The winner of the Wolf Prize in 2005 and the Pritzker of 2008, French architect Jean Nouvel has attempted to design each of his projects without any preconceived notions. The result is a variety of projects that, while strikingly different, always demonstrate a delicate play with light and shadow as well as a harmonious balance with their surroundings. It was this diverse approach that led the Pritzker Prize Jury in their citation to characterize Nouvel as primarily "courageous" in his "pursuit of new ideas and his challenge of accepted norms in order to stretch the boundaries of the field."
I've been ArchDaily's Managing Editor since July 2014, after starting as an ArchDaily intern and spending around 18 months climbing the ladder. I have a BA in Architecture from Newcastle University, and I am particularly interested in how overlooked elements of architectural culture - from the media, to competitions to procurement processes - can alter the designs we end up with.
In this video from NOWNESS, an excerpt from Yuri Ancarani's documentary "Il Capo" (The Chief), the filmmaker captures the mesmerizing business of Marble extraction in the hills of Northwest Italy. The prized delicacy of the Carrara stone's surface is juxtaposed against the dramatic size and weight of the blocks they are removing, which eventually fall with an earth-shattering thud. Similarly the rugged power of the excavators is in marked contrast to the precise, understated gestures of the chief himself, who directs his workers with a complex series of predetermined hand signals.
"Marble quarries are places so unbelievable and striking, they almost feel like they are big theaters or sets," explains Yuri Ancarani. "I was so taken by the chief, watching him work. How he can move gigantic marble blocks using enormous excavators, but his own movements are light, precise and determined."
This article was originally published on February 25, 2015.
In many ways, architectural models are strange objects. On one hand, like drawings, models are a representation of something else—a building—that might exist already but in most cases is so far only hypothetical. On the other hand, they are miniature constructions in themselves, which can be appreciated for their craftsmanship and intricacy. Perhaps this is why architects find models so fascinating; they can be simultaneously admired as an object in themselves and as a vision of something greater.
Earlier this year, we asked our readers to send us images of their most impressive models, and the response clearly showed this fascination. We received photographs of a wide variety of models, from sensible and meticulously constructed miniatures to jaw-dropping expressive outbursts. From over 300 entries, we've narrowed down our readers' submissions to just 21 of the most awe-inspiring examples, splitting them into 5 categories to reflect the incredible range of ways that people have made their models worth looking at.
As one of the leading architects of the British High-Tech movement, Pritzker Prize-winner Richard Rogers stands out as one of the most innovative and distinctive architects of a generation. Rogers made his name in the 1970s and '80s, with buildings such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Headquarters for Lloyd's Bank in London. To this day his work plays with similar motifs, utilizing bright colors and structural elements to create a style that is recognizable, yet also highly adaptable.
One of the most highly regarded architects of his generation, Portugese architect Álvaro Siza (born 25 June 1933) is known for his sculptural works that have been described as "poetic modernism." When he was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1992, Siza was credited as being a successor of early modernists: the jury citation describes how "his shapes, molded by light, have a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest."
Through their pioneering theory and provocative built work, husband and wife duo Robert Venturi (born June 25, 1925) and Denise Scott Brown (born October 3, 1931) were at the forefront of the postmodern movement, leading the charge in one of the most significant shifts in architecture of the 20th century by publishing seminal books such as Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (authored by Robert Venturi alone) and Learning from Las Vegas (co-authored by Venturi, Scott Brown and Steven Izenour).
When Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) graduated from the Barcelona Architecture School in 1878, the director of the school Elies Rogent reportedly declared: "Gentlemen, we are here today either in the presence of a genius or a madman!"  Well over a century later, this tension is still evident in Gaudí's work; though he is widely regarded as a genius architect, his distinctive style stands as a singularity in architectural history—simultaneously awe-inspiring and bizarre, never fitting into any stylistic movement, and never adapted or emulated, except by those still working to complete his magnum opus, Barcelona's famous Sagrada Família.
Benedetta Tagliabue (born 24 June 1963) is an Italian architect known for designs which are sensitive to their context and yet still experimental in their approach to forms and materials. Her diverse and complex works have marked her Barcelona-based firm EMBT as one of the most respected Spanish practices of the 21st century.
In 1991, the American Institute of Architects called him, quite simply, “the greatest American architect of all time.” Over his lifetime, Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) completed more than 500 architectural works; many of them are considered masterpieces. Thanks to the wide dissemination of his designs and his many years spent teaching at the school he founded, few architects in history can claim to have inspired more young people into joining the architecture profession.
One of the most enigmatic and underappreciated architects of the 20th century, Carlo Scarpa (June 2, 1906 – November 28, 1978) is best known for his instinctive approach to materials, combining time-honored crafts with modern manufacturing processes. In a 1996 documentary directed by Murray Grigor, Egle Trincanato, the President of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia for whom Scarpa renovated a Venetian palace in 1963, described how "above all, he was exceptionally skillful in knowing how to combine a base material with a precious one."
Arguably the leading name of a generation of internationally high-profile British architects, Norman Foster (born 1 June 1935)—or to give him his full title Norman Robert Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank of Reddish, OM, HonFREng—gained recognition as early as the 1970s as a key architect in the high-tech movement, which continues to have a profound impact on architecture as we know it today.
As one of the leading architects of Japan's increasingly highly-regarded architecture culture, 2013 Pritzker Laureate Toyo Ito (born June 1, 1941) has defined his career by combining elements of minimalism with an embrace of technology, in a way that merges both traditional and contemporary elements of Japanese culture.
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."
Led by Jacques Herzog (born 19 April 1950) and Pierre de Meuron (born 8 May 1950), most descriptions of Herzog & de Meuron projects are almost paradoxical: in one paragraph they will be praised for their dedication to tradition and vernacular forms, in the next for their thoroughly modern innovation. However, in the hands of Herzog & de Meuron this is no paradox, as the internationally renowned architectural duo combine tradition and innovation in such a way that the two elements actually enhance each other.
Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei (born April 26, 1917), is arguably the greatest living member of the modernist generation of architects. When he received his Pritzker Prize in 1983, the jury citation stated that he "has given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms."
If asked to name buildings by German architect and designer Peter Behrens (14 April 1868 – 27 February 1940), few people would be able to answer with anything other than his AEG Turbine Factory in Berlin. His style was not one that lends itself easily to canonization; indeed, even the Turbine Factory itself is difficult to appreciate without an understanding of its historical context. Despite this, Behrens' achievements are not to be underestimated, and his importance to the development of architecture might best be understood by looking at three young architects who worked in his studio around 1910: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius.
Kisho Kurokawa (April 8th 1934 – October 12th 2007) was one of Japan's leading architects of the 20th century, perhaps most well-known as one of the founders of the Metabolist movement of the 1960s. Throughout the course of his career, Kurokawa advocated a philosophical approach to understanding architecture that was manifest in his completed projects throughout his life.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (27 March 1886 – 17 August 1969) is one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, known for his role in the development of the most enduring architectural style of the era: modernism. Born in Aachen, Germany, Mies' career began in the influential studio of Peter Behrens, where Mies worked alongside other two other titans of modernism, Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. For almost a century, Mies' minimalist style has proved very popular; his famous aphorism "less is more" is still widely used, even by those who are unaware of its origins.