In China’s effort to modernize its cities, it has used architectural mimicry – essentially “copy-cat architecture” as journalist and author Bianca Bosker puts it – to rapidly and substantially “adapt to the market” for urban development. Watch this video as Bosker describes the atmosphere of imitation that China has adapted to bring western architectural styles to its housing market. Bianca Bosker is the author of “Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China”, in which she gives a tour of the various towns within major cities that have seen this rapid development. Cities like Hangzhou has its own imitation of Venice, which includes man-made canals, townhouses, and villas. Shanghai has its own version of Paris, Eiffel Tower included. And Beijing has an imitation of the London Bridge.
More after the break.
At 71, the 2013 Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito is not content with settling down just yet, at least not architecturally-speaking. Where many architects have established distinct styles, Ito is known for constantly shifting, experimenting, questioning and developing his approach to architecture. As one member of the Prtizker jury put it “he has been working on one project all along – to push the boundaries of architecture. And to achieve that goal, he is not afraid of letting go what he has accomplished before.”
In this video entitled Learning from Laureates - which comes courtesy of the good folks at ARCHITECT magazine - fellow experimentalist and Pritzker Prize recipient (not to mention 2013 AIA Gold Medalist) Thom Mayne gets to grips with Ito’s motivation. The pair of laureates converse via Skype examining the drive behind Ito’s evolutionary approach, before getting down to discussing how they think architecture is being affected by society’s biggest change yet – the advent of the post-digital age.
See more of Ito’s work along with some of our previous coverage after the break…
Architects and students worldwide are highly anticipating the Monday premiere of Archiculture - a documentary that offers a unique glimpse into the world of studio-based, design education through the eyes of five architecture students finishing their final design projects at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. The film, directed and produced by two architect-turned-filmmakers Ian Harris and David Krantz of Arbuckle Industries, features exclusive interviews with leading professionals, historians and educators to help create a crucial dialog around the key issues faced by this unique teaching methodology.
Eager to learn more, we sat down with director Ian Harris for an exclusive interview. Read the interview and share your thoughts after the break.
After years of production, the documentary film Archiculture is set to premiere at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival, which will commence on April 25th. Highlighting a group of students amidst their final design projects, the film illustrates the strengths and perils of architectural education. Shigeru Ban, Thom Mayne, Ken Frampton and Phil Bernstein are some of the leading architects, educators and historians that will be featured in the film, offering insightful criticism about studio-based, design education as it exists today.
Check out the trailer above and continue after the break for more information.
In an age where almost every conceivable subject has spawned its own reality series – be it Dancing On Ice or Hillbilly-Hand-Fishing - PBS’s new show, Cool Spaces!, aims to stimulate the public’s curiosity by engaging us in the story behind some of North America’s most interesting public buildings. The AIA sponsored show, which is hosted by Boston-based architect Stephen Chung, departs from usual architecture-related television shows, which tend to focus on makeovers of private homes. Not only will this show look at public buildings, but it will also examine the people whose lives it has affected, the places that have shaped it, and the mind of the architect who brought all of these things together to design it.
Read more about the series and see a sneak preview after the break…
Following on from their previous ‘videopolemic’ tribute to Lebbeus Woods, 32BNY has released their second video featuring artist and designer Vito Acconci’s response to the question, “Is architecture art?”. Having straddled both architecture and art throughout his carrer, Acconci is cleary comfortable in discussing their relationship, as he talks passionately about the importance of putting people at the center of both. “Because architecture is used… it can possibly be misused, and once it is misused, I think, the user goes one step further…than the architect”.
More about Acconci after the break…
Intrigued by the hexagonal plan and complex structure of Shigeru Ban’s Centre Pompidou Metz in France, ANTIVJ visual artists Simon Geilfus and Yannick Jacquet, and composer Thomas Vaquié transformed the building’s undulating facade into a digital spectacular with a light show that “abolishes notions of scale by contrasting micro-architecture with human construction”. The piece was loosely inspired by the research of deep-sea expert Peter A. Rona, whose work explores the fascinating marks left by unknown, hexagonal-shaped sea creature called Paleodictyon Nodosum, which Rona believes is designed to cultivate bacteria.
Learn more and watch the making of after the break…
“The works of our artists, architects, and preservationists provide us with another language of diplomacy. A transcendent language that allows us to convey values that are at once uniquely American yet speak to all of humanity. Increasingly in this world, art and architecture help us maintain our sense of openness and liberation.” — Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, April 12, 2010
An embassy is much more than a building or a work of architecture; it functions as a symbolic representation of countries’ relationships to one another. It represents the universal language of diplomacy – “communicating values and ideals, extending well beyond any moment in time”. An embassy has the difficult task of representing two diametrically opposed concepts: security and openness. The former typically overpowers the latter in importance, which is most probably why when we think of foreign embassies, it conjures up images of stately monolithic buildings surrounded by tall fences and menacing guards or “bunkers, bland cubes, lifeless compounds”, according to Tanya Ballard Brown of NPR’s All Things Considered.
More on the design excellence of embassies after the break…
Two Izu retirees hired architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima to design them a home equipped with a neighborhood bookshop and cafe. The Japanese practice stepped up to the challenge and constructed an elegant, curved structure whose white walls and wooden ceiling hug the hundred degree undulating street on which its located and embraces the wooded forest it backs to. The home – which features two bedrooms, a kitchen, cafe, bookshop and atelier – is accessed beneath a bridged part of the structure and organized as a sequence. Take a tour through this interesting space with this short video made by JA+U Magazine.
32BNY, in collaboration with Spirit of Space, has relaunched a website in a corner of the internet structured as a videopolemic to explore architectural discourse in a revolutionary way. The first video in the series is a tribute to the late Lebbeus Woods. Woods was an aggressive philosophical thinker of architecture and space. He launched worldy ideas into his architecture through imaginative leaps – exploring politics, society, ethics and the human condition as it pertained to architectural space in the form of vivid and dynamic drawings. His work has inspired his contemporaries to think outside of the physical space of architecture. Steven Holl and Sanford Kwinter discuss some of his ideas and philosophies through his quotes and inspirations. The video serves as a reminder, and to some a guide, as to how to build upon the philosophy of architecture beyond the physical.
More on the video after the break.
As we shared with you earlier last month, Danish architectural firm, CEBRA, in partnership with Ski Travel Agency Danski, is working on a new project of epic proportions: the world’s largest Skidome. Skidome Denmark will be shaped rather like a snow-flake, with three 700m, criss-crossing arches (the tallest one reaching 110 m high). While a structure that size is hard to wrap one’s head around, this cool new video gives a great idea of the Skidome’s awesome scale.
More info and images of the World’s Largest Skidome, after the break…
For the last 12 years, the MoMA and the P.S.1 have invited a group of emerging architects to compete for the opportunity to design and construct a summer installation within MoMA PS1’s courtyard as part of their Young Architects Program (you can check the 2012 short list here).
As of last year, the program started an international version in two countries: Chile (Color Shadows, at the Matucana 100 Cultural Center – YAP_CONSTRUCTO) and Italy (wHATAMI, at the MAXXI museum in Rome, YAP_MAXXI).
The winning project of the Chilean version, designed by Eduardo Castillo, was open during the 2010 summer (Jan-Feb, southern hemisphere), hosting a series of cultural events and music sessions, just like the P.S.1 in Queens.
The project, Color Shadows, consists of a series of roofs structured from wooden posts that, together with fabric, created a topographic relief, more than covering the patio, spatially contained it. This dynamic structure filters the light and is constantly changing during the day. This dynamic condition can be seen thanks to this video by architectural photographer Cristobal Palma.
More videos by Cristobal Palma at ArchDaily:
- Nicanor Parra Library (Mathias Klotz)
- El Porvenir Kindergarten (Giancarlo Mazzanti)
- Flor del Campo School (Giancarlo Mazzanti + Felipe Mesa)
- Sports Facilities (Giancarlo Mazzanti + Plan B)
Cristobal Palma (1974, Oxford, UK): Based in Santiago, Chile, Cristobal’s work spans architecture, urban and documentary photography. He studied at London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA), and his work has been published in numerous titles internationally, with recent commissions by: The New York Times, Monocle, Wallpaper, Domus, Dwell and Architectural Digest. He lives in Santiago, Chile, and works both with architects in Chile and abroad.
David Baker of DB+P Architects recently produced a short video on the benefits of urban density and the repercussions of the current suburban sprawl trend in the US. It provides an insightful look into the resources required to maintain current cities and why density, if properly planned can provide the healthy atmosphere that great cities are known for. One of the most interesting points brought up is how population density is inversely related to carbon footprint – one example illustrates how Oklahoma City with a population density of 872 per square mile produces almost double the carbon that New York does with a population density of 70,595 per square mile. With land still relatively inexpensive, especially in the heartland of the US, the question becomes how to convey the benefits of urban living to those that cherish suburbia.
This snapshot of a new documentary about mid-century modern architecture in Arkansas illuminates classic post-war designs. Simple, clean lines were often the elements that delineated the aesthetics of these buildings. While many lay in disrepair, they still exude an aura of a time when optimism was reflected in the country’s desire to build a new future. Some of the architectural icons that are featured include the University of Arkansas’s Fine Arts Center by state native Edward Durell Stone, the Tower Building in Little Rock, the Fulbright Library in Fayetteville, and the abandoned Hotel Mountainaire. Check out the short clip of what will air in November on AETN. Also, see the highlights of the current affairs and award winning architecture that is taking place within the state of Arkansas here.
A group of unassuming residential towers in Oslo’s Grorud Valley neighborhood have been transformed into the stars of Cold Mailman’s music video “Time is of the essence” directed by André Chocron.
Taking full advantage of the density of the towers, Chocron set up multiple cameras at various angles in order to shoot a sequence of time lapse videos from sundown to sunup. What looks like an intricately choreographed light show, is cleverly composited in post-production. Predictably, in the evening residents turned their lights on, and as the evening progressed turned them off. In order to create the dance of lights in similar effect to that of an equalizer, Chocron switches between the illuminated and darkened states in concert with the choreography of the song. The end result is an intriguing audiovisual composition.
In this July 2011 TEDGlobal talk, physicist Geoffrey West argues that mathematical laws of networks and scalability govern the properties of cities. West demonstrates how wealth, crime rate, walking speed, and other aspects of a city can be predicted based on a city’s population–universally, and with startling accuracy.
West’s presentation is constructed through a comparison of cities’ statistical similarities with the mathematical laws of biology. Both are dominated by economies of scale, but while the pace of life decreases as biological organisms scale upwards, the pace of life in cities increases. For example, doubling the size of a city systematically increases income, wealth, number of patents, number of colleges, number of creative people, the number of police, crime rate, number of aids and flu cases, and waste by 15% per capita.
Although some might find West’s fervent empiricism tiresome, his model of urban scientific inquiry holds massive potential both as data and methodological model for theoretical inquiry autonomous from practice. As a scientist, West is free from our field’s predilection towards theory as model for practice–he can speak of his observations, but lets them remain as such. Any practical suggestion would limit the versatility of the information he and his team have produced, forever linking that new body of knowledge with a delimited body of interpretations. By way of example: West’s argument is reminiscent of Christopher Alexander’s classic essay, “A City is Not a Tree,” in which Alexander argues that cities are fundamentally social networks, and that those lattice like-networks are in opposition to the synthetic tree-like networks designed by Modernists from Tange to Hilbershimer. Alexander’s essay, organized categorically and grounded in anecdotal models, is too oppositional to have easy currency outside of its use with respect to the projects it references and criticizes. Given that, it is not surprising that Alexander’s later work in A Pattern Language is more often identified as a political statement against modern planning ideals than as the dictionary of design strategies it purported assumed itself to be. West’s argument, organized systematically rather than categorically and grounded in data rather than anecdote, operates in an epistemological universe resistant to the political and able to be understood and applied in a wide variety of contexts for numerous related and unrelated causes.
We invite you to watch an intriguing lecture Rem Koolhaas recently gave at the Berlage Institute. The lecture covers three interrelated topics: the growth of Preservation, and its blind spots; architecture and democracy; and the ongoing development of the office itself. The video has become extremely popular since it was posted 3 days ago on OMA’s vimeo channel (more views in the first 24 hours than any other of their videos). Check it out.