Architects, Attitudes and Odd Architectural Anecdotes, Álvaro Siza photographed by Fernando Guerra. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
Álvaro Siza photographed by Fernando Guerra. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

A new collection of five minute-long On Design stories—developed by the team behind Section DMonocle 24's 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft—profile a person, survey a place, or unpack an idea that’s changing or shaping design and architecture today. We've selected fourteen of our favorites from the ongoing series, examining issues as wide as Postmodernism and the architectural competition, to five-minute profiles of Alvaro Siza, Josef Hoffman, Kengo Kuma and Superstudio.

Sin City Embellishment: Expressive or Kitsch?

12:00 - 23 October, 2016
Sin City Embellishment: Expressive or Kitsch?, Randy’s Donuts shop and sign (a “decorated shed”) by Extra Medium (CC BY 2.0). Image via 99 Percent Invisible
Randy’s Donuts shop and sign (a “decorated shed”) by Extra Medium (CC BY 2.0). Image via 99 Percent Invisible

Though the Las Vegas Strip may be garish to some, with its borderline intrusive décor and “pseudo-historical” architecture, some professional architects, most notably Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, have become captivated by the “ornamental-symbolic elements” the buildings present. The two architects developed the curious design distinction between a “duck” and a “decorated shed”, depending on the building’s decorative form. In his essay for 99% Invisible, Lessons from Sin City: The Architecture of “Ducks” versus “Decorated Sheds”, Kurt Kohlstedt explores how the architects implemented their knowledge of ornamentation in their own works and began an architectural debate still ongoing today.  

Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi featuring playful and non-structural ornamentation. Image via 99 Percent Invisible Longaberger Basket Building image by Barry Haynes (CC BY-SA 3.0). Image via 99 Percent Invisible Guild House by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. Image via 99 Percent Invisible “Duck” versus “decorated shed, with Big Duck in Long Island (upper right). Image via 99 Percent Invisible +5

Spotlight: Michael Graves

08:00 - 9 July, 2016
Spotlight: Michael Graves, Portland Building (1982). Image © Wikimedia Commons user Steve Morgan licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Portland Building (1982). Image © Wikimedia Commons user Steve Morgan licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

As a firm believer in the importance of making good design accessible to the public, Michael Graves (July 9, 1934 – March 12, 2015) produced an enormous body of work that included product design alongside his architecture. Graves brought Postmodernism to the public eye through his emphasis on ornament and aesthetics, and stood firmly behind his design philosophy even as it went out of vogue.

AD Classics: Palazzo dei Congressi / Louis Kahn

14:00 - 11 June, 2016
AD Classics: Palazzo dei Congressi / Louis Kahn, Model of the unrealised Palazzo dei Congressi, Venice. Image © Unidentified Source
Model of the unrealised Palazzo dei Congressi, Venice. Image © Unidentified Source

The city of Venice has been caught in a tug of war between progress and traditionalism for many years, and particularly since the construction of a railroad viaduct in 1846 linked the island city to the Italian mainland for the first time in its history.[1] Over a century later, the Venetian government commissioned Louis Kahn to design a new Palazzo dei Congressi for the city; his proposal, while paying respect to the histories of both the Republic of Venice and a unified Italy, could not escape similar controversy.

Model. Image © Unidentified Source This rough site plan for the building (1968-1974) is currently on the FBI's National Stolen Art File. Image via FBI Concept sketches. Image © Unidentified Source Plan of the Congress Hall +8

AD Classics: Bonnefantenmuseum / Aldo Rossi

08:00 - 30 April, 2016
AD Classics: Bonnefantenmuseum / Aldo Rossi, © James Taylor-Foster
© James Taylor-Foster

Situated in a former industrial district in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht, it’s perhaps fitting that the Bonnefantenmuseum has often been called  a “viewing factory.” The museum, with its ‘E’-shaped plan and distinctive domed tower, is one of the most prominent landmarks along the River Meuse that flows around the city center. Europe’s rich cultural history was a key impetus for architect Aldo Rossi’s design, which employed a number of historical architectural gestures to place the Bonnefantenmuseum within a collapsed European canon.

© James Taylor-Foster © James Taylor-Foster © James Taylor-Foster © James Taylor-Foster +16

Spotlight: James Stirling

06:00 - 22 April, 2016
Spotlight: James Stirling, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany (1977–1984), 1984. Alastair Hunter, photographer. . Image Courtesy of Canadian Centre for Architecture
Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany (1977–1984), 1984. Alastair Hunter, photographer. . Image Courtesy of Canadian Centre for Architecture

British architect and Pritzker Laureate Sir James Stirling (22 April 1926 – 25 June 1992) grew up in Liverpool, one of the two industrial powerhouses of the British North West, and began his career subverting the compositional and theoretical ideas behind the Modern Movement. Citing a wide-range of influences - from Colin Rowe, a forefather of Contextualism, to Le Corbusier, and from architects of the Italian Renaissance to the Russian Constructivist movement - Stirling forged a unique set of architectural beliefs that manifest themselves in his works. Indeed, his architecture, commonly described as "non-comformist", consistently caused annoyance in conventional circles.

AD Classics: Dutch Parliament Extension / OMA

04:00 - 22 April, 2016
AD Classics: Dutch Parliament Extension / OMA, © OMA
© OMA

Designed shortly before Zaha Hadid left the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)—led by Rem Koolhaas—to found her practice, Zaha Hadid Architects, the proposed extension for the Dutch Parliament firmly rejects the notion that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Rather than mimic the style of the existing historic buildings, OMA elected to pay tribute to the complex’s accretive construction by inserting a collection of visibly postmodern, geometric elements. These new buildings, unapologetic products of the late 1970s, would have served as unmistakable indicators of the passage of time, creating a graphic reminder of the Parliament’s long history.

"The Final Push". Image Courtesy of A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd. Courtesy of A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd. "The Podium: Accommodation for Orgies of Speech". Image Courtesy of A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd. Elevations. Image Courtesy of A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd. +9

Terry Farrell Among Speakers at Forthcoming Conference on Postmodernism

04:00 - 23 March, 2016
Terry Farrell Among Speakers at Forthcoming Conference on Postmodernism, James Stirling's No.1 Poultry, London. Image © Flickr user merula licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
James Stirling's No.1 Poultry, London. Image © Flickr user merula licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The British Twentieth Century Society (C20) have announced a forthcoming conference in London on Postmodernism. Speakers including Sir Terry Farrell, Piers Gough and Charles Holland (Ordinary Architecture) will join Alan Powers, Emily Gee and Elain Harwood of Historic England to "raise the profile of Britain’s best Postmodernist buildings following concerns over proposed changes to leading examples of this much maligned style."

These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist "Solidarity" Movement

09:30 - 7 March, 2016
These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist "Solidarity" Movement

For nearly two millennia, European architecture was closely affiliated with and shaped by Christianity. Prior to the advent of Modernism, there was scarcely a style that was not promoted, or more likely defined, by the designs of churches. Such a hypothesis makes it difficult to imagine Medieval England outside the purview of Gothic Cathedrals, or Renaissance Italy as separate from its Basilicas. But with the Industrial Revolution and the economic and population growth that ensued, infrastructure and housing became the new symbols and necessities of cultural representation, finding their ultimate expression in the ease and simplicity of Modernism. The field of architecture, so long shaped and dominated by the church, had been subsumed by the changing concerns of a commercially driven society. Of course there were still churches being built, but the typology that once defined architecture in its ubiquity became novel and rare. Or so we’ve all been lead to believe.

Surprising as it might be, in the wake of World War II and under Soviet control, Poland built more churches than any other country in Europe. The majority were built in the 1980s, at a time when church construction was neither authorized nor forbidden, and as a result played a pronounced role in Cold War politics. The construction of these churches was a calculated affront to the proletariat-minded Modernism of the Soviets. In their project Architecture of the VII Day, Kuba Snopek, Iza Cichońska and Karolina Popera have sought to comprehensively document these Polish churches and the circumstances of their construction. Unique not only in how they defied the prefabrication and regularity of the Eastern Bloc, the churches were community-led endeavors that relied on local funding and input, long before these practices became buzzwords in 21st century architectural circles.

© Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko +78

AD Classics: Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery London / Venturi Scott Brown

04:00 - 10 February, 2016
AD Classics: Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery London / Venturi Scott Brown, The Sainsbury Wing as seen from Trafalgar Square. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis
The Sainsbury Wing as seen from Trafalgar Square. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis

Venturi Scott-Brown’s National Gallery Sainsbury Wing extension (1991) was born into a precarious no-man’s land between the warring camps of neo-Modernists and traditionalists who had been tussling over the direction of Britain’s cities for much of the prior decade. The site of the extension had come to be one of the most symbolic battlefields in British architecture since a campaign to halt its redevelopment with a Hi-Tech scheme by Ahrends Burton Koralek had led to that project’s refusal at planning in 1984.

The 'Echo Façade'. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis Ground floor lobby with rustication. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis © Valentino Danilo Matteis Stairway. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis +17

Plans For a New Ultra-Postmodern 'Colossus of Rhodes' Are Brewing

04:00 - 29 December, 2015
Plans For a New Ultra-Postmodern 'Colossus of Rhodes' Are Brewing, Proposed: a new Colossus of Rhodes. Image © Ari A. Palla / Colossus of Rhodes Project
Proposed: a new Colossus of Rhodes. Image © Ari A. Palla / Colossus of Rhodes Project

The Colossus of Rhodes, a thirty-metre high sculpture depicting the Greek Titan God Helios that once stood guard at the entrance to the city's harbour, may be realised once again. Standing for only 54 years until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226BC, its position in the ranks of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World has become almost mythological. Plans to construct a new, much larger inhabitable statue—that will stand almost four times taller at 122 metres—have now been put in motion by a small collective of architects, engineers, and tourism agents.

When Art, Architecture and Commerce Collided: The BEST Products Showrooms by SITE

09:30 - 7 December, 2015
When Art, Architecture and Commerce Collided: The BEST Products Showrooms by SITE

According to one survey, images of the BEST Products Showroom in Houston, Texas, designed by SITE (Sculpture in the Environment), appeared in more books on 20th-century architecture than any other building. The intentionally crumbling brick at that Houston store, known as “Indeterminate Façade,” and the eight other showrooms SITE designed, were simultaneously iconic and controversial, and most importantly for BEST, they brought in customers. Although SITE-founder James Wines never considered himself a Postmodernist architect, his designs for BEST, completed between 1972 and 1984, steeped in whimsical social commentary, came to symbolize the essence of Postmodernism. Today, all but one of the BEST showrooms have been demolished or altered beyond recognition, but they set a lasting precedent, and continue to influence the use of architecture in corporate branding today.

Cutler Ridge Building. Image © SITE Notch Building Plan/Elevation. Image © SITE Inside/Outside Building. Image © SITE Forest Building. Image © SITE +40

Do Architectural Preservationists Know What They’re Fighting For?

11:00 - 28 November, 2015
Do Architectural Preservationists Know What They’re Fighting For?, Earlier this year, a plan to alter James Stirling's No.1 Poultry caused a heated discussion. Image © Flickr user merula licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Earlier this year, a plan to alter James Stirling's No.1 Poultry caused a heated discussion. Image © Flickr user merula licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

If there’s one thing that can get the architectural community up in arms, it’s the threat of demolition being placed over a much-loved building. Whether it’s a 44-year-old bus station, a 38-year-old hospital, or even a 12-year-old art museum, few other news stories can raise such a sustained outcry. And recently, some have started to turn their eyes toward the next wave of preservation battles: the upcoming crop of Postmodern buildings which are increasingly being placed under threat. But in all of these heated debates about preservation, do people really know what they’re arguing for?

A Utopian Dream Stood Still: Ricardo Bofill's Postmodern Parisian Housing Estate of Noisy-le-Grand

04:00 - 1 October, 2015
A Utopian Dream Stood Still: Ricardo Bofill's Postmodern Parisian Housing Estate of Noisy-le-Grand, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014. Image ©  Laurent Kronental
Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014. Image © Laurent Kronental

East of Paris, in Seine-Saint-Denis, sits a "Babel-like" housing estate. Its otherworldly atmosphere—existing somewhere between a 'new world' utopian dream and a postmodern, neoclassical housing estate—has set the scene for two Hollywood films including Brazil (1984) and, more recently, the upcoming second instalment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (2015). Parisian photographer Laurent Kronental's photo series, Souvenir d'un Futur (Memory of a Future), is an homage to the senior citizens of the French capital's Grand Ensemble region — not only in Noisy-le-Grand but across the Parisian banlieue. His photographs capture a number of places and their people which, in spite of their often megalomaniacal architectural settings, have been comparatively overlooked.

See Laurent Kronental's photo series—the result of four years of visits—after the break.

Les Orgues de Flandre, 19e arrondissement Paris, 2014. Image ©  Laurent Kronental Le Pavé Neuf, Noisy-le-Grand, 2015. Image ©  Laurent Kronental Joseph, 88 ans, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014. Image ©  Laurent Kronental Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014. Image ©  Laurent Kronental +20

History For Sale: Postmodern Vanna Venturi House on the Market

16:00 - 17 July, 2015
History For Sale: Postmodern Vanna Venturi House on the Market, AD Classics: Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi. Image © Maria Buszek
AD Classics: Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi. Image © Maria Buszek

Robert Venturi's Vanna Venturi House is now for sale. According to reports on Curbed, the postmodern home could be yours for just $1.75 million! Said to be one of the top 10 buildings that "changed America," the house was originally designed and built by the Pritzker Prize laureate for his mother in 1964. The home's most recent owner, University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Thomas P. Hughes passed away February, leaving the historic residence to his daughter who is now selling the home.