“A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.” Le Corbusier. This architecture city guide celebrates Modernism in one of the world's greatest cities: New York. We embark on an architectural journey through nearly a century of innovative, revolutionary architecture: from early 20th century, revivalist Beaux-Arts; to machine-age Art Deco of the Inter-War period; to the elegant functionalism of the International Style; to the raw, exposed Brutalism characteristic of the Post-War years; and, finally, to the splendid forms of organic architecture. From world-renowned landmarks to undiscovered jewels, we invite you to explore the 2,028 blocks that make Manhattan an architectural mecca for citizens around the world.
Architect, photographer and journalist. Former ArchDaily editor.
“Most of the People Thought it was Ugly - Like a Petrol Station": David Chipperfield on the Neue Nationalgalerie's Renovation
When David Chipperfield was asked about what visitors should expect to see when he concludes the renovation of Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, he said: “Imagine a 1965 Mercedes. It looks fine, but it’s falling apart on the inside. We want to put it in the shop, take it apart and put it back together again, so when someone turns on the switch - the engine will work.” Due to the ongoing pandemic health regulations, the 2021 re-opening saw a limited number of journalists and visitors to tour alongside Chipperfield and explore the newly-renovated architecture. Editor and photographer Gili Merin had the opportunity to photograph the project during the pre-opening event and interview the world-renowned architect.
The Dymaxion House was a futuristic dwelling invented by the architect and practical philosopher R. Buckminister Fuller - who would have turned 124 today. The word “Dymaxion,” which combines the words dynamic, maximum and tension, was coined (among many others) by Fuller himself.
In 1920 Fuller wished to build a sustainable autonomous single family dwelling, the living machine of the future. Although never built, the Dymaxion's design displayed forward-thinking and influential innovations in prefabrication and sustainability. Not only would the house have been exemplary in its self-sufficiency, but it also could have been mass-produced, flat-packaged and shipped throughout the world.
More on this revolutionary design after the break...
In the quaint Dutch town of Den Bosch, amongst typical brick-clad homes and winding canals, sits the odd community of Bolwoningen: a cluster of globe-shaped stilt houses punctuated with round windows in a sea of wild vegetation. Built in 1984, these oversized “golf balls” are, in fact, homes: an eccentric product of a relatively unknown architectural experiment conducted by a visionary architect, attempting to impose a new morphological dwelling solution, and hoping to generate a new residential typology. Instead, the bizarre neighbourhood remains a secluded, momentary anecdote in architectural history, and today, provides a glimpse into an age of praised radicalism and irrepressible imagination.
More on these “oddballs” after the break.
In Berlin, Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie has begun a new phase today with the opening of David Chipperfield’s intervention, a prologue to the imminent restoration which the famed British architect is about to undertake. Completed in 1968, the gallery was Mies’ last project and his final masterpiece; for nearly fifty years, nobody dared to touch it - until now. Marking this event is a large, site-specific installation, created by Chipperfield as an attempt to engage Mies in a spatial experiment (or perhaps a last, apologetic tribute to the 20th-century master) moments before he is about to embark on a mission which will, inevitably, transform Mies’ ultimate legacy.
Derelict urban landscapes and abandoned spaces have always attracted adventurous explorers, searching for a peek into the world of a fallen industrial dystopia. That desire can be fulfilled by a visit to the Zollverein complex in Essen, Germany: once Europe’s largest coal mine, Zeche Zollverein was transformed over 25 years into an architectural paradise. Contributions by Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and SANAA are included in the 100-hectare park; overwhelming in its complexity, the estate includes rusty pipes, colossal coal ovens and tall chimneys, inviting over 500,000 people per day to gain an insight into the golden age of European heavy-industry.
Join us for a photographic journey through this machine-age playground, after the break…
If you are in Berlin in August, make sure to check out the exhibition “Lina Bo Bardi: Together” at The Deutsche Architecture Zentrum, dedicated to the legacy of the famed Italian-born Brazilian architect, and focusing on her “capacity to engage with every facet of culture and to see the potential in all manner of people.” More on the exhibition after the break.
In a cultural capital like Berlin, where ‘pop-up’ stores appear in abandoned warehouses, local brands emerge from stores over-run with squatters, and nightclubs rave in power plants, it is only appropriate that an art gallery would find its home in a nearly indestructible concrete vessel. Such is the case with the “Berlin Bunker” in the heart of the fashionable “Mitte” district.
Monolithic and symmetrical, decorated only by thin strips of vertical windows on its four identical facades, this former Nazi air-raid shelter stands as a relic of Germany’s past. Yet a closer look beyond its sharp-edged cornice reveals something unexpected: luscious green gardens and a luxurious penthouse, completed in 2007. This is the home of Christian Boros, the art collector whose private collection is stored and exhibited in the depths of the fortified bunker below.
Studio PEZ along with Zarhy Architects have won the international competition to design the District Courthouse Complex in Jerusalem, Israel. The new 40,000 sqm complex, which will contain all court facilities (aside from the supreme court), will act as a “new landmark in Jerusalem," according to Daniel Zarhy and Pedro Peña Jurado of Studio PEZ.
Their winning proposal - "City of Justice" - was praised by the jury for being "alive, interesting, and [...] designed with much attention to detail." By re-interpreting the courthouse typology and dividing the program into different masses, the architects not only avoided a monolithic appearance and achieved a human scale, but also allowed for phase-by-phase project execution, an aspect which was favoured by the jury.
The District Courthouse is a part of a current construction boom in the capital, which includes a new high-rise tower by Daniel Libeskind and the National Library by Herzog & De Meuron. More images, drawings, and the architects' description after the break...
Responding to Rem Koolhas’s theme of “Absorbing Modernity," OfficeUS, the US's National Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, launched as an experimental architecture firm with a mission to revisit, rethink and re-evaluate one thousand American architectural projects from the last century. The Giardini Pavilion was transformed by New-York based firm Leong Leong into a multi-functioning and interdisciplinary office, run by the six “partners" who were hand-picked for the job. Assigned with the ongoing task of producing models, drawings, and engaging in workshops and lectures throughout the duration of the Biennale, the partners and their collaborators in Venice and around the world attempt "to construct an agenda for the future production of architecture."
Focused mainly on exported architecture, the projects vary from nuclear plants to US embassies, residential typologies and museums and are lined on the pavilion’s walls within research booklets, available for the use of the partners and the public.
Care to join in? Check out 15 of the projects investigated by OfficeUS, after the break…
Written to accompany the minimal exhibition of the Israeli Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, “The Urburb - Patterns of Contemporary Living” tells the story of the Urburb, a built condition which is neither urban nor suburban, that dominates the contemporary Israeli landscape. Edited by Architect Ori Scialom and Dr. Roy Brand, the book brings together architectural photography and photographs of the installation interspersed amongst theoretical texts and short stories which address the cultural, political, and social aspects of the “Urburban” way of life. Learn more about the book, published by Sternthal Books, here.
Recently voted the UK’s ugliest tower, The Barbican Tower is one of the three residential towers of the Barbican Estate, built between 1965 and 1976 in London. Along with fourteen apartment blocks, the Barbican Estate contains 2014 flats, connected by a labyrinth of floating passageways and landscaped gardens.
MVRDV, in cooperation with the Belgian furniture label Sixinch, have designed a playful furniture series that imagines an antidote to the sprawled, generic urban growth of East Asia's mega-cities. Each of the 77 large cushions in “Vertical Village” - currently on display at Milan's Design Week - take the form of small, densely-packed houses, colorful alternatives to the horizontal, block-like residential buildings that currently dot East Asia's skylines. From the exhibition:
"The Vertical Village - observation of the uncontrolled growth of Asian cities, which has lead to the disappearance of urban villages on a human scale, prompts the designers to develop a livable city model that promotes upward growth: a vertical village composed of small residential nuclei that ensure human relationships and, at the same time, leave room for green areas and gathering places. The installation is composed of 77 large cushions in the form of small houses, all different.”
Neither urban nor suburban, the Urburb is a fragmented mosaic of one hundred years of modernist planning in Israel: early twentieth century garden-cities, mid-century social housing and generic, high-rise residential typologies of the past two decades. These residential mutations dominate the contemporary Israeli landscape, expanding and replacing existing textures, in an endless, repetitive cycle.
Known for his superior design and unparalleled craftsmanship, the 2009 Pritzker Laureate and 2013 RIBA Gold Medal Award winner, Peter Zumthor, was recently invited to speak at the School of Architecture in Tel Aviv University. In a lecture titled “Presence in Architecture - Seven Personal Observations,” Zumthor shared some of the inspirations behind his greatest projects, giving us insight into his poetic, intelligent, (and some might say) “nearly divine” mind.
Zumthor’s Seven Points on “Presence,” after the break...
Pritzker Laureate Richard Meier’s iconic new residential tower in the heart of Tel Aviv is nearing completion. Located in Rothschild Boulevard, the city’s bustling high-end commercial, cultural and financial district, it is no surprise that over 70% of the 42-story luxury tower has already been sold.
More on the tower, and its potentially controversial context, after the break...
UPDATE: Following ongoing discussions, the city of London and the Chinese ZhongRong Group have finally unveiled plans for the Crystal Palace replica, announcing a competition to find the “the best not the biggest” architects to take on the project.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: "Paxton's stunning Crystal Palace was a beacon of innovation in the 19th century, encapsulating a spirit of invention which was to shape London and the world for generations to come. Since the iconic building was destroyed, the conundrum of what to do with the crumbling site has not been successfully resolved.” Until now.
Check out renderings and more information, after the break…
In 1961, Fidel Castro said: “Cuba will count as having the most beautiful academy of arts in the world." The Cuban National Schools of Arts, originally imagined by Castro and Che Guevara, are perhaps the largest architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. The innovative design of the schools, which aimed to bring cultural literacy to the nation, encapsulated the radical, utopian vision of the Revolution.
Unfortunately, the nation’s idealistic enthusiasm lasted for a fleeting moment in time and the Schools quickly fell out of favor; they were left to decay before even being completed. Today, following nearly four decades of neglect, the architects have returned to try and bring these derelict schools back to their intended glory.