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Toronto Takes Top Spot in Metropolis Magazine's Livable Cities Ranking

08:00 - 14 August, 2015
Toronto Takes Top Spot in Metropolis Magazine's Livable Cities Ranking, First Place in the Metropolis list of world's most liveable cities: Toronto. Image © Flickr CC user Robert (username: mamonello)
First Place in the Metropolis list of world's most liveable cities: Toronto. Image © Flickr CC user Robert (username: mamonello)

How do you compare cities? It's difficult to collapse millions of individual subjective experiences into a single method of comparison, but one popular technique used in recent years has been to judge a city's "livability." But what does this word actually mean? In their 2015 ranking of the world's most livable cities, Metropolis Magazine has gathered together a group of experts on city planning, urban life, tourism and architecture to break down "livability" into the categories they think matter and draw upon Metropolis' considerable urban coverage to produce one of the most thorough attempts to rank world series yet attempted. Find out the results after the break.

Why Urban Planners Need to Think Twice About "Aging in Place"

12:00 - 9 August, 2015
Why Urban Planners Need to Think Twice About "Aging in Place", Meramec Bluffs Retirement Community in Missouri.. Image © Wikimedia user Luke Smith
Meramec Bluffs Retirement Community in Missouri.. Image © Wikimedia user Luke Smith

In many western countries, the demographic pyramid is beginning to look inverted, as elderly populations grow and increasingly few children are born at the other end of the scale. How, asks Metropolis Magazine, does society provide for the growing ranks of the retired and newly elderly? Elderly care scandals and and discomfort with the idea of retirement communities has led to a search for ways to care for senior citizens in their own homes. Urban planning expert Deane Simpson, however, warns against accepting the idea of what he calls "aging in place" entirely uncritically: his exploration of the way current retirement communities function goes into the social motivations behind care homes and the United States' elderly communities, and discusses the future of retirement for the emerging baby-boomer generation of retirees. Read the full story over at Metropolis Magazine here.

Are "Public Votes" in Architecture a Bad Thing?

09:30 - 6 August, 2015
UNStudio’s design for a theatre in Den Bosch, the Netherlands was selected in July thanks to support from 57% of the public voters. Image © UNStudio
UNStudio’s design for a theatre in Den Bosch, the Netherlands was selected in July thanks to support from 57% of the public voters. Image © UNStudio

For decades, one of the most pressing questions surrounding architecture and urban planning has been "who gets to decide what is built?" Various systems have been tried, but one of the most popular strategies to emerge in recent years has been "The Public Vote." Thanks to the new possibilities afforded by the internet, it's becoming increasingly common to display all the entries to competitions to the public, as in the Guggenheim Helsinki competition, and even to have the public vote for their favorite, as in the recent competition to design Den Bosch's city centre theatre, or even Karim Rashid's informal poll of his Facebook followers to choose a facade for one of his designs. In some ways these approaches seem like the perfect response to years of complaints that decisions are made behind closed doors, away from the people who they affect.

How The Architectural League Gave a Platform to 30 Years of Emerging Voices

12:30 - 5 August, 2015
How The Architectural League Gave a Platform to 30 Years of Emerging Voices, The Aqua Tower in Chicago by Jeanne Gang, who won the 2006 Emerging Voices award. Image © Wikimedia user Peace01234
The Aqua Tower in Chicago by Jeanne Gang, who won the 2006 Emerging Voices award. Image © Wikimedia user Peace01234

Since 1982, The Architectural League of New York's Emerging Voices awards have helped to launch hundreds of careers and consistently picked out the best and brightest in architecture. To highlight the release of a new anthology of the work of Emerging Voices' luminaries, Metropolis Magazine spoke with the League’s director, Rosalie Genevro, and the program director, Anne Rieselbach, about the mission of the Emerging Voices awards. The interview covers the changing criteria and contexts of the awards, adapting to a new form of voice in the information age and some of the award's most successful alumni. Read the full interview, including inside information on how the selection process works, over at Metropolis Magazine here.

What Can Music Videos Teach Us about Architecture?

09:30 - 5 August, 2015
What Can Music Videos Teach Us about Architecture?

When it comes to the confluence of music and architecture, maybe the first thing that comes to mind is Goethe's claim that "music is liquid architecture." Goethe, however, was writing before the advent of MTV: music videos have become miniature films, attempting to capture all the tone, undercurrents and context of a particular song and translate them visually. Even better, the way music videos use architecture isn't the same as any documentary or film location; the camera attempts to mimic the way people listen to music by cutting and weaving around, designed for listeners as much as they are designed for viewers. Hence we see protagonists turning to the side, important elements placed away from the center and shots that both explore and disguise spaces in an attempt to fit the songs' acoustics to the setting.

What this means for us is that music videos can relate to architecture and capture its underlying tones in a way that a film might struggle to. For an architect wondering how the public truly understand and interact with a piece of architecture or remember a style, music videos are an untapped goldmine, since every setting location and filming choice show off how our wider culture relates to a building. Read on after the break for seven music videos that tell us a surprising amount about the architecture they feature.

Bolivia's Ignored Satellite City is Building Itself a Whole New Identity

08:00 - 24 July, 2015

La Paz, the historic de-facto capital of Bolivia, is widely renowned for its incredible setting, colonial architecture, and cultural buildings. El Alto, on the other hand, is not. It was, in fact, La Paz's rather dismal satellite city, all low rise brick and commuting. Yet El Alto has become the centre of an entirely new, independently evolved architectural style that is rapidly catching on across South America.

Building Elements Come Alive with this Pinecone-Inspired Material that Reacts to Moisture

11:30 - 8 July, 2015

Reactive materials hold huge potential for architects and engineers in the near future, offering forms of interactive and customizable construction that could, if used properly, seriously alter the way in which people interact with their built environment. The massive expansion in the capabilities of touch screens and other glass based technologies have opened up user interfaces to levels where interactive cityscapes are becoming reachable - but creating materials which are themselves reactive is a much less-explored solution. Water Reaction, a project by Royal College of Art student Chao Chen, is an attempt at exactly that: creating a material that reacts to external conditions with no human input required.

An artificial pinecone proof of concept. Image © Chao Chen The reactive surface when open. Image © Chao Chen The reactive canopy when dry. Image © Chao Chen The reactive canopy when wet. Image © Chao Chen + 19

Live on the Edge with OPA's Casa Brutale

14:00 - 3 July, 2015
Live on the Edge with OPA's Casa Brutale, © OPA Works
© OPA Works

In our article for this cliff-hanging project by Modscape published last year, we said that all it really needed was James Bond and an invisible Aston Martin in the garage. Well, the images presented by OPA (Open Platform for Architecture) for their new project offer us James Bond and a (sadly visible) Ferrari. Perhaps it's not quite what we expected, but either way it's a big step forward for the super-villains lair market: Casa Brutale gives us wall-to-wall water and concrete set into cliffs above the Aegean Sea in what OPA promises will be a literally ground-breaking development.

© OPA Works © OPA Works © OPA Works © OPA Works + 22

Through Bankruptcy and Boom: What's Really Happening in Detroit?

09:30 - 19 June, 2015
Through Bankruptcy and Boom: What's Really Happening in Detroit?, ©  Flickr user Daniel Lobo
© Flickr user Daniel Lobo

After exiting bankruptcy at the end of last year, Detroit has suddenly become something of a boomtown in the eyes of the media. Discourse now talks about Detroit Rising, the "Post-Post-Apocalyptic Detroit". Rents are rising, private investment is flowing into the city, and institutions that left the city for the affluent suburbs are now relocating back into Detroit proper. Too long used only as a cautionary tale, the new focus on the reality of Detroit and free flowing money opens the door for architects and urban planners, not to mention the wider community, to begin thinking about how they want to rebuild Detroit, and who they want to rebuild it for.

It’s the perfect opportunity to formulate plans that will genuinely aid Detroit, involve the community and create a revival that really achieves something. But as it stands, the "revival" forming in Detroit, aided and abetted by media coverage, will not improve conditions for the vast majority of Detroiters and will not create a sustainable platform for future growth, instead benefiting only the private investors and those rich enough to benefit from what is currently classic, by-the-book gentrification.

Renaissance Centre, a previous attempt to revitalise Detroit. Image © Flickr user paul bica An abandoned Detroit house. Image © Wikimedia user Notorious4life Detroit's Brush Park neighbourhood in Midtown. Image ©  Flickr user Stephen Harlan Detroit's ExpressTram. Image © Wikimedia user Danleo + 17

Critical Round Up: OMA's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

09:30 - 18 June, 2015
Critical Round Up: OMA's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Timur Shabaev. Image © OMA
Timur Shabaev. Image © OMA

Founded in 2008 and named after the constructivist bus shelter that was its first, temporary home, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is Russia's first private, non-profit art foundation. Relocating from a semi-industrial neighborhood on the northern edge of Moscow to Gorky Park, the Garage Museum's conversion of a Soviet era canteen and social club into Museum of Contemporary Art by OMA has so far been overshadowed by its more glamorous OMA counterpart which opened last month, the Milanese distillery conversion for Prada. Nevertheless, since opening last Friday the Garage Museum has attracted attention for Rem Koolhaas' shift towards preservation, something that has startled the critics. Find out more about what they thought after the break.

Yuri Palmin. Image © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art Yuri Palmin. Image © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art Yuri Palmin. Image © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art David X Prutting. Image © BFA.com + 6

Nevena Katalina Remembers Yugoslav Memorials Through Posters

08:00 - 15 June, 2015
Nevena Katalina Remembers Yugoslav Memorials Through Posters, © Nevena Katalina
© Nevena Katalina

The act of remembering looms large in national cultures. Shared national memories act as a foundation for national identity, a unifying collective interpretation of history that can define what it means to belong in a certain place. Monuments loom even larger - define a national memory in concrete and stone, and you can help define your vision of the nation. That's why Nevena Katalina, a graphic design masters student at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia, has taken the famous abstract war memorials in the former Yugoslavia and translated them into posters, attempting to reconcile the imposing concrete forms with the impact they've had on culture and memory in countries around the former Yugoslavia.

Jasenovac Monument. Image © Nevena Katalina Kosmaj Monument. Image © Nevena Katalina Ilirska Bistrica Monument. Image © Nevena Katalina Ulcinj Monument. Image © Nevena Katalina + 10

Margot Krasojevic on Experimental Architecture and the Challenges of Being Branded a "Parametric Futurist Crap Architect"

14:30 - 12 June, 2015
Margot Krasojevic on Experimental Architecture and the Challenges of Being Branded a "Parametric Futurist Crap Architect", Her Jetway Hotel, comissioned in Doha. Image Courtesy of Margot Krasojevic
Her Jetway Hotel, comissioned in Doha. Image Courtesy of Margot Krasojevic

Experimental architect and psychologist Margot Krasojevic has been designing literally in-credible structures for her entire career. Starting with more conceptual designs, her parametric and outlandish forms are becoming increasingly buildable, and several, including her Jetway Hotel, are under construction. Following on from her latest project, an artificial snow cave which functions as an emergency shelter, ArchDaily was able to talk to Krasojevic about what goes into her work, how she designs and how she feels about the current architectural media - us included.

Metropolis Magazine Collects Tributes to Michael Graves

08:00 - 10 June, 2015
Metropolis Magazine Collects Tributes to Michael Graves, http://www.archdaily.com/407522/ad-classics-the-portland-building-michael-graves/. Image © Wikimedia user Steve Morgan
http://www.archdaily.com/407522/ad-classics-the-portland-building-michael-graves/. Image © Wikimedia user Steve Morgan

In some exceptional cases, an architect can be just as monumental as the buildings they design. Michael Graves, who passed away in March, certainly had a huge influence over the architecture of the late 20th century, with works ranging from the geometric icons of early post-modernism such as the Portland Building, to the slightly more staid Denver Central Library, to the outlandish kitsch of his Swan and Dolphin resorts for Disney. Though his death brought well-deserved attention to his work, it's just as important to remember Graves as a person, and the influence he had on people throughout his lifetime. As such, Metropolis Magazine has brought together a group of Graves' friends, colleagues and collaborators to remember Michael Graves.

http://www.archdaily.com/407522/ad-classics-the-portland-building-michael-graves/. Image © Wikimedia user Steve Morgan http://www.archdaily.com/64270/ad-classics-walt-disney-world-swan-and-dolphin-resort-michael-graves/. Image © Flickr user Jeff B. © Michael Graves & Associates © Michael Graves & Associates + 5

Margot Krasojevic Turns Snow Cave Shelters into Practical, Impossible Art

09:30 - 7 June, 2015
Margot Krasojevic Turns Snow Cave Shelters into Practical, Impossible Art, © Margot Krasojevic
© Margot Krasojevic

The question "what is the point of all this?" has dogged architecture for as long as anyone cares to look, but since the millenniumthe purely theoretical yet theoretically possible designs of Margot Krasojevic have taken this question as a challenge. Her latest proposal, a mesh shelter that takes the concept of snow caves and applies it to an artificial structure, is built for an eminently practical purpose: a built emergency shelter for climbers and others caught in extreme conditions. Yet the elaborate, high tech and naturally contoured structure is as much a thought experiment as it is a serious architectural proposal.

© Margot Krasojevic © Margot Krasojevic © Margot Krasojevic © Margot Krasojevic + 24

CatalyticAction's Playground Puts Children at the Center of Relief Efforts for Syria

09:30 - 5 June, 2015
CatalyticAction's Playground Puts Children at the Center of Relief Efforts for Syria, A drawing of the proposed playground. Image © CatalyticAction
A drawing of the proposed playground. Image © CatalyticAction

The international response to the Syrian War has often struggled to deal with the sheer scale of the disaster; huge numbers of refugees find it difficult even to source the barest essentials for life in the enormous refugee camps that have sprung up in Jordan, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Alongside the overwhelming need for basics, longer term care for displaced Syrian citizens is also proving difficult, but CatalyticAction, a not-for-profit design studio who are in their own words "a group of young graduates who believe that small changes can realize a big impact," believe that this long-term provision is equally important, especially for children.

Providing a sense of normal life for children in the refugee camps is absolutely essential to helping them, and their families, to recover and cope with life as refugees, which this why CatalyticAction have begun crowdfunding the construction of a playground - designed with the help of refugee children - in the Lebanese town of Bar Elias. The playground would allow children to learn through play, provide a sense of normality and, importantly, should create a space that they feel safe in.

A child poses with his plan for a safe playground. Image © CatalyticAction A drawing of the proposed playground. Image © CatalyticAction © CatalyticAction A diagram of the planning process for this project. Image © CatalyticAction + 7

10 Highlights from Guardian Cities' "History of Cities in 50 Buildings"

09:30 - 31 May, 2015
10 Highlights from Guardian Cities' "History of Cities in 50 Buildings", Fiat Tagliero, Asmara. Image © Flickr user David Stanley
Fiat Tagliero, Asmara. Image © Flickr user David Stanley

All good things must come to an end, and Guardian Cities' excellent "History of Cities in 50 Buildings" series is sadly no exception, with only a few more left to be published before they hit 50. The whole series is definitely worth the read, bringing in the best of academic and architectural writing from guest authors and the Guardian's own Cities team, but if you're strapped for time - and if you're an architect, it's fairly likely that's true - we've rounded up 10 highlights from the list to get you started.

Amazonas Theatre, Manaus. Image © Wikimedia user Leaderfo Narkomfin Building, Moscow. Image © Wikimedia user NVO Ponte Tower, Johannesburg. Image © Flickr user fiverlocker Byker Wall Estate, Newcastle. Image © Flickr user George Rex + 11

Bamboom: Elora Hardy's TED Talk on Bamboo's Exploding Popularity

11:30 - 27 May, 2015

Perhaps the most surprising thing about bamboo - besides being an entirely natural, sustainable material with the tensile strength of steel that can grow up to 900 millimeters (3 feet) in just 24 hours - is that it's not more widely recognized as a fantastic construction material. Like many traditional building materials, bamboo no longer has the architectural currency that it once did across Asia and the pacific, but the efforts of Elora Hardy may help put it back into the vernacular. Heading up Ibuku, a design firm that uses bamboo almost exclusively, Hardy's recent TED Talk is an excellent run through of bamboo's graces and virtues in construction, showing off sinuous private homes and handbuilt school buildings.

Karawitz's open shell of bamboo. Image Courtesy of Karawitz Architects The Green School in Bali. Image Courtesy of PT Bambu One of Elora Hardy's bamboo bridges. Image Courtesy of PT Bambu The Green School in Bali. Image Courtesy of PT Bambu + 9

A Country Of Converted Oil Rigs: Is This How To Save The Maldives?

08:30 - 23 May, 2015
A Country Of Converted Oil Rigs: Is This How To Save The Maldives?, A cutaway section of the proposed oil rig structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla
A cutaway section of the proposed oil rig structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla

If you want to see the future of urban adaptation, head to the Maldives. That’s the message and warning behind Mayank Thammalla’s master's thesis from the Unitec School of Architecture in Auckland, New Zealand. Under even the most conservative IPCC forecasts, the low-lying Republic of Maldives will become almost uninhabitable as sea levels rise, while any further rise could leave many of the 200 inhabited islands underwater. It’s an existential threat like no other - in as little as ten year's time, the Maldivian government could be faced with the impossible situation of deciding how to deal with over 400,000 refugees leaving the area where their country used to be. Instead of attempting to rebuild the Maldives elsewhere or mount a series of defences against the oncoming sea, Thammalla’s research project has the difficult goal of realistically preserving Maldivian life in the same geographical location as it is now. His solution? Semi-submersible oil rigs.

A proposed system of transportation between public levels. Image © Mayank Thammalla An exploded view of the structure. Image © Mayank Thammalla A rendering of the proposed structure during a storm. Image © Mayank Thammalla A rendered view from a mosque. Image © Mayank Thammalla + 12