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Coup De Grâce

04:00 - 19 April, 2016
Coup De Grâce, City of London. Image © Jason Hawkes
City of London. Image © Jason Hawkes

The following article was first published by Volume Magazine in their 47th issue, The System*. You can read the Editorial of this issue, How Much Does Your System Weigh?here.

Neoliberal post-fordism poses a dramatic challenge to urbanism as we have come to know it since the early 20th century. The public planning process has become more and more an embarrassment and obstacle to urban and economic flourishing. It’s a relic of a bygone era. The high point of urban planning was the post-war era of socialist planning and re-construction of the built environment. With respect to this period we can speak about physical or perhaps ‘positive planning’, in the sense of governments formulating concrete plans and designs about what to build. This era has long gone as society evolved beyond the simple fordist society of mechanical mass production to our current post-fordist networked society. When a few basic standards were functionally separate, optimized and endlessly repeated, central planning could still cope with the pace of societal progress. The world we live in today is far too multi-faceted, complex and dynamic to be entrusted to a central planning agency. The old model broke apart as it could not handle the level of complexity we live with and our cities should accommodate. The decentralized information processing mechanism of the market was indeed capable of managing such levels of complexity and, for this reason, has effectively taken over all positive decision-making processes.

Max Show Center / PRAXiS d'ARCHITECTURE

05:00 - 10 October, 2015
Max Show Center / PRAXiS d'ARCHITECTURE, © Jin Fengzhe
© Jin Fengzhe
  • Architects

  • Location

    Qingdao, Shandong, China
  • Design Team

    Di Shaohua, Huo Junlong, Liu Xing, Feng Shuxian
  • Client

    Gold Concord Investment
  • Collaborator

    CSCEC
  • Area

    1800.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2015
  • Photographs

    Jin Fengzhe, Courtesy of Praxis d'Studio

Courtesy of Praxis d'Studio © Jin Fengzhe Courtesy of Praxis d'Studio © Jin Fengzhe +18

A2M, Jaspers-Eyers Architects and BAG Design Eco-Neighborhood for Belgium

06:00 - 12 June, 2015
A2M, Jaspers-Eyers Architects and BAG Design Eco-Neighborhood for Belgium, Urban Context. Image Courtesy of A2M
Urban Context. Image Courtesy of A2M

Association Bureau A2M, Jaspers-Eyers Architects and Bureau d’Architecture Greish's (BAG) proposal for an “eco-neighborhood” in Liège, Belgium, has been unanimously selected by a jury in a competition to design a mixed-use real-estate project. Dubbed “Paradis Express,” the design incorporates offices, housing and local shops and will occupy a 35,000m2 site located along a future esplanade across from Guillemins station, and next to the new Finance Tower. The competition was held by Fedimmo, in consultation with the city of Liège and the Walloon Region.

Exterior View. Image Courtesy of A2M Roof Garden. Image Courtesy of A2M Exterior View. Image Courtesy of A2M Aerial View. Image Courtesy of A2M +17

Homes You Cannot Live in: The New Cost of Architectural Antiques

00:00 - 20 August, 2014
Homes You Cannot Live in: The New Cost of Architectural Antiques , The Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe, 1951. Plano, Illinois. Image Courtesy of Blouin Art Info
The Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe, 1951. Plano, Illinois. Image Courtesy of Blouin Art Info

What is the true value of architecture in today's society? According to this article by Anna Katz, rare pieces of architectural history have recently soared in value. Katz discusses the booming world of architecture at auction, featuring pieces by Mies Van Der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright among others. The article gracefully compares some of the most important architecture of our time against current real estate prices, exploring the catalyst of rising values in architecture of the recent past, while deliberating on the pitfalls of owning a delicate piece of architecture history. Read the story in full on Blouin Art Info.

Why is it So Expensive to Build in London?

00:00 - 16 August, 2014

London is the world’s most expensive city to build in, but the reasons may surprise you. The city is well known for its high cost of living despite being far less crowded than cities such as Tokyo and New York. In fact, commercial real estate in London’s West End costs nearly twice as much as similarly sized spaces on New York’s Madison Avenue.

The New York City Cantilever: If You Can’t Go Up, Go Out

00:00 - 3 February, 2014
The New York City Cantilever: If You Can’t Go Up, Go Out, 35XV Residences. Image Courtesy of FXFOWLE
35XV Residences. Image Courtesy of FXFOWLE

New York City’s notoriously space-hungry real estate market is converting the cantilever – perhaps made most famous in Frank Lloyd Wright’s floating Fallingwater residence of 1935 – from a mere move of architectural acrobatics to a profit-generating design feature. Driven by a “more is more” mantra, developers and architects are using cantilevers to extend the reach of a building, creating unique vistas and extended floor space in a market in which both are priced at sky-high premiums.

SOHO China's Zhang Xin on Balancing Design and Commercial Viability

00:00 - 22 October, 2013

The list of architects that have collaborated with Zhang Xin’s development company, SOHO China, reads like the roster of an architectural dream team (which includes Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, Herzog & de Meuron, Thom Mayne, David Adjaye, Toyo Ito and others). So it’s no surprise that the self-made billionaire lectured to a packed house at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design last Thursday. Xin spoke about her commitment to and love of design, explaining that her company’s mission is to bring a variety of architectural languages to China. And though SOHO’s projects are certainly experimental, Xin contends that her developer mindset actually helps meliorate the architect’s propensity to take the experiment too far—all without sacrificing the impressive and iconic forms of SOHO’s building portfolio.

Watch Zhang Xin link her practice in real estate to larger global issues and catch a glimpse of two Zaha Hadid-designs currently under construction: Wangjing SOHO and Sky SOHO.

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan +5

Is NYC "Landmarking Away" Its Future?

00:00 - 30 July, 2013
Is NYC "Landmarking Away" Its Future? , Midtown West; Courtesy of Flickr User David Boeke, Licensed via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
Midtown West; Courtesy of Flickr User David Boeke, Licensed via Creative Commons

A recent study by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) concluded that by preserving 27.7% of buildings in Manhattan, “the city is landmarking away its economic future.” REBNY is challenging the Landmarks Preservation Commission, arguing it has too much power when it comes to planning decisions, and that by making business so difficult for developers it is stifling the growth of the city.

Yet not three days before releasing this study, president of REBNY Steve Spinola said in an interview with WNYC that “if you ask my members, they will tell you [the twelve years of Mayor Bloomberg's tenure] has been a great period of time for them”. The conclusion of WNYC is that the past decade has actually been a period of increased growth for developers, rather than a period of stagnation.

It would be easy to echo the opinion of Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, who believes the actions of REBNY come down to greed, even comparing its members to Gordon Gekko, the anti-hero of the film Wall Street. But is greed really what’s behind this attack on the Landmarks Preservation Commission? Find out after the break.

Local Economies Suffer as Foreign Investments Dominate London and NYC

00:00 - 10 April, 2013
Local Economies Suffer as Foreign Investments Dominate London and NYC, Belgravia, one of London's priciest and most deserted neighborhoods © Herry Lawford
Belgravia, one of London's priciest and most deserted neighborhoods © Herry Lawford

An interesting phenomenon is taking place in London: the priciest tiers of its housing market are increasingly being driven by overseas investment, primarily from the Far East. The most interesting - and perhaps most concerning - aspect of these investments is that at least 37% those who buy property in the most expensive neighborhoods of central London do not intend to use that property as a primary residence. This results in upscale neighborhoods and residential properties that are largely abandoned and contribute almost nothing to the local economy of the city. Parts of Manhattan are experiencing similar behavior, leading us to ask the question "what is happening to our cities as they become more and more globalized and how will this trend affect city economies around the world?"

Read more after the break...

Where Does Zoning Fit Into Our Future City Planning?

00:00 - 27 February, 2013
Where Does Zoning Fit Into Our Future City Planning?, NYC.GOV - Department of Planning
NYC.GOV - Department of Planning

Let’s dump the word “zoning,” as in zoning ordinances that govern how land is developed and how buildings often are designed. Land-use regulation is still needed, but zoning increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term, an obsolete characterization of how we plan and shape growth.  Roger K. Lewis 

Zoning, just over a century old concept, is already becoming an outdated system by which the government regulates development and growth.  Exceptions and loopholes within current zoning legislation prove that city planning is pushing a zoning transformation to reflect the goals and needs of city building today and in the future.  To determine how zoning and land use need to change we must first assess the intentions of future city building.  Planners and architects, legislators and community activists have already begun establishing guidelines and ordinances that approach the goals of sustainability and liveability.  The AIA has established Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and has made a commitment to the Decade of Design: Global Solutions Challenge. NYC has come up with Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design and its Zone Green initiative in regards to updating its zoning resolution.  Philadelphia has augmented its zoning to include urban farms and community gardens.  It is safe to assume that many other cities will follow this precedent.