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MASS Design Group to Propose “Bauhaus of Africa” at UN Summit

In designing and building multiple successful public buildings in central Africa and around the world, MASS Design Group has employed and guided thousands of local craftsmen, curating the building process to inspire dignity. Now, they wish to help the African people obtain the skills necessary to guide the process themselves. At the United Nations Solutions Summit this Sunday Christian Benimana, a program director for the non-profit design studio, will present plans for what they are calling the “Bauhaus of Africa”: three “African Design Centers” to be built over the next 10 years in strategic locations throughout the continent. The design centers will house an education program tasked with training a new generation of African architects - a workforce certain to be indispensable as Africa enters a period of unprecedented urban growth.

CatalyticAction's Playground Puts Children at the Center of Relief Efforts for Syria

The international response to the Syrian War has often struggled to deal with the sheer scale of the disaster; huge numbers of refugees find it difficult even to source the barest essentials for life in the enormous refugee camps that have sprung up in Jordan, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Alongside the overwhelming need for basics, longer term care for displaced Syrian citizens is also proving difficult, but CatalyticAction, a not-for-profit design studio who are in their own words "a group of young graduates who believe that small changes can realize a big impact," believe that this long-term provision is equally important, especially for children.

Providing a sense of normal life for children in the refugee camps is absolutely essential to helping them, and their families, to recover and cope with life as refugees, which this why CatalyticAction have begun crowdfunding the construction of a playground - designed with the help of refugee children - in the Lebanese town of Bar Elias. The playground would allow children to learn through play, provide a sense of normality and, importantly, should create a space that they feel safe in.

A child poses with his plan for a safe playground. Image © CatalyticAction A drawing of the proposed playground. Image © CatalyticAction © CatalyticAction A diagram of the planning process for this project. Image © CatalyticAction

Light Matters: UN Celebrates The International Year of Light 2015

Light is all around us, and it increasingly affects our daily lives. For example, we have started to carry personal light sources around with our smartphones, and in our homes many electrical machines now utilize light to display information and simply to appear more attractive. In a larger context, architecture and cities have also developed a new dimension with the advent of electrical lighting for work and entertainment.

Inspired by the central role of light for our culture and technology, the United Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies” (IYL2015). With IYL2015 the UN wants to raise the awareness of the importance of light and optical technologies in our lives, our future and the development of society.

Read on after the break for more enlightenment around IYL2015.

"Over the Rainbow", Shanghai, 2013. First place in the SPIE International Year of Light Photo Contest, Image © Paul Reiffer Realities:united, NIX, simulation drawing, 2005. Exhibition: Lightopia, Gent. Image © realities:united Swing time. Boston, 2014. Image © Howeler + Yoon Architecture New York – The City and the Storm. Image © Iwan Baan for New York Magazine

Koolhaas Revamps UN Building's Modernist-Era Lounge

Dutch designers, Rem Koolhaas and Hella Jongerius, have revamped the delegates' lounge in the United Nations building just in time for the 68th General Assembly this week. The "workshop of peace" lounge space, originally designed in 1952 by Wallace K. Harrison in collaboration with renowned modernists Le Corbusier and Oscar Neimeyer, now sports a range of pastel-colored sofas and lounge chairs, opting for minimal intervention in attempts to maximize the social space. Read more about the UN North Delegates lobby on Gizmodo.

Fumihiko Maki Unveils New United Nations Tower

Almost sixty years after Wallace K. Harrison was invited to design the United Nations Secretariat Building in New York City, plans have been unveiled for another UN skyscraper designed by Fumihiko Maki which would "consolidate currently scattered operations into a single structure that would rise on the western portion of the Robert Moses Playground, on First Avenue between East 41st and 42nd streets."

Films & Architecture: "North by Northwest"

Our latest movie in our Films & Architecture series is another ’60s classic, this time by the master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. In North by Northwest we see a New York in the heyday of its architectural glory, with one scene taking place at a newly constructed United Nations building. In fact, the last scene takes place in a “house” that, under Hitchcock’s instructions, was meant to seem designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (in reality, the house was just another set design). The film shows a variety of urban spaces, and puts special emphasis on the contrast between the densities of  urban and rural realms.

As always, enjoy and comment!