Open Letters / Harvard Graduate School of Design

Courtesy of Open Letters

Launched in September 2013 by students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Open Letters is a print experiment that tests the epistolary form as a device for generating conversations about architecture and design. The project stems from an earnest curiosity about what people have to say to each other about architecture, landscapes, cities, ideas, history, practice, experience and learning. 

New issues are released every other Friday, each presenting one open letter, i.e. a letter addressed to a particular party, but intended for publication, about any topic relating to the design disciplines. Past correspondents have written to mentors, chairs, trees, mystical creatures, those in need of advice and to NCARB. All issues can be read online.

PLAT 4.0 Call for Submissions

PLAT Journal invites content for its forthcoming issueMassAt once a spatial and social practice, architecture produces mass: an accumulation that, given momentum, projects a social attitude. Mass is assertive—whether through a tactful manipulation of scale, an astute engagement of its context, or a specific formal legibility, it speaks plainly but with conviction.

Taking as its site the point of exchange between a form and its constituency, this issue of PLAT Journal will investigate how notions of mass come to the fore of contemporary architectural practice.

Mass is pop with agency. Fast and loose, high and low, how does a form take on mass culture through its presence in an urban fabric? What is its agenda?

Mass has the capacity to define a collective. How do architectural projects articulate a plurality in a way that’s relevant to today?

Mass gains coherence through the magnetism of its parts: local attractions have global repercussions. What’s next? How does its impact extend beyond its envelope?

PLAT 4.0 welcomes design projects, abstracts, essays, visual media, narratives, manifestos, and conversations that engage the notion of mass in the discourse and production of architecture today. Please submit an abstract and (if applicable) images by January 1, 2014 to curator@PLATJournal.com. Click here for more information.

Submissions should be in American English and formatted in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style, with all sources clearly documented. Images should be a JPEG, 2 MB or smaller. Authors should have high-resolution, publication-quality images available if selected. All authors must have rights or permissions for all images submitted before final publication. Any questions should be sent to editor@platjournal.com.

PLAT is an independent architectural journal published by students at the Rice School of Architecture. Its purpose is to shift architectural discourse by stimulating new relationships between design, production, and theory. It operates by interweaving student, faculty, and professional work into an open and evolving dialogue that progresses from issue to issue. Curating worldwide submissions in two annual issues, PLAT serves as a projective catalyst for architectural discourse.

The Library: A World History

© Will Pryce

Written by James WP Campbell and featuring stunning photography by Will Pryce, “The Library: A World History” (published by Thames & Hudson 2013) explores the evolution of libraries in different cultures and throughout the ages. It investigates how technical innovations as well as changing cultural attitudes have shaped the designs of libraries from the tablet storehouses of ancient Mesopotamia to today’s multi-functional media centres.

Read on for some insights from the book and more of its beautiful photography

MAS CONTEXT #18: IMPROBABLE

#18: IMPROBABLE; Cover Design by Stephane Massa-Bidal

It is safe to say that architects and planners have always been among those striving for utopian ideals through physical space.  Just look at the 20th century, when designers converged around the idea of creating new cities for lives that embraced new technologies.  We had the Futurists who were obsessed with automobiles, speed and factory cities.  We had CIAM and Team 10 who collectively and individually developed the modernist ideals for housing and urban planning.  We had Archigram that developed conceptual creations for cities that walked, were inflatable, and could be packed and unpacked in locations all over the world.  We had Superstudio, an architecture firm that developed renowned conceptual works of the “total urbanization” of architecture.

As impractical and experimental as some of these proposals were, they initiated a conversation, not only about the physical space that they presented, but the social implications of their designs.  The latest issue of MAS CONTEXT, Improbable, tackles these “unlikely futures envisioned in the past that never became present” and explores how, to various degrees, these impossible and improbable agendas projects came to fruition.   Join as after the break for a closer look at the new issue.

BUILDING: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island / Barney Kulok

In September 2011 Barney Kulok  was granted special permission to create photographs at the construction site of Louis I. Kahnʼs Four Freedoms Park in New York City, commissioned in 1970 as a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The last design Kahn completed before his untimely death in 1974, Four Freedoms Park became widely regarded as one of the great unbuilt masterpieces of twentieth-century architecture. Almost forty years after having been commissioned, it is finally being completed this year, as originally intended. 

LE CORBUSIER REDRAWN: The Houses / Steven Park

(1887-1965) was the most significant architect of the twentieth century. Every architecture student examines the Swiss master’s work. Yet, all too frequently, they rely on reproductions of faded drawings of uneven size and quality. Redrawn presents the only collection of consistently rendered original drawings (at 1:200 scale) of all twenty-six of ’s residential works. Using the original drawings from the Foundation’s digital archives, architect Steven Park has beautifully redrawn 130 perspectival sections, as well as plans, sections, and elevations of exterior forms and interior spaces.

Adaptation: Architecture, Technology, and The City / INABA

Adaptation Publication via

Adaptation: Architecture, Technology and the City is a publication that is a result of the collaboration between INABA and Free that brings interviews and art works into a conversation about the advancement of digital and its place in the built environment. The publication is a fascinating study into the dialogue between technological advancements in transportation and communications and the tangible environment with which is inextricably linked.

Encounters 2 – Architectural Essays / Juhani Pallasmaa

Architecture is fundamentally existential in its very essence, and it arises from existential experience and wisdom rather than intellectualized and formalized theories. We can only prepare ourselves for our work in architecture by developing a distinct sensitivity and awareness for architectural phenomena.” With these declarative words, Finnish architect, educator and critic resounds the call of his 2005 volume, Encounters: Architectural Essays, in this second volume of essays, Encounters 2.

Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park Detroit

Lafayette Park, an affordable middle-class residential area in downtown Detroit, is home to the largest collection of buildings designed by Ludwig in the world. Today, it is one of Detroit’s most racially integrated and economically stable neighborhoods, although it is surrounded by evidence of a city in financial distress. Through interviews with and essays by residents; reproductions of archival material; and new photographs by Karin Jobst, Vasco Roma, and Corine Vermeulen, and previously unpublished photographs by documentary filmmaker Janine Debanné, Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies examines the way that Lafayette Park residents confront and interact with this unique modernist environment.

Eduardo Souto de Moura Sketchbook No.76

Sketchbook No. 76 is the reproduction of a sketchbook of the renowned Portuguese architect and last year’s Pritzker Prize laureate, . The sketchbook was in use between September 2011 and January 2012 and records first ideas, fleeting sketches, studies, and spontaneous jottings that offer a starting point for every project but also function as a working resource. One can quite litterally experience the architectural design process and how developing existing ideas are further developed in different variants. Sketchbook No. 76 is a homage to the medium of drawing and manifests that this working method remains an essential element of the creative process.

Bijoy JAIN-Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award 2012

Rakennustieto is publishing now for the seventh time a monograph on the work of the architect awarded the international Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award. The 2012 winner is Indian architect Bijoy Jain, who together with his office Studio Mumbai Architects combine excellently traditional craftwork and architecture using meagre resources.