Metropolis Magazine has released a curated list of 19 new books to read this spring, with topics ranging from the evolution of social housing to Stanley Kubrick's unfilmed masterpiece to a fascinating tome on the architecture of Zionism. Not simply volumes detailing well-tread histories, these chosen titles explore every niche category through the lens of architecture. Ever wondered how Buckminster Fuller inspired six former gang members to construct his geodesic dome? Or what metro stations in North Korea look like?
Continuing their Time-Space-Existence series of monthly videos leading up to this year’s Venice Biennale, PLANE—SITE have released a new conversation with architect and former Harvard GSD chair of architecture Toshiko Mori. Each video highlights the ideas that drive the work of well-known designers, with this episode focusing on Mori’s philosophy of visual communication, dialogue with history and considering the future in her work.
Published in partnership with The Greenhouse Talks, the following essay by Aaron Betsky examines limbo spaces and the opportunities presented by these ambiguous areas.
In the spaces where we wait, tarry, or just while away the time, the strictures and structures of good architecture dissolve. In the waiting rooms at airports, government bureaucracies, or doctors' offices, in the places to where we escape to do little to nothing, and in the cocoons we create by using either the latest technology or ancient meditation techniques to come to ourselves, boundaries dissolve. We spend more and more of our time in such spaces. They are the purgatory between the hell of everyday reality and the seamless heaven of virtual social space—or the other way around. What is the architecture of such not-quite-free spaces, and how should we design what is meant to fade away? What do such spaces tell us about the future of architecture?
LA's Pershing Square Is Preparing for a Redesign—And Some Worry They Are Losing a Valuable Civic Space
Surrounded on all sides by "business blocks of architectural beauty and metropolitan dimensions," the intersecting planes of Pershing Square in Los Angeles provide a modernist retreat for many Angelinos in the downtown area. While to some, the square's large stucco tower and aqueduct-like water feature serve as a cultural landmark, the park has drawn negative press due to its lack of green space and abundance of drug-related activity. John Moody purposefully concentrates on the perception, memory, and identity of the space in his documentary Redemption Square—winner of the Best Urban Design Film 2017 at the New Urbanism Film Festival. Using the voice of strangers, residents and those who used to call it home, Moody guides you from the park’s formation in 1866 to its impending renewal: a “radically flat” redesign courtesy of Agence Ter and Gruen Associates.
Since 2015, the tribal community of Apetina in the south Suriname jungle have added a women’s center and seven chicken coops to their village, and there are plans underway to realize a high school, elevated treehouses for ecotourism, a visitor center, housing projects, chicken coops, and more.
Paul Spaltman is the one-man operation behind the designs of these structures, but “everything started with these nice renders made in Lumion," he explains. "It wasn’t enough to show 2D drawings or simply tell them what the project was going to be. When they saw the actual 3D renders, it helped them believe the project was possible. They already had the design. They could see the construction and that the entire project was, more or less, thought out. They could see that the project wasn’t just a dream, but one step further.”
As lead designer of the Lever House and many of America’s most historically prominent buildings, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft (9 May 1909 – 6 August 1990) is credited with ushering in a new era of Modernist skyscraper design and corporate architecture. A stern figure and a loyal advocate of the International Style, Bunshaft spent the majority of his career as partner and lead designer for SOM, who have referred to him as “a titan of industry, a decisive army general, an architectural John Wayne.”
As the first ever Spanish architect to receive the Pritzker Prize, Rafael Moneo (born 9 May 1937) is known for his highly contextual buildings which nonetheless remain committed to modernist stylings. His designs are regularly credited as achieving the elusive quality of "timelessness"; as critic Robert Campbell wrote in his essay about Moneo for the Pritzker Prize, "a Moneo building creates an awareness of time by remembering its antecedents. It then layers this memory against its mission in the contemporary world."
Mexico City's Controversial Airport Project Could Be a Preservation Site for a Collection of Modernist Murals
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "How a Small Mexico City Exhibition Fueled a Debate About Preservation and Power."
It’s a slate-gray day in Mexico City’s Colonia Narvarte neighborhood and mounting gusts signal imminent rain. Centro SCOP, a sprawling bureaucratic complex, rises sharply against this bleak backdrop. The building is a masterful, if not intimidating, example of Mexican Modernism, an H-shaped assemblage of muscular concrete volumes designed by architect Carlos Lazo, covered in an acre-and-a-half of vibrant mosaic murals.
At its peak, the building accommodated more than 3,000 workers for the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT). Today, save a security guard in its gatehouse, it is empty.
It’s no mystery why we put people in our designs. People are the quickest way to an emotional connection. With the right visual cues, you can evoke deep feelings, turning a simple image into a source of awe or aspiration. In architectural visualization, we try to shape those feelings, working off the perceptions most of us share. While we are all creatures of circumstance, using our experiential knowledge to guide us day-to-day, a lot of our conditioning is the same. Which is why it is so important to consider how you use people when you create visualizations of your designs.
Entourage are your visual guides, alerting the viewer to the story or feelings you want to convey. Sometimes that story is one of usage, an explanation of how someone interacts or moves about a space. Other times, it’s a bit more abstract. Whatever the direction, the art of entourage is really a study of composition, conditioning, and narrative. The more you know about each topic, the better your visualization will turn out—especially when you have a complicated brief.
In this piece, I’d like to show you how we approach entourage at Kilograph. Since our backgrounds are diverse—artists, architects, brand experts, and VR technicians—we are constantly having discussions about how to make people stand out, from a psychological and aesthetic perspective. Here’s what we’ve found.
A lot of things are said about Smiljan Radic. Some say that he belongs to an architecture that borders on the sculptural. It is also said that both his aesthetic and his silence is admired by his peers. It is also said that he is so hermetic that he doesn’t even have a website to promote his work. All these things are said about the 52 years old Chilean architect, before he starts his talk "more or less a year," at the Puerto de Ideas Festival in Valparaíso (Chile), where he reviews his latest projects.
"Saying something -and saying something else- has always seemed impossible or very difficult for me. I always collect things from everywhere. And that's what I do. There isn’t much more to it than that: there is little invention. In spite of everything, one has to end up talking, saying things. And today we are going to talk about what I could and could not do in the past year", he says at the beginning of his talk at the Cousiño Palace in Valparaíso.
This week we present a selection of the best images of brick houses published on our site. These 11 Mexican projects reveal the diversity of expression that architects in the country have achieved through creative arrangements of the brick modules. read on for a selection of images from prominent photographers such as Carlos Berdejo Mandujano, Onnis Luque, and Patrick Lopez.
In their latest video from the Time-Space-Existence series, PLANE—SITE features acclaimed conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner and his ideas regarding the relationship between people and material objects, language as a gesture, and making art accessible to the public. Lawrence Weiner is known for his typographical art applied onto elements of the built environment, and he describes how architecture itself can become an alternative space to present art.
This project emerged during the summer of 2015, when CHOPEkE Collective, together with Paúl Pérez, a seminarian and active member of the group, visited the community of Santa Luisa de Marillac, located in the central periphery of Ciudad Juárez. At the time, members of the community had an "unworthy" space -as they called it- for their meetings and spiritual activities.
Not many architects will come across the challenge of building in outer space, but who knows what the future will hold... asteroid mining and space photobioreactors? In a recent article, Metropolis Magazine looks into the design of the International Space Station, examining how our conventional rules of architecture become obsolete in zero gravity. Walls, ceilings, and floors can be interchangeable, and "form follows function" is taken to the extreme.
2018 marks 20 years since construction first began on the International Space Station. The satellite is made up of 34 separate pieces, each of which was either delivered by space shuttle or self-propelled into space. With absolutely no room for error, the 13-year construction of the space station was perhaps one of the big success stories of the millennium, seeing 230 astronauts, cosmonauts and space-tourists visit over the past two decades.
Sketching is the best way to work through design problems. Since no designer is an island, sometimes sketching collaboratively is the best way of working through design problems together. Other times, you sketch a bit, create a proper drawing, and then present to colleagues, clients or stakeholders.
"Whether you're resolving a challenging condition by yourself, or helping a client to visualize, we all sketch it out first," explained Sophie Amini, Creative Director at Pooky. "With Archisketch, more often than not, even I prefer to put aside my paper and pencil and whip off a sketch on my iPad. At Pooky, we work very closely, both with each other and with the manufacturers. We talk through sketches and ideas at length before deciding which samples to get made up. Sketches are translated into technical drawings, from which the manufacturers can work."
Nepal's "Vertical University" Will Include 6 Campuses In 5 Climatic Zones to Teach About Climate Change
KTK-BELT Studio, a not-for-profit organization based in rural Nepal, is currently working with local communities to create a fascinating "Vertical University," which will teach students about biodiversity and environmental conservation in 6 "living classrooms" positioned along a vertical forest corridor that stretches from 67 meters above sea level to the top of an 8,856-meter peak. These 6 stops encapsulate the 5 climatic zones of Eastern Nepal: tropical, subtropical, temperate, subarctic and arctic.
The project explores the specific impacts of climate change in each climatic zone, creating “classrooms” where students can walk from Koshi Tappu to Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third tallest peak in the world, and learn onsite from indigenous farmers about the biological diversity of each area. By teaching place-based skills in these micro-conservation hubs, the project aims to conserve and activate local knowledge. Each of these “classrooms” responds to the visual and cultural cues of its unique landscape, with one campus focusing on a flood-proof design in a heavy monsoon area, and another mimicking the semi-nomadic lifestyle of local yak-herders.
Gravity is undeniable. We stand, lift packages, wince when we see our weight on the scale. For architects, gravity has special meaning: it is the essential force to be dealt with. Weather, energy, materials all matter too—but those all have local realities specific to their location.
Gravity is the forever constant. But there is another universal element in design: history, the role of what has passed from idea to reality in all things, everywhere. Whether there are “reasons” for a building being formed or finished in a certain way, the undeniable lens of history is always part of how designers think about what’s to be built.
In architecture we are so caught up in creating something new, we often forget about what happens at the end of a building’s life cycle—the unfortunate, inevitable demolition. We may want our buildings to be timeless and live on forever, but the harsh reality is that they do not, so where is all the waste expected to go?
As with most non-recyclable waste, it ends up in the landfill and, as the land required for landfill becomes an increasingly scarce resource, we must find an alternative solution. Each year in the UK alone, 70–105 million tonnes of waste is created from demolishing buildings, and only 20% of that is biodegradable according to a study by Cardiff University. With clever design and a better awareness of the biodegradable materials available in construction, it’s up to us as architects to make the right decisions for the entirety of a building’s lifetime.
Whether it's to start analyzing a detail or impressing someone in conversation, understanding a classical building begins with an awareness of the different classical orders of architecture. In the historical records of architecture, the first account of the orders was written by Vitruvius: "[...] The orders came to provide a range of architectural expressions, ranging from roughness and firmness to slenderness and delicacy. In true classical design, order choice is a vital issue—it is the choice of tone,"  which for the author, synthesizes the "architecture grammar." 
According to John Summerson, author of The Classical Language of Architecture, "[...] a classic building is one whose decorative elements derive directly or indirectly from the architectural vocabulary of the ancient world—the 'classical' world [...]. These elements are easily recognizable, such as, for example, the five standard types of columns that are used in a standardized way, the standard treatments of openings and pediments, or, still, the standardized series of ornaments that are employed in classical buildings." 
This article was originially published by Metropolis Magazine as "Architects, Armed with Data, Are Seeing the Workplace Like Never Before."
A workplace that improves employee productivity and efficiency has been a white whale of corporate managers for decades. But even before the office as we know it today was born, designers and innovators were already studying sites of labor, such as the factory, to devise strategies to boost worker performance. By the 1960s, Robert Propst, the inventor behind Herman Miller’s Action Office line of workplace furniture, and others were conducting workspace research that would ultimately lead to the creation of the modern cubicle.
These developments relied largely on observation and intuition to organize office workers in purportedly effective ways. Now, advances in technology allow designers to take a more sophisticated approach, using sensors, internet-connected furniture and fixtures, and data analytics to study offices in real time. “You can take into account every single employee, and people are very different,” says London architect Uli Blum. “It’s about solving the fundamental problems of getting people the environment they need. And the easiest way is to ask them,” he adds. But finding out the needs of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of workers can quickly become an exercise in futility.
Considered one of the noblest building materials - and also a favorite of many global architects - wood delivers aesthetic, structural, and practical value in the most versatile of ways. Accompanied by different techniques - crafted or prefabricated - wooden construction has remained relevant in the history and forefront of architecture and design, thanks to new technologies that have expanded its possibilities.
From temporary pavilions to single-family homes and vertical, large-scale institutions, wood has maintained its value at the same level as many other structural materials such as steel, brick, or even concrete. This is especially prominent in the United States where renowned architects are using new techniques to advance this material which has also been posible thanks to the new regulations that allow further exploring and diversity.
Here are 100 examples of wood structures in the United States that we have selected from our favorite ArchDaily projects.
The editorial notes on Arts & Architecture’s 11th Case Study House set out the “basic principles of modern architecture”: an emphasis on “order, fitness and simplicity.” Livability and practicality are key, and “sham” is frowned on. As with other houses in the series, this design by JR Davidson adheres to these goals with clean, horizontal lines, an open floor plan, and integration of the outdoor space.
It’s a modest, compact home, less high-concept than some of the other houses in the programme—no indoor plantings or reflecting pools; no complicated backstory for the imagined clients (think of the next two, #12 and especially #13)—but arguably more successful in providing a model for the average American home. Its value doesn’t depend on dramatic landscaping or views, but on thoughtful design and attention to solving everyday problems. Walking through Archilogic’s 3D model reveals the elegance of Davidson’s approach.
We all know the typical architect’s look: a black turtleneck, slim fit pants, pointed toe boots, and minimalist jewelry pieces. Almost all of us, at one point or another, have tried to imitate the style of our favorite architect. Perhaps it was by sporting a pair of Corbusier and Philip Johnson’s iconic round glasses. Maybe it was through a chic statement haircut, or it could even have been by adopting the unofficial uniform of designers with the all-black outfit. If none of these sound appealing to you, there's no need to worry- there are still plenty of other ways to look like your favorite famous architect.
Designing the interior of an apartment when you have very little space to work with is certainly a challenge. We all know that a home should be as comfortable as possible for its inhabitants, but when we have only a few square meters to work with and the essential functions of the home to distribute, finding an efficient layout is not easy. Following our popular selection of houses under 100 square meters, we've gone one better: a selection of 26 floor plans between 20 and 50 square meters to inspire you in your own spatially-challenged designs.