The dominating news of the week came courtesy of RIBA and IIT, with the two announcing this year’s laureates of the Stirling Prize and Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize, respectively. Foster + Partners were awarded RIBA’s Stirling Prize for their Bloomberg HQ in London. Said jury member Sir David Adjaye, “Bloomberg is a once-in-a-generation project which has pushed the boundaries of research and innovation in architecture.” The project has been a controversial choice, with some citing the tension between the building’s massive price tag and the current UK housing crisis.
On the other side of the pond, Barclay + Crousse received honors for their Edificio E, University of Piura in Peru. The project joins a list of winners that include SANAA’s Grace Farms and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road. In the words of jury member Rodrigo Perez, “It not just a project but an exploration on a type, and therefore a set of spatial notions that invite emulation and even replication. The building is technically undemanding for its simple rules and its recourse to well-tried materials and well established building procedures.”
Form Follows Force
Architectural discourse today is firmly focused on the future, but proposals increasingly seem to blend together in a mass of pastel gradients and single-point perspectives. Clear visions on how we will actually build for the future seem few and far between. It’s perhaps ironic that the “old guard” of architecture remain some of the most forceful visionaries - Helmut Jahn most of all. Vladimir Belogolovsky’s interview with Jahn gave insight into a practitioner who works tirelessly to craft an livable future - one that’s not utopian or dystopian but rather distinctly livable.
Stranger than Fiction
Sometimes reality concocts things that stretch even our imaginations. Perhaps there’s no better example than Fiberbots, a self-constructing digital fabrication platform produced by Mediated Matters at MIT. The project, led in part by materials futurist Neri Oxman, uses robots to create high-strength tubular structures. Due to the technology’s autonomous capability and high-strength , the team hopes Fiberbots can be used as a quick building solution in extreme environments and natural disaster zones.
For something a little closer to home, look no further Iranian architect Nasim Sehat’s vision for future urban living. The project, called SLICE, proposes a variety of plug-in modules that can cater to an array of (envisioned) lifestyles. It’s reminiscent of Japan’s capsule hotels, but intended for more permanent use. As this existing typology seems to increase in popularity, it’s worth taking proposals like this seriously. Is this how we want to live? And will we have a choice?
Architecture on View
While architecture awards are exciting news worldwide, not all of us get to experience these works for ourselves. Film offers the opportunity for us to vicariously experience new perspectives on architecture, and requires only attention and open minds. This year’s architecture film festival in Rotterdam is presenting works revolving around the theme ‘Building Happiness.” It’s a fresh and positive perspective in a moment when it’s easy to criticize.
But architecture often plays a major role in film whether it gets top billing or not. Recent blockbusters and arthouse films alike have used design to their advantage in crafting a believable narrative, even turning to architecture competitions to create the worlds of the future.