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Alejandro Aravena's Downloadable Housing Plans and the Real Meaning of "Open-Source Urbanism"

08:00 - 5 June, 2016
Alejandro Aravena's Downloadable Housing Plans and the Real Meaning of "Open-Source Urbanism", Courtesy of Elemental
Courtesy of Elemental

Earlier this year, we reported that 2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena announced that his practice, ELEMENTAL, released four of their social housing designs available to the public for open source use. A recent article published by Urbanisms in beta discusses what exactly “open source use” means to the architecture world, and how we may see these designs applied to projects in the future.

MVRDV Unveil Monumental Urban Staircase in the Center of Rotterdam

15:01 - 16 May, 2016
MVRDV Unveil Monumental Urban Staircase in the Center of Rotterdam, The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam by MVRDV.. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam by MVRDV.. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

A little over a month since Rotterdam-based practice MVRDV announced a new temporary urban structure—a 180-step staircase, 29 meters tall and 57 meters long—for the heart of city of Rotterdam, the project has been officially opened. Those who ascend the staircase will find a temporary observation deck looking over Rotterdam Centraal, a rooftop bar, and the temporary reopening of the Kriterion cinema that was last active in the 1960s.

What Do 16,000 Photographs Say About Moscow?

04:00 - 5 May, 2016
What Do 16,000 Photographs Say About Moscow?, Courtesy of Strelka Magazine, Alla Shvydkaya
Courtesy of Strelka Magazine, Alla Shvydkaya

Once a photograph is uploaded to social media, it ceases to be part of one’s private archive and becomes public property – as well as an object of study for researchers. There have been many attempts to study photographs on the scale of "Big Data." Take, for example, the numerous and well-publicised projects by Lev Manovich’s Big Data Lab. Evidently, using the results of one study of the huge online archive of photographs to make conclusions about society at large, is not necessarily a good idea. It’s fair to say that our society is not evenly represented online: a 19-year old woman may be posting her selfies daily, but it doesn’t mean that same goes for a sixty-five year old man. That said, we can learn a lot about cities and their inhabitants from the results of studies such as these.

Monocle's 2016 Conference in Vienna to Debate "Quality of Life" and Urban Livability

04:00 - 8 April, 2016
Monocle's 2016 Conference in Vienna to Debate "Quality of Life" and Urban Livability, Coffee on the terrace of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Lisbon (2015). Image © Rodrigo Cardoso
Coffee on the terrace of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Lisbon (2015). Image © Rodrigo Cardoso

The 2016 Quality of Life Conference will bring together key voices from the worlds of architecture, business, design, urbanism and culture to discuss how to improve our nations, cities and workplaces. Welcoming 200 delegates and 20 speakers from around the world, the event will be hosted at the historic Palais Ferstel by Monocle’s Editor-in-Chief Tyler Brûlé, alongside the magazine’s editors and correspondents. The summit will also be broadcast live on Monocle 24 Radio and will featured in a series of films on the Monocle website.

MVRDV to Install a 180-Step Urban Staircase Outside Rotterdam's Central Station

12:15 - 7 April, 2016
MVRDV to Install a 180-Step Urban Staircase Outside Rotterdam's Central Station, The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam. Image © Frank van Dam/MVRDV
The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam. Image © Frank van Dam/MVRDV

Rotterdam—the original "tabula rasa" city—will soon become host to a giant staircase, ascending 180 steps from Stationsplein (outside Rotterdam Central Station’s iconic entrance) to the top of the world-renowned Groot Handelsgebouw building. According to MVRDV, the structure will "follow in the city's tradition of celebrating reconstruction milestones" and, as such, the scaffolding system used to construct the staircase will be "a nod" to the 75th anniversary of the rebuilding of the city following World War II.

Strelka Institute and ArchDaily Partner to Share Critical Commentary on Russian Urbanism

04:00 - 4 April, 2016
Strelka Institute and ArchDaily Partner to Share Critical Commentary on Russian Urbanism

We are pleased to announce a new content partnership between ArchDaily and Moscow's Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in which we will share a collection of critical essays, interviews and articles on urban events, studies in urbanism, and urban technologies which are currently taking place in Russia. ArchDaily's Editors will be working closely with those of Strelka Magazine, which was launched in 2014, to translate and publish ideas and opinions from their expert team of local writers.

Call for Entries: The Challenges of Urbanisation

17:00 - 17 March, 2016
Call for Entries: The Challenges of Urbanisation

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies is proud to announce the 2016 edition of The Geneva Challenge - Advancing Development Goals international Contest for graduate students. This is a project funded by Swiss Ambassador Jenö Staehelin and is supported by Kofi Annan, the high-patron of the contest.

This year, Master students are invited to develop analysis-based proposals on "The Challenges of Urbanisation".

The competition invites teams of 3-5 master students to:

1. identify a challenge stemming from urbanization;

2. construct an interdisciplinary analysis on how it affects different aspects of development in a specific (but transposable) context;

Investigating the 'Scalelessness' of Contemporary Chinese Architecture and Urbanism

04:00 - 10 March, 2016
A traditional siheyuan in Pingyao (p. 389), now operating as a hostel. Image © Evan Chakroff
A traditional siheyuan in Pingyao (p. 389), now operating as a hostel. Image © Evan Chakroff

The Architectural Guide China is a travel book which covers cities primarily located on China’s eastern coast. These cities—such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong—have become centers for forward-thinking urban design and architecture. The guide offers maps, drawings, photographs, historical background, and essays describing Chinese architecture at all scales – ranging from small temples to the organization of major metropoli.

Based on the authors' experiences of directing study abroad trips throughout the country, Evan Chakroff, Addison Godel, and Jacqueline Gargus, have carefully curated a selection of contemporary architectural sites while also discussing significant historical structures. Each author has written an introductory essay, each of which contextualizes the historical and global socioeconomic influences, as well as the stylistic longevity of the chosen sites in this book. One such essay, by Chakroff, has been made available exclusively on ArchDaily.

CCTV New Headquarters (p.088) as iconic urban landmark. Image © Evan Chakroff Framed and layered spaces in a dense zone of Suzhou’s Lingering Garden (p. 244). Note rockery in the far distance.. Image © Evan Chakroff Ai Wei Wei’s Archaeological Archive (p. 283), from different vantage points. Image © Evan Chakroff Taihu stone on display in the Garden of the Humble Administrator (p. 218). Image © Evan Chakroff +17

Moscow's Strelka Institute and the HSE Graduate School of Urbanism Launch a New Course in Advanced Urban Design

04:00 - 4 March, 2016
Strelka Institute, Moscow. Image © Olga Ivanova
Strelka Institute, Moscow. Image © Olga Ivanova

The Moscow-based Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design and the HSE Graduate School of Urbanism have launched a new collaborative international Masters programme entitled Advanced Urban Design. The two-year English language program, specifically designed for Bachelors, researchers and young professionals, intends to guide students through best practices in the area of urban planning. Under the guidance of a collection of tutors from Russia and around the world, the course aims to investigate conditions of growing cities by focusing on unstable socioeconomic contexts. 

Distributing Power: Jeremy Till on the Complex Necessity of Participatory Urbanism

10:00 - 18 February, 2016
Distributing Power: Jeremy Till on the Complex Necessity of Participatory Urbanism, A WikiHouse built by The Building Centre, Arup and Architecture 00. Image © Margaux Carron
A WikiHouse built by The Building Centre, Arup and Architecture 00. Image © Margaux Carron

As a profession with the power to alter people's cities and neighborhoods - and indeed therefore their lives - architecture is often a controversial business to be involved in; many members of the public have learned to be suspicious of any plans for development in places they care about, often turning architecture into a villain to be fought. One proposed solution to this conundrum is to include public participation as much as possible, but many architects are skeptical of such an approach. At a time when the responsibilities of architects are being eroded by engineers and project managers, what would be left to architects if the public is allowed control over the design? Seeking to understand this challenge, in this interview from MONU Magazine's latest issue on "Participatory Urbanism," Bernd Upmeyer speaks to Jeremy Till, a British Architect, writer and educator who has written extensively about the need to for architects to relinquish control and involve local communities in their design process.

Bernd Upmeyer, on behalf of MONU, spoke with the British architect, writer, and educator Jeremy Till. He is the head of Central Saint Martins and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts, London. Previously he was Dean of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster, and Professor of Architecture and Head of School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield. Till’s research and writing concentrate on the social and political aspects of architecture and the built environment. His written work includes "Flexible Housing," "Architecture Depends" and "Spatial Agency." In 2005 he was one of the editors of the publication “Architecture and Participation” to which he contributed a piece entitled "The Negotiation of Hope." The interview took place on September 3, 2015.

Public Natures: Evolutionary Infrastructures

16:00 - 23 December, 2015
Public Natures: Evolutionary Infrastructures, Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press
Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

From the Publisher. Rail lines, bridges, highways, waterways, and off-ramps—larger than life but part of it, infrastructural systems are the enduring forms of urban evolution, multiplying as cities grow and requiring expanding swaths of territory to accommodate more and more monofunctional requirements. What if the very hard line between landscape, architecture, engineering, and urbanism could find a more synthetic convergence?

Hear This Croatian Seawall Sing as the Wind and Waves Lap the Shore

04:30 - 20 November, 2015
Hear This Croatian Seawall Sing as the Wind and Waves Lap the Shore, The 'Sea Organ' / Nikola Bašić . Image © Tim Ertl
The 'Sea Organ' / Nikola Bašić . Image © Tim Ertl

Following the Second World War, the Croatian city of Zadar underwent a large, rapid reconstructive transformation. The city's seafront became nothing more than a concrete wall until 2005, when architect Nikola Bašić proposed to redesign parts of the seawall to interact with the ocean waves. Concealed beneath marble blocks, the 'Sea Organ' (morske orgulje in Croatian) is comprised of a network of polyethylene tubes and resonating cavities which sing as the waves and wind lap the shore. With thirty five individual pipes spanning a total length of seventy metres, it is the largest aerophone in the world. According to reports, the sound is specifically directed out to sea and is impossible to hear from within the city of Zadar itself. In 2006, the intervention was jointly awarded the European Prize for Urban Space.

Design Research in Alternative Contexts

07:30 - 2 November, 2015
Design Research in Alternative Contexts, Poster - Design Research in Alternative Contexts
Poster - Design Research in Alternative Contexts

An international seminar and exhibitions on the experiments of design research in alternative contexts, it provides an exceptional opportunity to examine the potentials and limits of design research, a fundamental shift in contemporary architecture, tested against the hybrid conditions of practice. Speakers include Stephen Hodder, Francois Penz, Jeremy Till, Murray Fraser, Felipe Hernandez, Ingrid Schroder, Helen Castle, Pingping Dou, Andong Lu, Lu Feng, Ling Zhou, Hua Li, Wowo Ding, Chen Zhao. The seminar is accompanied by three exhibitions, featuring especially the outputs from the Investigate-It Workshop (2015 Nanjing, China) by ten leading young Chinese architects/scholars practicing their visions/methods/theories on a common site.

2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture

04:30 - 14 October, 2015
 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Main entrance and Silo, Dacheng Flour Factory, Shekou, Shenzhen; Image Courtesy of 2015 UABB
Main entrance and Silo, Dacheng Flour Factory, Shekou, Shenzhen; Image Courtesy of 2015 UABB

The 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (2015 UABB), the world’s only biennale dedicated to the themes of urbanism and architecture, announced its highlight exhibits. Based in Shenzhen, one of China’s first Special Economic Zones, 2015 UABB will feature presentations from over 72 exhibitors from six continents who will all explore the theme “Re-Living The City”. Opening to the public on 4 December this year, 2015 UABB will take over the former Dacheng Flour Factory in Shekou, a declining factory complex built in 1980s that will be transformed into a multifaceted exhibition venue especially for the biennale.

So You Want to be an Urbanist?

04:00 - 9 October, 2015

For this edition of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," Tom Edwards asks: if you want to plan a city, where do you begin? This episode investigates a number of city-wide gestures which can contribute to a better urban environment, from the importance of a well-designed waterfront to what it means to have a strong 'digital strategy'.

Before & After: 30 Photos that Prove the Power of Designing with Pedestrians in Mind

16:00 - 4 September, 2015
Before & After: 30 Photos that Prove the Power of Designing with Pedestrians in Mind, Padre Alonso de Ovalle, Santiago, Chile. Image Courtesy of Urb-I
Padre Alonso de Ovalle, Santiago, Chile. Image Courtesy of Urb-I

Providing more public space for pedestrians is one of the main goals of urban renewal projects taking place in cities around the world. 

By planting more trees, implementing more sidewalks and bike paths and establishing new seating areas, it is possible to design more welcoming places with less traffic congestion and that promote sustainable methods of transportation, such as walking or biking. 

With the aim of publicizing urban renewal projects that have made cities more pedestrian friendly, Brazilian group Urb-I launched the “Before/After” project, which compiles before and after photos that show how cities have redistributed their public space. 

The project is collaborative so that anyone can use Google Street View, or another similar tool, to raise awareness of the changes taking place in their cities. 

Read on to see the transformed spaces. 

Network and Expand Your Knowledge at WAF 2015

06:00 - 26 August, 2015
Network and Expand Your Knowledge at WAF 2015, WAF / INSIDE Delegate Brochure 2015. Courtesy of WAF.
WAF / INSIDE Delegate Brochure 2015. Courtesy of WAF.

In addition to hosting the world’s largest architectural awards program, the World Architecture Festival (WAF) also features three days of conferences, architect-led city tours, documentary screenings, live crit presentations and networking opportunities. To be held at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, WAF will take place from November 4-6.

A major component of WAF is the opportunity to learn and expand one’s knowledge of current issues facing architecture and urbanism. Inspired by Singapore’s upcoming 50th anniversary as an independent country, the theme of this year’s conference series is 50:50, looking back on how architecture and urbanism have changed during the last 50 years, as well as forward on what may change or stay the same in the next 50 years to come. The conference will center around three key topics: Designing for Tomorrow; Imagining the Future; and Cities and Urbanism, featuring talks by Michael Sorkin, Peter Cook and Manuelle Gautrand, among many others.

Marine Urbanism: How China is Building Artificial Islands in the South China Sea

04:00 - 25 August, 2015
Marine Urbanism: How China is Building Artificial Islands in the South China Sea, A reef in August 2014. Image Courtesy of DigitalGlobe, via the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, and CNES, via Airbus DS and IHS Jane’s (via The New York Times)
A reef in August 2014. Image Courtesy of DigitalGlobe, via the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, and CNES, via Airbus DS and IHS Jane’s (via The New York Times)

For a recent article in The New York Times, Derek Watkins examines "what China has been building in the South China Sea." Employing high resolution satellite imagery and diagrams, his article investigates why—and how—China have been dredging and dumping sand in a bid to construct inhabitable artificial islands. Political and diplomatic concerns aside, the article also touches upon the technical requirements necessary to reclaim land from the oceans.