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How the Law's Loopholes Shape Our Cities

In preparation for its December issue, entitled The Law and its Consequences, Volume Magazine is holding an open call for examples of local laws that have had unintended - or just unusual - consequences for our cities. The issue asks: "If we consider the law to be a piece of design, can we apply design intelligence to the law?"

The law has a long history of affecting a city's character. Perhaps the earliest design stipulation is contained in the book of Deuteronomy (22:8): "In case you build a new house, you must also make a parapet for your roof, that you may not place bloodguilt upon your house because someone falling might fall from it." Since then, laws such as fire regulations, zoning restrictions and preservation guidelines have become an everyday conundrum for architects, ultimately affecting the outcome of design. But these laws often create unexpected loopholes, which can lead to peculiar design quirks that come to define a city's sense of place.

Read on after the break for just some examples of the consequences of the law

Volume #31: Guilty Landscapes

Volume # 28: Internet of Things

This issue of Volume explores architects’ roles in the age of the internet. For us at ArchDaily, this is a topic we find very interesting. We ask all the architects we interview how the internet has changed their practice; their answers nicely complement this issue. (You can check them out in our interview section). I, personally, enjoyed the section titled “Tracing Concepts.” It illustrates the influence design ideas have had on the computing world and vise versa. For example, it details how Christopher Alexander’s ideas about design patterns has spurred on object-oriented programming and bottom-up design solutions.

Volume # 26: Architecture of Peace

A recent issue of Volume titled “Architecture of Peace” asks what role architects can play in promoting peace. This fearless issue makes the squabbling over Steven Holl’s extension to Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art seem rather trivial. Trying to promote peace in war torn areas like Israel, Palestine, Sudan, and South Eastern Europe takes far more courage or hubris than building onto an architectural treasure. The stakes are far higher and the critics far louder. That, however, did not prevent Volume from diving headlong into politically and emotionally charged issues. No single reader will agree with every article in this issue, but Volume’s willingness to openly discuss such volatile and critical topics is what makes this issue so intriguing and captivating to read. Failing to recognize the merit of this work because of disagreements would be an unfortunate error in judgment. At the same time, restraining personal dissent out of respect would be a disservice to this unshrinking issue. This issue begs for dialogue and respectful disagreement. I highly recommend our readers to pick up this issue and continue the dialogue on this very important topic. You might not agree with every article, but keep the dialogue going.

My personal challenge following the break.

Volume #19

In times of crisis, hope is what we need. And hope is what the latest issue of Volume magazine explores under the title “Architecture of Hope”.

Once again, Arjen Oosterman writes a short yet provocative editorial, starting by why they choose to only use black&white images on this issue.  He brings back the subject of the welfare society during post-War, and compares the european and american models of sprawl/density which are key aspects of current crisis.

And since hope is the word of the day, “Yes we can” is also mentioned on the editorial and other articles related to Obama.

More about this issue after the break.

Volume #17: Content Management

When we interviewed Jeffrey Inaba at the C-LAB, we had a great conversation as they were working on this issue, “Content Management”, something we are very into at ArchDaily – so we had the chance to discuss the implications of new media, globalization and architecture.

But back to this edition. It follows the tradition of Volume with a great editorial, this time by Inaba himself:

“At the close of this era of expansion and surplus C-Lab speculates on one of the period´s emblematic inventions: Content Management, or the collecting, organizing and sharing of digital information. Our retrospective appraisal of recent developments in the managing of information offers insight into the ability of Content Management to serve the current realities of digital abundance and material shortage, and to protect both vast and extremely limited quantities.

Like Content Management systems, Architecture arranges information and objects into a navigable environment using technology to configure the environment´s spaces and circulation routes. It embodies the values of the presentedd content, setting the tone for the visitor´s experience through the design of the public interface. Architecture is a structure of experiences involving interaction with numerous forms of content, introducing choice, connections, updates, human encounter and surprise, and in this respect is the precursor and operating blueprint of Content Management As you will see, some of the essays and interviews describe how architecture continues to inform the thinking behind Content Management, for better and worse“.

It presents an interesting reflection on the current state of globalization, on which we have infinite amounts of information available at the tip of our fingers, while facing massive shortfalls (energy, natural resources).

At some point it compares the created necessity of Content Management as a result of the amounts of information we publish, with the early architects of Koolhaas´Manhattan who legitimized the necessity of their profession by causing the irreversible  state of congestion which they then took as their mission to solve.

AD Interviews: C-Lab / Jeffrey Inaba and Benedict Clouette

While in New York a few months ago, we interviewed several architects with a set of standard and specific questions, gathering different opinions on current state of practice in contemporary society.

Volume #16: Engineering Society

A few weeks ago we received the latest issue of Volume Magazine, a joint effort between Archis, AMO and the C-LAB. Continuing with their tradition of thematic issues with suggestive names, number 16 is called Engineering Society.

It relates somehow to Volume #14 (Unsolicited Architecture), on which the editorial analyzes the lost of relevance of modern architects because of their failure to adapt to a market driven society, urging them (us) to answer current society questions from the field of architecture.

On this issue, Arjen Oosterman starts with -yet another- incredible editorial, Planning Paradise, that analyzes how architects tried to impose their utopias in the past, without a direct relation with the end user of these projects. But now, we can certainly tell that society can´t no longer be made, and it´s actually being driven and shaped by the users as a consequence of democracy, and free market economy and politics. And this opens a new opportunity for architects, to be the ones that present new futures to this users, an opportunity lost long time ago in “our consumer society of commodity logic“.