In the last few weeks, a number of reactionary architectural commentators have come out of the woodwork to denounce what they see as the currently negative direction of contemporary architecture. They claim that architecture needs to be “rebuilt” or that it is “imploding.” From their indications, architecture is on life-support, taking its last breath. The critique they offer is that contemporary architecture has become (or always was?) insensitive to users, to site conditions, to history—hardly a novel view. Every few years, this kind of frontal assault on the value of contemporary architecture is launched, but the criticisms this time seem especially shallow and misplaced. Surveying the contemporary global architecture scene, I actually feel that we’re in a surprisingly healthy place, if you look beyond the obvious showpieces. We’ve escaped from the overt dogmas of the past, we’ve renewed our focus on issues of the environment and social agency, we’re more concerned than ever with tectonics and how to build with quality. But the perennial critics of contemporary architecture appear not to have examined that deeply, nor that thoughtfully either. And unfortunately the various rebuttals to their critiques, ostensibly in support of modern and experimental architecture, have been ham-handed and poorly argued.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has announced the four projects shortlisted for the 2017 Moriyama RAIC International Prize. The prize was established in 2014 by Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama along with RAIC and the RAIC Foundation to recognise buildings that are judged to be " transformative within its societal context and reflect Moriyama's conviction that great architecture transforms society by promoting social justice and humanistic values of respect and inclusiveness."
"These projects celebrate human life and shape activity," commented RAIC President Ewa Bieniecka, FIRAC. "They embody innovation, contribute to how we experience space, and explore how spaces allow opportunities for freedom. The four shortlisted projects demonstrate how architecture is generous and gives back to the community. These works have a strong sense of place and connect to their surrounding landscape."
Awarded every two years, the winning project will receive a CAD $100,000 prize and a handcrafted sculpture by Canadian designer Wei Yew. The prize is open to all architects, irrespective of nationality and location. The inaugural prize was won by Chinese architect Li Xiaodong for his design of the Liyuan Library in Jiaojiehe, China.
See the shortlisted projects, after the break.
40 Projects Shortlisted for the 2017 EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies Van Der Rohe Award
The European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation have announced the 40 shortlisted works that will compete for the 2017 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. The jury has chosen from 355 nominated works and the shortlist highlights the opportunities and the trends of today’s European territory: cities, housing, heritage, and memory. The five finalists will be announced in mid-February and the winner and the Emerging Architect in mid-May.
A third of the works tackle the challenge of contemporary architecture in relation with built heritage and a third of the work tackles the contemporary challenges of housing. The management of the historic urban landscape will be among the priorities highlighted by the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage' in 2018.
"I would want the shortlisted schemes to demonstrate an interest in making places, in exploring convention and known typologies, in celebrating the pleasures of everyday use by a consideration of detail and an unspoken resistance to the current global tendency towards a self-referential architecture, one that belies context and the act of inhabitation." - Stephen Bates, Chairman of the Jury.
Seen the shortlist after the break.
In recent years, the ever-increasing profile of Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG have been hard to miss. For an office that is barely 10 years old, the number and scope of their projects is astonishing; to cope with demand, the firm has grown to employ almost 300 people. This growth, though, did not happen by accident. In this article, originally published on DesignIntelligence as "The Secret to BIG Success," Bob Fisher speaks to the firm's CEO and Partner Sheela Maini Søgaard in order to uncover the business plan behind the BIG phenomenon.
BIG may be the most appropriately named firm on the planet.
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) seems to have an outsized impact in all it does. The Copenhagen-based design firm turns conventions and assumptions upside down and combines contrasting possibilities in outrageously bold, imaginative and playful ways. Projects like Via at West 57th Street in New York City and the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen are prime examples: the first a pyramid-shaped apartment building that defies the forest of rectangular towers around it, and the second a power plant that doubles as a smoke ring-blowing ski slope.
The world has taken note. Whether in praise or criticism, the architectural, cultural and business media tend to strike a heroic tone when describing the firm’s work: radical, ambitious, bold, confident. In short…BIG.
To promote the role that architecture and design plays in addressing ongoing obesity and chronic disease issues around the world, the Center for Active Design launched their first ever design excellence awards. Seven projects have been selected to recieve the inaugural prize for their ability to encourage physical activity and active use of space. Check out each of the award winning designs, after the break...
To celebrate our birthday today, we decided to take a look back at the most popular projects of the last six years. Who takes the top spot? Zaha Hadid? Frank Gehry? Well, you may be surprised...
See our 20 most popular projects of all time, after the break...