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See the 17 Le Corbusier Projects Named as UNESCO World Heritage Sites

12:05 - 18 July, 2016
See the 17 Le Corbusier Projects Named as UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (commonly referred to as UNESCO) has named 17 projects in 7 countries by revolutionary Modernist architect Le Corbusier to their list of World Heritage Sites. Given to places of special cultural or physical significance, the designation will help to protect and preserve the buildings for future generations. Citing Le Corbusier’s inventive architectural language, UNESCO praised the collection of projects for “[reflecting] the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society.”

“The inscription on the World Heritage List of 17 buildings of sites by Le Corbusier represents a strong encouragement to continue all along Le Corbusier's built work to maintain this living heritage and to hand it down to future generations,” said Fondation Le Corbusier President Antoine Picon in a statement. “It also contributes to the understanding of that complex and fragile legacy and helps its dissemination to the widest audience.”

Continue after the break for the full list of projects and images.

Malkit Shoshan on How the City is a Shared Ground for the Instruments of War and Peace

10:45 - 17 May, 2016
Malkit Shoshan on How the City is a Shared Ground for the Instruments of War and Peace, Initial set-up, Camp Castor, Gao (Mali). Image © The Dutch Ministry of Defense
Initial set-up, Camp Castor, Gao (Mali). Image © The Dutch Ministry of Defense

Can architects have a truly active role in pressing social problems? Malkit Shoshan, the curator of the Dutch Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, thinks so. Her career is evidence of this: advocating for the incorporation of a fourth 'D' in the criteria of the UN (Defence, Diplomacy and Development) in its peacekeeping missions around the world, Shoshan has sat at the same table as military engineers and policy makers to analyze the urban impact peacekeepers have left around the world.

For the Dutch Pavilion, Shoshan has focused on the case of the joint mission of the Netherlands and the UN in Gao (Mali). In 2012, Gao was declared capital of the Independent State of Azawad, a nation not recognized by the international authorities, following Mali's Tuareg rebellion. "Although [these peacekeeping missions] occupy large plots of land in hundreds of different cities around the world, it is rarely discussed or addressed by our profession," says Soshan in the following interview.

We spoke with the curator of the Dutch pavilion after her recent visit to Mali to discuss the principles of the Netherlands in the next Venice Biennale; the impact of military drones in public spaces and why, according Shoshan, there is a close relationship between architecture, public policy and ideology. "[With design,] we can make resources available to communities that are exhausted by militarized conflicts, long periods of drought, famine and disease," she says.

UNESCO and Italy Form Task Force to Protect Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas

08:00 - 2 March, 2016
UNESCO and Italy Form Task Force to Protect Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas, Destruction by the Islamic State of the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra (Syria) in August 2015. Image © Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 2.0
Destruction by the Islamic State of the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra (Syria) in August 2015. Image © Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 2.0

Italy and UNESCO have signed an agreement to create a special Italian task force to protect art, cultural sites, and ancient artifacts that are located in areas of war or conflict around the world. They will also form a center in Turin to train cultural heritage experts. The agreement arose from a proposal presented by Italy last October that was backed by 53 countries and the UN Security Council. 

Conceived as the cultural version of the Blue Helmets --  the UN’s peacekeeping forces -- the group will initially be composed of 30 police detectives specializing in art theft, and 30 archeologists and art restorers and historians, who “are already operational and ready to go where UNESCO sends them,” said Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Culture, during the ceremony to sign the agreement.

Malkit Shoshan to Curate Dutch Pavilion at 2016 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 23 December, 2015
Malkit Shoshan to Curate Dutch Pavilion at 2016 Venice Biennale, Malkit Shoshan (2010). Image via Mediamatic
Malkit Shoshan (2010). Image via Mediamatic

Malkit Shoshan, shortlisted earlier this year for the Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize, has been selected by Het Nieuwe Instituut to curate the Dutch Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Founder of the Amsterdam-based architectural think tank FAST (Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory), Shoshan has been fellow of the Institute for the past two years having previously authored the award-winning book Atlas of Conflict: Israel-Palestine (2010). Her current work, entitled Drones and Honeycombs, is a study of the architecture and landscape of war and peace and examines "public space as war zone." It is this research, under the title 'Blue', which will be presented as a new series of narratives for architecture in conflict areas.

'A New Charter of Athens': a lecture by Professor Richard Sennett

14:30 - 17 October, 2015
'A New Charter of Athens': a lecture by Professor Richard Sennett

'Next year sees the opening of Habitat III, the environmental congress held every twenty years by the United Nations. For this event, a manifesto is being prepared about the design of cities. It aims to replace the guidance given by Le Corbusier and others nearly a century ago, in document they called "The Charter of Athens." The new Charter of Athens addresses issues emerging in the 21st Century about environmental crises, the uses of technology and big data, and the challenge of social inclusion. The lecture serves as an introduction to this modest proposal.'

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

09:30 - 25 September, 2015

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

09:30 - 5 June, 2015
CatalyticAction's Playground Puts Children at the Center of Relief Efforts for Syria, A drawing of the proposed playground. Image © CatalyticAction
A drawing of the proposed playground. Image © CatalyticAction

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 +7

Light Matters: UN Celebrates The International Year of Light 2015

00:00 - 16 January, 2015
Light Matters: UN Celebrates The International Year of Light 2015, Armani Fifth Avenue, New York. Architect: Fuksas Architects. Lighting design: Speirs + Major. Photo: Allan Toft. Image © Speirs + Major
Armani Fifth Avenue, New York. Architect: Fuksas Architects. Lighting design: Speirs + Major. Photo: Allan Toft. Image © Speirs + Major

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, www.spie.org. 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 +12

Koolhaas Revamps UN Building's Modernist-Era Lounge

00:00 - 23 September, 2013
Koolhaas Revamps UN Building's Modernist-Era Lounge, © Frank Oudeman
© Frank Oudeman

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

00:00 - 19 September, 2013
Fumihiko Maki Unveils New United Nations Tower, Courtesy of DNAinfoNY
Courtesy of DNAinfoNY

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"

09:30 - 19 February, 2013

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!