On a prominent, highly visible site within Harvard University’s Allston Campus, a celebration of the beauty of infrastructure is beginning to take shape. Designed by Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates, the 58,000 square foot Allston Campus District Energy Facility (DEF) represents a new, highly efficient infrastructure typology, delivering electricity and water for the campus, whilst simultaneously showcasing the intricate complexity of engineering and design.
LocationCambridge, United Kingdom
Borders shape and consolidate relations between states, people, jurisdictions, political entities, and territories. While some borders are stable, others are in a constant flow. The demarcation of borders is a body politic. It regulates economic relations and people’s access to places, resources, and rights. Borders are powerful instruments that determine the way our surroundings are organized, inhabited and controlled, and the ways communities relate to one another—while some break through borders to survive, others fence themselves off.
The competition, which launched in June, focuses on the 130-mile corridor connecting Cambridge, Milton Keyes, Northampton, and Oxford. It acknowledges the presence of world-leading universities, highly skilled workers and tech firms, but also the corridor’s failure to function as a connected economic zone.
The National Infrastructure Commission and Malcolm Reading Consultants have announced the shortlist for The Cambridge to Oxford Connection: Ideas Competition. The free-to-enter competition focuses on integrating placemaking with infrastructure in one of the UK’s leading growth regions: 130-mile Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor. The region is home to 3.3 million people and hosts some of the country’s most successful cities, as well as the world-leading Oxbridge universities. Launched in June 2017, the first stage encouraged entries from teams with a range of backgrounds - made up of urban designers; architects; landscape designers, planners and community specialists (to name a few).
As a point of entry and exit, a threshold has a dual coding in society as both a physical and symbolic marker of separation and connection. Thresholds are often explicitly hard-edged or even brutal in their expression, demarcating rigid boundaries, as in the definitive lines of walls, barricades, and security checkpoints in buildings, around cities, or across larger territories. Too often, thresholds also divide human activity or communities according to social, ethnic, national, or economic characteristics. Architecture and planning can unwittingly contribute to these different forms of physical separation, especially in ways made visible through their practitioners’ interpretations of culture, religion, or legislation. As the academic disciplines that inform spatial practices, architecture and planning are themselves often similarly separated by disciplinary thresholds, inhibiting porosity between fields of research. By definition, an individual discipline necessarily is organized around a self-referential center of discursive production, but this often happens at the expense of the richness found at the intersection of multiple disciplinary perspectives. Is architecture, in its compulsive drive to create the autonomous object, inherently hardening the thresholds separating it from other disciplines and, by extension, reproducing those schisms within the built environment? Can architecture and planning intentionally construct soft thresholds―lines that are easily traversed, even temporarily erased―thereby allowing for multiple perspectives across different modes of research and practice and catalyzing disciplinary and social connections? What, then, is the physical expression of a soft threshold―a space that is visually and physically porous, plural in spirit, encompassing of its context, and yet rigorous in its expression?
A new train station in Cambridge is getting a lot of attention from a surprising audience: mathematicians. Cambridge North Station is clad in aluminum panels with a geometrical cutout design. The architecture firm, Atkins, originally claimed that the pattern was derived from Cambridge alumnus John Conway’s “Game of Life,” but eagle-eyed mathematicians soon realized that was incorrect. As the above video points out, the design is in fact based on a mathematical rule studied by Stephen Wolfram, an Oxford alumnus, much to the dismay of rival university Cambridge. Though the firm’s website still references Conway, a Senior Architectural Designer at Atkins, Quintin Doyle, has since confirmed that it was, in fact, Wolfram’s Rule 30 that they used in the design.
The Herzog & de Meuron-designed global corporate headquarters for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has topped out in Cambridge, UK, as the building pushes forward to a series of opening dates beginning in 2018. Developed alongside AstraZeneca researchers and executive architect/lead consultant BDP, the scheme consists of a ring-shaped volume containing a series of open laboratories and transparent glass walls intended to foster the company’s principle of collaboration across disciplines.
Thresholds 46: SCATTER!
Editors: Anne Graziano and Eliyahu Keller
From treatises to TED talks; postcards to propaganda; etchings to drawings, films, and blogs, architecture moves in diverse and curious ways. It is these currencies, which give architecture its agency, its authority and life. And yet, despite the varied modes of its circulation, the majority of architecture’s discursive knowledge reaches only a familiar audience. While contemporary means of information production and dispersal continue to exponentially grow and quicken, the circle of professional and discursive associations remains confined. Circulation, distribution, and access to knowledge are not exclusive matters of the discipline. Rather they extend past architectural limits to catalyze inquiries into hidden geographies and infrastructure, restricted access, and equity.
This 90-minute tour, co-sponsored by the BSA Foundation, hosted by Charles Riverboat Company, and led by Boston By Foot guides offers spectacular views of historic and contemporary Boston architecture while providing fascinating information about many renowned architectural landmarks, including the Hancock Tower, Marriott’s Custom House, and Rowes Wharf, as well as cutting-edge contemporary buildings by today’s top architects.
In honor of the centenary of MIT's move to the Cambridge Campus, the university has carried out a series of public events this spring, including the installation of two innovative architecture and design projects: Memory Matrix and Biaxial Tower.
Installed in the iconic arch of MIT’s Wiesner Building (designed by Pritzker Prize winner and MIT alumni I.M. Pei), Memory Matrix is a giant screen made of intricate pixel-like Plexiglass elements, arranged to form larger matrix-like screens that reveal an image of the recently destroyed Arch of Triumph in Palmyra. The image is only visible during the day through the movement of wind and light, and at night, through the illumination of the pixels. Spearheaded by Azra Aksamija, Memory Matrix will be on display from April 23 through May 7.
RDH Architects has unveiled the plans for its Old Post Office Idea Exchange, a restoration project in Cambridge, Canada. The post office project will completely restore the existing historic building and transform it into a new space through the use of new glass additions that will increase usable space and improve accessibility.
Platform 8 catalogs a curated selection of work generated in the past year at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Alongside final products of design education, Platform 8 places particular emphasis on collecting and documenting the people and artifacts that shape research-driven design practices. Here, design is presented both as process and as a final product. Indexical structure, punctuated with a collection of portraits, presents a comprehensive picture of the school. Platform 8 shows the intention, direction, and passion seen and experienced every day at the GSD.
As part of the Cambridge Science Festival, discover the art and science of architecture and city planning. Find out what Boston might look like in 2030, and imagine new modes of transportation and vibrant places for “live, work, and play”! Explore how architects and urban planners apply notions of sustainability, transportation, housing, parks, and open space in their work, and share your thoughts on how to make the city more beautiful, resilient, and equitable. Lastly, bring your own fantastic ideas to life using LEGO® bricks, and present them to your design buddies.
This two-day symposium is co-sponsored with the MIT 2016 Committee and the MIT Department of Architecture. It will examine architecture and cultures at MIT and their influences on education and student life on campus. Speakers, including David Adjaye and Hashim Sarkis, will explore the prescient design of the original buildings and the interdisciplinary, innovative research that they fomented, as well as imagine the teaching and maker spaces of the future.
LocationCambridge, MA, USA
'Next year sees the opening of Habitat III, the environmental congress held every twenty years by the United Nations. For this event, a manifesto is being prepared about the design of cities. It aims to replace the guidance given by Le Corbusier and others nearly a century ago, in document they called "The Charter of Athens." The new Charter of Athens addresses issues emerging in the 21st Century about environmental crises, the uses of technology and big data, and the challenge of social inclusion. The lecture serves as an introduction to this modest proposal.'
Set within the wider framework of “Living Anatomy: an Exhibition about Housing,” currently on view at Harvard Graduate School of Design, this exhibition focuses on ‘Robin Hood Gardens’ - Alison and Peter Smithson’s housing project in East London, completed in 1972. Threatened with demolition yet again, despite an ongoing campaign that still hopes to secure its preservation, Robin Hood Gardens stands today with broken windows, vandalized corridors, crippling facades, and a fractured public reputation. While deteriorating with neglect barely 50 years after its completion, this project’s architecture is still striking in its sense of livelihood and innovation.