Jack Self

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A Different Kind of Sharing Economy: How the REAL Foundation is Building Social Equity Into the Nuts and Bolts of Architecture

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is the largest platform for contemporary architecture in North America, and the blog invites designers and other contributors to express their perspectives in a range of formats. The 2017 exhibition, entitled Make New History, will be free and open to the public between September 16, 2017 and January 6, 2018.

Courtesy of Real Foundation
Courtesy of Real Foundation

Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB): We want to start by noting that REAL foundation, which stands for "Real Estate Architecture Laboratory," is not a typical design practice. You design spaces, but you also make books, exhibitions, a magazine, and tools for advocacy. Why?

Jack Self (JS): The REAL foundation is an unusual model for an architectural firm. We're a normal architectural practice, but we are governed by a very strict set of conditions that allow us to pursue certain political and economic ideologies. We see the social role of the architect, as well as the structure of the architectural firm, as a subject for design as much as buildings.

The Ingot, a proposal by the REAL Foundation for The Ingot, a gold-plated tower sited next to London Bridge, and designed to house low-paid, precarious workers. Image Courtesy of Real FoundationInterior view of Default Grey, a proposal for a domestic tower that provides inhabitants autonomy from debt and enough anonymity to shield them from surveillance. Image Courtesy of Real FoundationInstallation view of Home Economics, the British Pavilion curated by Jack Self with Finn Williams and Shumi Bose at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Each room in the pavilion addressed a different facet of the contemporary crisis of living. Photo by Cristiano Corte. Image Courtesy of Real FoundationInstallation view of Home Economics, the British Pavilion curated by Jack Self with Finn Williams and Shumi Bose at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Each room in the pavilion addressed a different facet of the contemporary crisis of living. Photo by Cristiano Corte. Image Courtesy of Real Foundation+ 6

Mies van der Rohe's Tower in London That Never Was

In the 1960s James Stirling asked Ludwig Mies van der Rohe why he didn’t design utopian visions for new societies, like those of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City or Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse. Mies replied that he wasn’t interested in fantasies, but only in “making the existing city beautiful.” When Stirling recounted the conversation several decades later it was to the audience of a public enquiry convened in London – he was desperately trying to save Mies’ only UK design from being rejected in planning.

It couldn’t be done: the scheme went unbuilt; the drawings were buried in a private archive. Now, for the first time in more than thirty years, Mies’ Mansion House Square will be presented to the public in both a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)—Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square—and, if it is successful, a book currently being funded through Kickstarter by the REAL foundation.

Vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John DonatInterior vizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John DonatUrban plan. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John DonatVizualisation. Image Courtesy Drawing Matter, REAL foundation. Image © John Donat+ 5

Home Economics: Inside the British Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.

Britain is suffering from a terrible housing crisis – one that is an incredibly predictable outcome of decades of neoliberal economic policy. The Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has become well-known for building “half a house” – only completing core infrastructure in social housing, then encouraging residents to finish the other half with their own money over time. In effect, the first generation get a significantly cheaper home, but once the house has been doubled it could be sold at market rate. The discount, and profit, only applies to the original owners.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu© Laurian Ghinitoiu© Laurian Ghinitoiu© Laurian Ghinitoiu+ 19