Architects are often bound by the will of their client, reluctantly sacrificing and compromising design choices in order to suit their needs. But what happens when architects become their own clients? When architects design for themselves, they have the potential to test their ideas freely, explore without creative restriction, and create spaces which wholly define who they are, how they design, and what they stand for. From iconic architect houses like the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica to private houses that double as a public-entry museum, here are 9 fascinating examples of how architects design when they only have themselves to answer to.
In this video from the Louisiana Museum, Anne Lacaton from the award-winning practice Lacaton & Vassal describes the importance of building upon existing conditions to create new architecture. She shares the firm's approach to architecture, which is to "never withdraw, always add" and their focus on generosity of space, care of the users, and utilization of existing natural resources to create a more affordable architecture.
Lacaton & Vassal have gained worldwide acclaim for their transformative social housing work. They were awarded the Grand Prix national de l'architecture in 2008, the Heinrich Tessenow Medal in 2016, and the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2018, to name a few. Their projects such as the 23 Semi-collective Housing Units in Trignac, France, and Ourcq Jaures Student & Social Housing display a dedication to social responsibility in architecture. In Anne Lacaton's interview, she describes how they mine the richness of existing architecture and the surroundings to create beautiful and affordable designs. Interpreting history as "an addition of layers," she articulates their stance against the idea of tabula rasa and the importance of utilizing the found beauty of existing environments: "We don't see [the existing conditions] as a constraint, we see it as a chance."
Andres Gallardo's ongoing Urban Geometry series captures unique forms, colors, and shadows of modern architecture of various cities. The project is a personal one for Gallardo, as it has been a long-term photo series that has accompanied him throughout his journey in becoming a professional photographer, displaying his development and evolution as he captures the architectural beauty of cities such as Beijing, Helsinki, Seoul, and Copenhagen.
Below is the Copenhagen chapter of the series, a visual poem that allows us to see the city in new ways. Through flowing line and bright bursts of color, Gallardo displays an almost surreal version of the city, where the jagged forms and smooth curves of its modern architecture have replaced human presence.
In the last global survey undertaken by the United Nations in 2005, there were an estimated 100 million people who were homeless around the world and 1.6 billion who lived without adequate housing. This number has escalated in recent years; unaffordable housing has become a global norm, making it increasingly difficult for the disadvantaged to seek out permanent, or even temporary shelter.
As housing becomes a means of accumulating wealth rather than fulfilling its fundamental goal of shelter, well-intentioned architects have attempted to solve the homelessness crisis through creative ideas and innovative design. But is architecture really the solution?
Istanbul-based studio Superspace has proposed a design for Prague’s Victory Square that transforms the dead zone in the middle of Prague into a space flourishing with nature and social activities. The simple but effective solution inverts traffic and pedestrian access to create a green urban center, where markets, art festivals and even wintertime ice-skating can take place. Tall, local evergreen trees would be planted in the horseshoe shape surrounding the inner ring, creating an iconic visual impact while shielding the community space from the noise of the busy traffic area beyond.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the 2018 shortlist for the Stephen Lawrence Prize, an architecture award set up in memory of a young aspiring architect who was tragically murdered in 1993. Supported and founded by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation, the bursary has been increased this year from £5,000 to £25,000 to mark the 25th year since Stephen’s death. The prize is intended to encourage fresh architectural talent and reward the best examples of projects that have a construction budget of less than £1 million.
Stephen Lawrence Prize founder Marco Goldschmied said: “We have once again been astounded by the skill, ingenuity and determination shown in each project. The shortlist ranges from new and converted housing to a moving memorial, from education to hospitality. Each project has produced outstanding architecture fit for such a long-standing award.”
Below are the shortlisted projects:
Space 4 Architecture's (S4A) proposal for a bookstore in Chengdu, China reflects the poetic beauty of floating lilies on water. The architects describe the project as a “permeable cultural container” that allows and encourages visitor interaction with the surrounding landscape. The design consists of a series of indoor and outdoor spaces that weave together a gentle intervention that mirrors and enhances the natural scenery it sits within.
Hungarian architects Paradigma Ariadné push the concepts of progression and growth to a literal spatial extreme in their proposal for a new sport complex for the MTK Football Academy. Drawing inspiration from the diagram of traditional European peasant houses, the design stretches into a kind of visual infinity, stacking all the rooms in the building along a single horizontal axis.
When we think of Istanbul, opulent mosques and bustling bazaars often come to mind. Architect and photographer Yener Torur focuses on a different side of the city, targeting lesser-known neighborhoods to capture stunning images of a hidden, rainbow-colored Turkey.
Often using friends, family, and even himself as models, his photographs create whimsical narratives where color-coordinated figures act as supporting characters in a playful world of tones. Torur describes the search for these buildings as a "treasure hunt," describing his intention to "document a different, less-known part of Istanbul to escape from the one dimensional and orientalist perception."
Graveyards full of names that have long been forgotten, plaques etched with portraits that you ignore on your morning jog, monuments with friezes that depict the triumphs of war—all these are examples of memorial architecture, which once held intense emotional meaning for certain individuals or groups of people, but have now gradually become tourist attractions or anachronistic sites within a changed landscape.
Since the horrors of World War II memorial architecture has changed drastically, from monuments focusing on names, heroes, and patriotism to abstract symbols of mourning and loss. How will this shift in the design of memorials change the way we experience them in the present and, more importantly, in the future? When generations pass away and the memorialized event becomes almost forgotten, how will we experience and remember?
Architecture is often seen as something which provides a place-marker in history, reflecting the zeitgeist of an era. But how do we design architecture in a world that is changing faster than ever before, where entire types of buildings disappear seemingly in a flash? Here, we round up six types of buildings that came into existence in modern times and are fading as fast as they appeared. Mostly banal and previously ubiquitous, the nostalgia associated with the disappearance of these buildings taps into something emotional, rather than intellectual admiration.
Memory and architecture are closely linked, with Juhani Pallasmaa in his book The Eyes of the Skin describing how “the body knows and remembers. Architectural meaning derives from archaic responses and reactions remembered by the body and the senses.” Some of the structures below have become obsolete within half a lifespan—an interesting point to consider in a discipline that has historically valued permanence above all. If structures no longer serve a social function, will they be remembered?
As architects, we often use a niche set of words that are sometimes unnecessarily complex and confusing to our non-architect friends. In 2015 we compiled a list of these, ranging from “typology” to “Blobitecture.” Here we’ve rounded up 50 urban planning terms that might be a bit less familiar but just as important to know.
From weird portmanteaus such as “Boomburb” to cute-sounding acronyms such as "YIMBY", here is a fun A to Z in urban planning language that will make future collaboration easier.
There is something about water that continually captures our imagination. Tranquil, dramatic, or ever-changing, the architecture of public baths and swimming pools can enhance the inherent qualities of water. Bathhouses were traditionally meeting-spaces where social differences bled away into skin and steam. Even in contemporary architectural projects, spaces for swimming and bathing often feel like a separate world, therapeutic and intimate.
Below are 12 projects that display stunning spaces for communal bathing and swimming.
Architect Kris Provoost, who lives and works in Shanghai, has captured Atelier Deshaus' new Shanghai Modern Art Museum through a series of photographs, displaying both the details of the building as well as its context on the Shanghai riverfront. The Shanghai Modern Art Museum is an adaptive re-use project on the old Laobaidu coal bunker, its industrial exterior kept and re-interpreted into a contemporary architectural project. Provoost captured the beautiful detailing of the project, as well as how it transforms during the cherry blossom season.
Contreras Earl Architecture, in collaboration with the Sunland Group, designed a 44-story residential tower in Queensland, Australia. The "Hedges Pedestal," a two-story base and communal areas for residents, was conceived by Contreras Earl Architecture and draws inspiration from the coastal location of the site; its curving exterior façade, which includes a sculptural anodized aluminum, resembles the curves of wind erosion on the sand. Meanwhile, floors 3 through 44 were designed in-house by developer Sunland Group.
The Sharjah Architecture Triennial will open in November 2019 as "the first major platform for dialogue on architecture and urbanism in the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South Asia." Curator Adrian Lahoud has announced the theme of the Triennial as the Rights of Future Generations, aiming to fundamentally challenge traditional ideas about architecture and introduce new ways of thinking that veer from current Western-centric discourse.
Fologram has recently built the world’s first pavilion-scale steel structure using the HoloLens, displaying the possibilities of integrating standard CAD workflow with augmented reality. By displaying the generative design model through holographic instructions rather than traditional 2D drawings, it explores the potential of revolutionizing the bridge between design and construction.
For the 2018 Venice Biennale, Stefano Boeri Architetti presents Slow Food Freespace, the first Slow Village to be constructed in Sichuan, China. Made in collaboration with Slow Food Movement, speakers Stefano Boeri and Carlo Petrini discussed the project at the event “Across Chinese Cities - The Community.”
For the Slow Food China project, Stefano Boeri Architetti has designed a school, a library and a small museum for the villages involved, free of charge. The program attempts to encourage millions of Chinese farmers to stay in their rural districts, combatting the unprecedented emigration to cities which has grown in the last few years. By offering educational facilities and cultural landmarks to these rural communities, it inspires the preservation of local culture and acknowledges the importance of the agricultural economy.