The Alvar Aalto Foundation has begun a collaborative project with Google to make Aalto buildings even more accessible to the public. Using Google’s revolutionary Street View navigation tool, along with its virtual Cultural Institute, the project offers a look inside some of Aalto’s most iconic works of architecture. Learn more about this initiative and see the virtual journey for yourself after the break.
Is Bigger Better? HOK’s Acquisition of 360 Architecture and How Mergers Have Changed the Business of Design
International design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK has recently announced its plan to acquire 360 Architecture, a firm specializing in sports facility design. With HOK’s global influence and 360 Architecture’s expertise, the acquisition could bring about significant advances in sports facility design and expand the market reach for each firm. When it comes to the business of architecture, acquisitions such as this often enable large corporate firms to take on a wider variety of projects, giving them a competitive edge against famous designer names in the industry. But what else can we learn from the growth of the world's largest firms?
Is it possible to build low cost homes in the city that are both sustainable and easy on the eyes? Self Build on a Shoestring in the City, organized by the National Custom & Self Build Association and Grand Designs Live, is an ideas competition in its second year that seeks to answer this question by showcasing innovative designs for a group self build project in an urban location. More details after the break.
International architecture firm NBBJ has created Sunbreak, a new prototype for user-controlled sunshades that will not only lower energy costs, but also give buildings a dynamic appearance throughout the day.
Technology currently exists for automatically regulating solar gains in buildings, but the downside to these systems is that they often lack manual controls, and one of the most common complaints heard from workers in modern office buildings is that they do not have enough control over their environment. Automatic sunshades go up or down based on the time of day but if it happens to be cloudy outside or if users want natural light in a room when the shades are down there may be nothing they can do.
Architects have always questioned what the cities of the future will look like. In the 1960s and 70s, one of the most prominent advocates of this field of "futurology" within architecture was historian and critic Michel Ragon. In an upcoming exhibition entitled City As A Vision, the FRAC Centre pays tribute to Ragon by presenting both historical and prospective urban concepts by architects throughout the last fifty years.
London is the world’s most expensive city to build in, but the reasons may surprise you. The city is well known for its high cost of living despite being far less crowded than cities such as Tokyo and New York. In fact, commercial real estate in London’s West End costs nearly twice as much as similarly sized spaces on New York’s Madison Avenue.
London based firm McDowell+Benedetti has recently announced that their design for a new 180 metre footbridge and improved rail station in Terni, Italy, has begun work on the site. A future landmark for the town, the £3.5 million (€4.4 million) project promises to provide an expanded commuter hub for the area with connections to fast trains to Rome. Learn more about this project after the break.
Although the practice of architecture has historically done little to address the basic needs of those in the developing world, in recent years architects have gradually extended their reach into the realm of humanitarian work, as most notably exemplified by Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban. Despite these advances, one third of the world’s population does not have access to adequate sanitation. This is astounding given the amount of resources and technology we have available to us in the 21st century, and it is a problem that architects have the opportunity to solve; some architects, including Julia King, have already begun to take on this challenge. It is also the focus of “Zero Project,” the first initiative of non-profit organization BuildAChange. Read about their proposal after the break.
Architecture competitions offer an opportunity for architects to launch their careers, and in some cases generate unexpected designs in the process. Many iconic works of architecture, including the famous Sydney Opera House, were the result of open design competitions - but do architecture competitions today maintain the influence they might have had in the past? While critics in the United States have recently argued that it could be time to quit competitions, Donald Bates argues that Australians should be organizing more. In his article on The Conversation, Bates discusses the state of design competitions in Australia, and why we should take another look. Read the full article here.
In their collateral event for the debut of the Moscow pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the exhibition "Moskva: urban space" explores the historic development of public spaces and examines the city’s progress in the context of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s winning proposal for Zaryadye Park. Curated by Sergey Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow together with Kristin Kristin Feireiss from AEDES, and organized by MCA - Moscow Committee of Architecture and Urban Development, the exhibition comes at a pivotal moment in determining the future of urban development in Moscow. As Kuznetsov states, "While the face of Moscow in the past 100 years was largely determined by the architecture of its buildings, representing political and economic developments, today’s urban singularity is based on the “connective fabric” of its public spaces that have become equally important identity-makers and contributes significantly to improving the quality of urban life for its citizens." To see photos of the exhibition by Patricia Parinejad and learn more about the story behind it, continue reading after the break.
Since we spend most of our waking hours in buildings, shouldn't they be designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle? It turns out there are many ways in which architects can design spaces that encourage us to exercise as part of our daily routine. Likewise there are many design features that often dissuade people from physical activity. For example, while a dark or secluded staircase may be off-putting, centrally located and open staircases tend to be used even more than elevators. Find out how buildings can serve as our personal trainers in this article from Fast Co. Design, “How To Keep Our Buildings From Making Us Fat.”
Biomimicry is quickly emerging as one of the next architectural frontiers. New manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, coupled with the drive to make buildings more environmentally sustainable, have led to a wave of projects that are derived from natural phenomena or even constructed with biological materials. A recent example of this trend is “Hy-Fi,” this summer’s MoMA PS1 design that is constructed of organic and compostable eco-bricks. Other projects such as MIT Media Lab’s Silk Pavilion have taken biological innovation a step further by actually using a biometric construction processes - around 6,500 silkworms wove the Silk Pavilion's membrane. “Animal Printheads,” as Geoff Manaugh calls them in his article "Architecture-By-Bee and Other Animal Printheads," have already proven to be a viable part of the manufacturing process in art, and perhaps in the future, the built environment as well. But what happens when humans engineer animals to 3D print other materials?
The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has recently unveiled the landscape design plans for the West Kowloon Cultural District, a scheme that will activate the waterfront and create a dynamic green space in what will be one of the largest cultural developments in the world. Developed by Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers, with West 8 and ACLA, the concept plan features outdoor areas for exhibitions and performances, recreational lawns, and a waterfront promenade.
Every year as the weather gets warmer, millions of visitors flock to music festivals around the world. Fans often have to brave the elements and sleep in tents to attend such events, and if hotel rooms are available they are usually in short supply. However, the B-AND-BEE camping concept may offer a smart alternative.