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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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. 

The Mayor Who Used Small Steps to Transform Bogotá for the Better

In a recent article for The New York Times Antanas Mockus, the former Mayor of Bogotá who served two terms in office between 1995 and 2003, discusses what he learnt to be "the art of changing a city." Mockus, a professor of philosophy by vocation, was at times pressured to wear a bullet-proof vest — which he wore with a heart-shaped hole cut over his chest as a "symbol of confidence, or defiance, for nine months." His article discusses how his government tackled Bogotá's "chaotic and dangerous" traffic through a thumbs-up, thumbs-down card system performed by mimes, how they dealt with water shortages, and how they persuaded 63,000 households to voluntarily pay 10% more tax.

Google (Alphabet) "Sidewalk Labs" Seeks to Improve City Life

Google has announced a major overhaul - the launch of their new parent company, Alphabet Inc. The new structure makes Google Inc. a holding company in an effort to provide more transparency to its investors and flexibility for its research endeavors. Thus, "G" will now stand for Google. The rest of the Alphabet will be a collection of companies that has yet to be entirely unveiled. 

Calico, Fiber, Nest Labs, Wings, and Google X will all be part of the Alphabet, as well as a new urban innovation company known as Sidewalk Labs.

WAF Announces 2015 Festival Theme

The World Architecture Festival (WAF), the world’s largest architectural festival and awards event held annually in Singapore, has announced the theme of this year's program: 50:50. The theme is inspired by Singapore’s upcoming 50th anniversary as an independent country, and will look 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.

San Diego's Idea District Takes the Best of Urban Planning and Puts It in One Place

A group of architects, designers and urban planners are working together in San Diego's Upper East Village to produce the Idea District. Started over four years ago, the project was introduced by Pete Garcia and David Malmuth as a way of revitalizing the area and creating a place for the convergence of innovative people. The Idea District, comprising an area surrounded by 11th St, C Street, Market St and Interstate-5, was originally an undeveloped parcel of land, “the last of its kind” in San Diego. Creators began gathering, seeing this no-man’s land as an opportunity to develop good urban planning. 

Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist' Reports from the 2015 Congress of the Academy of Urbanism

For this edition of The Urbanist, Monocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team visited the annual congress of the Academy of Urbanism to discuss how happiness and wellbeing can be achieved on the urban level. In this show Andrew Tuck and his correspondents spoke to architects, planners, designers and urbanists in an attempt to ascertain what makes a 'social city' for 'social animals', and which metropolises from around the world offer lessons that we can learn from.

New London Architecture Unveils Updated 1:2000 Scale Model Of The UK Capital

New London Architecture (NLA), an independent resource and forum for debate about the city's built environment, have unveiled a new, large-scale interactive model of the UK capital. Designed to provide a visual history of the city, NLA also intend for it to spark questions about its future. This model replaces an earlier one, which was revealed on the day that it was announced that London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games has been successful. Now, a decade later, the present projection of the city's built future has been mapped across the model, highlighting the locations of the 263 tall buildings planned or under construction. Visitors are also able to track the route and impact of new transport links, such as HS2 and Crossrail.

Review: 'All Of This Belongs To You' - Civic Urbanism At London's Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), named after the Queen and Her Consort, has its foundations in the Great Exhibition of 1851 amidst the wealth, innovation and squalor of the Industrial Revolution. Britain was flooded by prosperity which allowed for the development of major new institutions to collect and exhibit objects of cultural significance or artistic value. The institute’s first director, Henry Cole, declared that it should be “a schoolroom for everyone,” and a democratic approach to its relationship with public life has remained the cornerstone of the V&A. Not only has it always been free of charge but it was also the first to open late hours (made possible by gas lighting), allowing a more comprehensive demographic of visitor.

Their latest exhibition, which opens today, seeks to realign the museum’s vast collection and palatial exhibition spaces in South Kensington with these founding concepts. The interventions of All of This Belongs to You attempt to push the V&A’s position as an extension of London’s civic and cultural built environment to the fore, testing the museum’s ability to act as a 21st century public institution. To do this in London, a city where the notion of public and private is increasingly blurred, has resulted in a sequence of compelling installations which are tied together through their relevance either in subject matter, technique, or topicality.

The Ethics of Dust: Trajan’s Column by Jorge Oteros-Pailos. Image © Peter Kelleher / Victoria & Albert Museum ‘AgBags’ installed on the V&A’s stone façade as part of a work by Natalie Jermijenko. Image © Peter Kelleher / Victoria & Albert Museum Spike studs by Kent Stainless Ltd. that are intended 
to discourage people from sitting or sleeping 
in various spaces in the city. Image © Peter Kelleher / Victoria & Albert Museum MacBook Air casing and components from a computer used by journalists to write editorial about the data leaked to The Guardian newspaper by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. Image © The Guardian/ Victoria & Albert Museum

Jan Gehl: “Architects Know Very Little About People”

Danish urban planner and committed pedometer user Jan Gehl is an expert in creating “cities for people.” Following a recent talk he gave on sustainable cities in Basel, Gehl sat down with Tages Wocke to discuss what makes a city desirable and livable. “We found people’s behavior depends on what you invite them to do,” says Gehl. “The more streets you have, the more traffic you get. A more attractive public realm will be used by more people.” Read the full interview and see why Gehl thinks social and psychological sciences should be taught in architecture school, here

Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 4, Urbanism

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture, social architecture,  and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Yesterday we brought you The Architects, and today we present women leaders in  the field of urbanism. 

Françoise Choay. © PFRunner Jane Jacobs, 1961. Image via Wikipedia. Raquel Rolnik. Image via  USP Amanda Burden. Image by Bloomberg Associates - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Renzo Piano On 'Civic Duty' In Our Cities

In The New Yorker's latest Postcard from Rome Elizabeth Kolbert talks to Renzo Piano in his Senate Office at the Palazzo Giustiniani, just around the corner from the Pantheon. Piano, who was named a Senator for Life by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in September 2013 (when he was 75 years of age), immediately "handed over the office, along with his government salary, to six much younger architects." He then "asked them to come up with ways to improve the periferie - the often run-down neighborhoods that ring Rome and Italy’s other major cities." Kolbert attests to Piano's belief in the power of museums and libraries and concert halls. For him, "they become places where people share values [and] where they stay together." "This is what I call the civic role of architecture."

Reconfiguring Urban Spaces To Compensate For "Poisonous" Air

In an article for The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright steps "inside Beijing's apocalypse": the poisonous, polluted atmosphere that often clings to the Chinese capital. He explores ways in which those who live in this metropolis have started to redefine the spaces they frequent and the ways in which they live. Schools, he notes, are now building inflatable domes over play areas in order to "simulate a normal environment." The dangers were made clear when "this year’s Beijing marathon [...] saw many drop out when their face-mask filters turned a shade of grey after just a few kilometres." Now, in an attempt to improve the living conditions in the city, ecologists and environmental scientists are proposing new methods to filter the air en masse. Read about some of the methods here.