The 20 Best Articles of 2013

The 20 Best Articles of 2013

The following 20 articles are what we at ArchDaily consider the Best of 2013. They may not have received the most traffic, but they posed fascinating theories about the state of architecture and urbanism today, they gave us insight into the creative processes of innovative architects (from Bjarke Ingels to Peter Zumthor) and, most of all, they provoked us to question: What does architecture mean? For us architects, and for the world?

See all our editors' picks for the best articles of 2013, after the break..

20. Robots, Cars, & Architecture by David Basulto

Precision robots at Audi's factory in Inglostadt can assemble a complete car every 30 seconds. How might architects learn from this technology in the face of growing urban populations and the demand for more efficient, sustainable houses and cities? -- Chosen by David Basulto

19. When Will Architects Speak Up for Women's Rights? by Carla Corroto

Corroto's article exposes a rather unsettling example of how architectural issues can become co-opted for political ends. Corroto rightly highlights how, rather than taking political action, architects and the architecture media have allowed less pressing examples of feminist issues to take the spotlight. Once again, the article is an important call for architects to speak out, not just about the issue at hand, but more generally in the political sphere. -- Chosen by Rory Stott

Superkilen masterplan designed by BIG + Topotek1 + Superflex. Image © Iwan Baan

18. 4 Lessons the UK Should Take from Denmark by Rory Stott

Denmark has committed itself to revamping the country’s architecture policy with the understanding that a well-designed city not only strengthens national pride, but makes economic sense. City officials and architects worldwide only stand to gain by considering the lessons learned from Denmark’s innovative policy. -- Chosen by Karissa Rosenfield

17. Invasive Aesthetics: A Manifesto for Reviving Architectural Identity in Developing Nations by Zaheer Allam & Zarrin Allam

This article, submitted to us by Zaheer and Zarrin Allam, two residents of Mauritius, is an important examination of how globalization is effectively eliminating local vernacular architecture: a trend that is only becoming more widespread and pernicious as our world becomes more and more urbanized. To follow-up, I also recommend reading this account by Marika Shiori-Clark, co-founder of MASS Design Group, which suggests how Western architects can avoid the "colonialist" pitfalls of globalization by authentically engaging with local communities. -- Chosen by Vanessa Quirk

16. For Architects Only? How Kanye Exposed Architecture’s Bias by Lian Chikako Chang

Kanye West's visit to Harvard's GSD and the attention it generated seemed surreal. Following the derision hurled at the rapper over his use of the word "architect" as a verb, Lian Chikako Chang steered the conversation towards a very important point: "when we acknowledge that some people have the right to use certain words and others do not, we are keeping people in their place." This article reminds us that we do more harm than good when we dismiss certain voices in the conversation. -- Chosen by Becky Quintal

Courtesy of

15. The Moscow Affair by Vanessa Quirk

This article explores how Russia, just like the United States post-World War II, has fallen in love with the automobile, with dangerous consequences for its cities (particularly Moscow). Can Moscow resist temptation and transform its sprawling, smoggy, traffic-run capital into a people-oriented capital of the world? -- Chosen by David Basulto

14. On Zombies & the Immortality of the Shopping Mall by Matthew Newton

In this article, writer Matthew Newton skillfully recounts the rise and fall of the Shopping Mall - as well as its enduring significance in the American psyche. -- Chosen by Vanessa Quirk

13. The Architect and the Accessible City: The Prize-Winning Essay by Sophia Bannert

To understand the daily difficulties a disabled city dweller is forced to overcome, architecture student Sophia Bannert spent a day as a wheelchair user in the English town of Lincoln. Her experience and reflections shared in this prize-winning essay is worth the consideration of all architects, as, in the words of Raymond Lifchez, "Architecture can be empowering, only if architects develop empathy.” -- Chosen by Karissa Rosenfield

12. Parasite or Saviour? Ibelings van Tilburg’s Hovering New High-Rise by Anneke Bokern

Anneke Bokern's examination of a Rotterdam housing project reveals the intricacies of Ibelings van Tilburg's approach to a persistent question for architects: How should old and new exist in our cities? Maybe we shouldn't classify our new buildings as either "parasite" or "savior" but understand that we when allow both old and new to exist, we create useful mutual dependencies. -- Chosen by Becky Quintal

ROB/Arch Workshop, Rotterdam. Image Courtesy of

11. Architecture by Robots for Humanity by Jonathan Molloy

This article, by one of our former interns, tackles an intriguing topic: What can robots do for architecture? And, more importnatly, how can robots help architecture better serve humanity? -- Chosen by David Basulto

10. The Indicator: Why the Solar Decathlon Should Enter the Real World by Guy Horton

It's never out of place to ask for - and expect - more from an organization (even one with positive aims). In this article Horton attempts to wake the Solar Decathlon from its complacency, not just with criticism of its current format, but also with realistic suggestions for improvement. -- Chosen by Rory Stott

Wangjing SOHO: Northwest Aerial . Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

9. Why China’s Copy-Cats Are Good For Architecture by Vanessa Quirk

ArchDaily's own Vanessa Quirk tells us that purely scoffing at the Chinese tendency to "knock-off" buildings ignores the complexity of a certain kind of built experimentation. Instead of reading China's "copy-cats" as an outright theft of intellectual property, what can this form of adaptation tell us our own cultural frame of mind? -- Chosen by Becky Quintal

8. Why Green Architecture Hardly Ever Deserves the Name by Michael Mehaffy & Nikos Salingaros

Taking a critical look at the current state of "sustainable” building rating systems, Michael Mehaffy & Nikos Salingaros present a convincing and vital argument: many of our “green” icons hardly deserve the name. -- Chosen by Karissa Rosenfield

Destruction of Pruit-Igoe. Image Courtesy of US Department of Housing and Urban Development

7. Why It's Time to Give Up on Prefab by Chris Knapp

Most great arguments involve convincing people to let go of their preconceived ideas on a subject. Knapp's argument - that when it comes to prefabrication, we have become too modern for modernism - is a prime example. -- Chosen by Rory Stott

6. Letter to the Editor: The Expression “Starchitect” Has Passed Its Shelf Life by AD Editorial Team & Stephan W. Jaklitsch

When Stephan W. Jaklitsch wrote to us, he pointed out an issue that had been troubling the ArchDaily editors for some time. We, too, believed that the term "starchitect" had outlived its shelf life. The post generated insightful comments, including ones that suggested that the culture of celebrity might actually benefit the profession. -- Chosen by David Basulto

The September 11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City. North Pool looking Southeast. Image © Joe Woolhead

5. I Wept But About What I Cannot Say: Martin Filler’s Moving Tribute to Michael Arad’s 9/11 Memorial by Martin Filler

A masterful piece of writing from architectural critic and heavyweight Martin Filler. This article, which came to us via our friends at Metropolis Magazine, eloquently profilesMichael Arad and his moving design for the National September 11 Memorial at Ground Zero. -- Chosen by Vanessa Quirk

4. The Prince: Bjarke Ingels’s Social Conspiracy by Justin Fowler

I read this article when it was originally published in Thresholds and was really impressed by Justin Fowler's take on Bjarke's shaping of both physical and social environments. The piece addresses Bjarke's success in terms that are valuable for all architects--whether media darlings or not--since changing the social might actually be, as Fowler suggests, about being social. -- Chosen by Becky Quintal

3. What Will Be Mandela's Spatial Legacy? By Vanessa Quirk

I love this article mostly for its brave conclusion that Mandela's progressive reforms have failed to manifest themselves spatially in South African cities. This is a demonstration that, politically, architects and urban designers are failing to keep up with the rest of society. -- Chosen by Rory Stott

2. Why Cycle Cities Are the Future by Simon Henley

A cycling revolution is taking place worldwide, offering for the first time in almost two centuries an opportunity for cities to invest in an infrastructure that can dramatically improve publish health. Taking insight from a 1,300 mile cycling journey through the states, author and architect Simon Henley investigates the future of cycle cites and questions just how cycling will actually change our built environment. -- Chosen by Karissa Rosenfield

1. Can We Please Stop Bashing Architects? by Rory Stott

Rory's article cleverly examines the contradictory critiques lodged at architects - architects are "meglomaniac artistes" / architects are ineffectual cowards - in order to underscore an unhealthy division that exists within the architecture profession itself. More importantly, however, Rory also offers a possible middle way for architects to follow in order to avoid this binary trap. -- Chosen by Vanessa Quirk

David Basulto is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of ArchDaily. Follow him on Twitter @dbasulto

Becky Quintal is the Executive Editor of ArchDaily. Follow her on Twitter @bq_bq_bq

Vanessa Quirk is the Manager of Editorial for ArchDaily. You can follow her on Twitter @vmquirk.

Karissa Rosenfield is the manager of News for ArchDaily. You can follower her on Twitter @MsKarissaJean

Rory Stott has been a Contributing Editor for ArchDaily since January 2013 (when he began as a humble intern). You can follow Rory on Twitter @StottR

Image of the evening view over the Kremlin via

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Cite: Vanessa Quirk. "The 20 Best Articles of 2013" 31 Dec 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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