In 1970 the BBC followed architects Alison and Peter Smithson through the construction of their seminal housing project, Robin Hood Gardens (London). The impact of their architecture continues to resonate well into the 21st century, most recently in the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Robin Hood Gardens was demolished in 2013, bringing an end to the Smithson’s utopian vision. Listen to Alison Smithson explain the European Housing Condition (as the vision stood in 1970), the state of British infrastructure as it was, and hear Peter Smithson discuss the impetus for their most famous collective housing project.
“Be very sensitive to where you are, in what times and in what parts of the world, and how that constitutes the artistic practice,” says Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson in this recent video from Louisiana Channel. In Advice to the Young, Eliasson deliberates on creative practice, urging young artists to take risks and produce meaningful work. “Just because you think about a work of art,” says Eliasson, “it is not necessarily a work of art.” Most recently, Eliasson has made headlines for his immersive exhibition Riverbed at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art which explores the intersection between nature and the built environment. Revered as one of the world’s leading sculptural and installation artists, Eliasson is adamant that the practice of working with art remains to be “very fierce, very strong and very robust.”
In a three day pilot workshop, students from the Architecture and Urbanism School of Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo took part in an introduction to architecture filmmaking. Coordinated by architects Gabriel Kogan and Pedro Kok, the group spent a day at Lina Bo Bardi‘s Glass House in São Paulo following theoretical and technical lectures.
The idea was to recreate – now in moving images – an iconic photograph of the site by exploring issues of representation, transparency, interior/exterior, promenades, ways of living and the tectonics of this architectural masterpiece.
Our friends at Crane.tv have brought you the personal insights of Dan Burr and Lee Bennett of Sheppard Robson on the innumerable merits of hand sketching in the design process. The architects describe the process of designing within a team and communicating ideas to clients through simple and powerful visuals. Explaining their current projects, the two discuss the various roles of computer generated drawings versus hand drawings, and the instrumental value a single drawing could have in shaping a client-designer relationship, or the entire trajectory of a project.
Lee Bennet muses, “When you’re working with a computer, there’s a machine in the way. When you’re drawing, its an instant connection between your brain and the paper, and there’s something kind of instant about it, and magical.”
This video by architecture photographer, Pedro Kok, takes us behind the scenes of the construction of the Cais das Artes (Quay of Arts) building in Brazil. Located in the southeastern coastal city of Vitória, the building was designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha in collaboration with METRO Arquitetos.
The video was produced for La Triennale di Milano’s exhibition, “Paulo Mendes da Rocha – Technique and Imagination,” and captures – through impeccable shots – the work that went into constructing the enormous cultural complex.
In this video, produced by Hugo Oliveira, Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza denounces the ”hyper-specialization” of architecture, outlining its academic roots as well as its practical implications for practice. Siza mentions how, in Portugal, a law was considered to limit architects to their specific specialities – exterior architects could not design interiors, for example. According to Siza, this tendency towards “hyper” or over specialization is unfortunate, as it gives rise to the segmentation of the discipline into subcategories - interior architecture, exterior architecture, landscape architecture, etc. - that undermine collaboration and team work.
Also make sure to check out the first part of this interview, where Siza discusses the obsolescence of buildings.
Well-designed, protected bike lanes are not only the desire for riders, but a necessity for cities to offer sustainable transport. Bikes sales are on the rise and it is imperative that cities meet the growing demand. As Portland-based planner Nick Falbo describes: “If your city is designed so that you may bike instead of drive, it would be a happier, healthier place to live.” With that in mind, Falbo has revealed a systematic proposal that can make the intersections safer for bicyclists, cars and pedestrians.
Fours steps for safer crossings, after the break…
Cristobal Palma from Estudio Palma presents his latest video of Ambient 30 60, UMWELT‘s pavilion for Yap_Constructo 2014 in Chile. The video aptly captures the spirit of the Young Architects Program (YAP) — an annual collaboration between the MoMA and MoMA PS1 that takes place in Istanbul, New York, Rome and Santiago.
NOWNESS has released the latest in their “In Residence” series, a collection of short videos that interview designers in their homes. This time, internationally renowned Mexican Architect Fernando Romero presents his Mexico City villa, designed by Francisco Artias in 1955, which he describes as “the ultimate modernity dream come true.”
A new hour long documentary for PBS’ series, Building the Great Cathedrals, explores the mystery of how, in the 15th century, Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi constructed one of the largest domes the world had ever seen. Winning what could be considered one of the earliest architectural competitions, Brunelleschi developed a unique system that allowed construction on the dome to occur while services were being conducted in the cathedral 100 metres below. The team in this episode model this freestanding structure in an attempt to understand just how Brunelleschi achieved such a feat of Renaissance engineering.
You can find out more about the film here. Please note that the film is only viewable through PBS within the USA. For those of you outside the USA, you can watch the 30 second preview above; for those in the USA, see the full video after the break…
The Italian furniture brand Arper recently reissued Lina Bo Bardi‘s signature Bowl Chair. The pioneering project of the Brazilian-Italian architect presents a more relaxed approach to “sitting” – one that was fairly radical when it was originally released in 1951. The reissue of the chair – presented at the Salone del Mobile 2013 – is a testament to the forward-thinking vision of the architect.
Arper, who worked in partnership with the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi to produce the Bowl Chair, based the design on the original prototype drawings. The genius of the chair is in its simple execution: consisting of two loose parts – an upholstered shell on a metal structure – the seat remains free to move in all directions. It is a chair for living, not just for sitting, and (as with all of Bo Bardi’s works) places the human at the center of the design.
In this powerful interview, Jean Nouvel explains his relationship to Arabic architecture. Discussing his various projects in Arabic countries – such as his office tower in Doha or the Louvre Abu Dhabi - Nouvel discusses how he is influenced by and integrates the abstraction and geometry of traditional Islamic architecture into his modern designs. He also espouses a strong opinion on the understanding of context in architecture, saying: “I’m a contextual architect, but for me the context isn’t only the site. It’s above all a wider historical context – a cultural context… each time, building is trying to continue a history, and to take part in this history.” His architecture, he says, is about listening: “The architect is not meant to impose his own values or his own sensitivities on such general plans.” Video via Louisiana.
As an accompaniment to their ongoing Sensing Spaces Exhibition in London, the Royal Academy of Arts has produced six wonderful films interviewing the architects involved in the exhibition, unearthing what motivates and inspires them as architects, and what the primary themes of their exhibition projects are.
The above video features both Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, who both designed their Sensing Spaces exhibits with the other in mind. Siza explains his preoccupation with the joints between the natural and the man-made through his Leça Swimming Pool complex, and the way the rock formations informed his interventions. He also introduces his one-time protégé Souto de Moura’s Braga stadium as expressing the same understanding of the natural and man-made.
See videos from the 5 other Sensing Spaces participants after the break
In an hour long documentary for PBS, Geoffrey Baer tours the USA in search of the ten buildings that “changed America.” From a state capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson to resemble a Roman temple to Henry Ford’s factory that first saw the Model T enter production, the film explores the “shocking, funny, and even sad stories of how these buildings were created.” Investigating places of worship, shopping malls, concert halls and skyscrapers this film is tipped as ”a journey inside the imaginations of the daring architects who set out to change the way we live, work, and play.”
Find out more about the film here. Please note that the film is only viewable within the USA.
Architectural photographer Yohan Zerdoun has sent us this lovely video that explores the Peres Center for Peace, by architects Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas, in Tel Aviv. With a keen eye for detail and an understanding of the building’s human scale, Zerdoun sets up each shot so that the architecture – and its gorgeous context – can be truly appreciated. Enjoy!
Spanish architecture photographer Miguel de Guzmán has released a new video, just in time for Christmas. The video covers three light installations in Berlin designed by Brut Deluxe: the first, a huge light dome, the second consisting of five big three-dimensional light cubes, and the third, an artificial landscape built of 50 light shrubs. All of the installations are designed to create atmospheric spaces that can be entered and experienced. Check out more of his videos here, and some great pictures of the installations after the break…
In a profession all-too-often associated with and dominated by men, women have begun to carve a space for themselves in the architecture world – but still few are recognized as they deserve.
So Alice Shure and Janice Stanton, the founders of Amici Productions LLC, began work on a new documentary, Making Space: a visual register for future generations of architects that will document what is changing in architecture today and how these changes are affecting women.
After interviewing over 30 architects, Shure and Stanton selected five women, five “rising stars” to hi-light. The documentary will show their day-to-day lives as well as tell the stories of how they achieved success.
Thanks to a recent Kickstarter campaign, this project will soon be a reality. But to get your sneak peek into these five female pioneers, read on after the break.