When we evaluate the work of architects and other designers, we often treat it as if the design was created in a vacuum. It's easy to forget that the vast majority of designs emerge from a collaboration between the designer and their client, and when it comes to the design's success the input of the client can often be as important as the work of the designer. This creative relationship can be a difficult one to navigate, yet it is usually held together by a single document: the brief.
Released today, this half-hour documentary by director Tom Bassett entitled Brieflytakes a long hard look at the brief, with architects Frank Gehry and David Rockwell, industrial designer Yves Béhar, illustrator and author Maira Kalman, marketing executive John C Jay and creative executive John Boiler all pitching in their experience with creative briefs, and recounting stories where, for better or for worse, the brief had a major effect on their work.
As summer draws to an end and we enter into the last quarter of 2014, we decided to round-up a selection of the most useful articles we've published over the past three years. Ranging from The 40 Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2014 to The 10 Most Overlooked Women in Architectural History, we've also brought together app guides, career tips, and city guides. Alongside links to open-source CAD files and cut-out people, we've also featured book recommendations, study tips, and links to our complete coverage of some of the world's major architectural events and prizes. Delve into our collection and discover what our readers have found most useful!
How can the city be reinvented to save the world? Chinese business magnate Zhang Yue and Finnish professor Eero Paloheimo are two men with very contrasting answers to this loaded question. Zhang Yue's answer puts trust in pre-fabricated, high-density vertical development, whereas Paloheimo envisions a built-from-scratch, clean-tech sprawling utopia. Their grand ideas, met with both skepticism and excitement, are documented in a new film by Anna-Karin Grönroos. To watch the trailer and learn more about the bold proposals, continue after the break.
Twenty years ago, one of the world’s most unusual and unexpected pieces of architecture was razed to the ground: Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City, the most densely populated area on earth. Squalid, dark, and labyrinthine, the informal city was not only a hotbed for organized crime, but also a vibrant community of commerce and hope. Now, the Wall Street Journal has released this short documentary, bringing the city back to life and revealing why it holds a special place in world culture today.
Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray’s Unfinished Spaces has been awarded the 2014 Society of Architectural Historian’s (SAH) Award for Film and Video, an award presented annually to the “most distinguished work of film on the history of the built environment.” Initially released in 2011, the critically acclaimed documentary reveals the turbulent past of Fidel Castro’s Cuba and tells the story of his utopian dream to construct the Cuban National Arts Schools. You can learn more about the film here, and the school’s history, here.
If You Build It is a documentary following the story of high school students in Windsor, a small and downtrodden rural town in Bertie County, North Carolina. In this setting, architects Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller started Project H, an educational initiative designed to not only improve the education of these disadvantaged young people, but also to reach out to the wider community and make real change.
Read on for more about Project H and the If You Build It documentary
In an hour long documentary for PBS, Geoffrey Baer tours the USA in search of the ten buildings that "changed America." From a state capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson to resemble a Roman temple to Henry Ford's factory that first saw the Model T enter production, the film explores the "shocking, funny, and even sad stories of how these buildings were created." Investigating places of worship, shopping malls, concert halls and skyscrapers this film is tipped as "a journey inside the imaginations of the daring architects who set out to change the way we live, work, and play."
Los Angeles-based cinematographer Tomas Koolhaas is nearing completion of his highly anticipated film, REM. The feature length documentary, which focuses on the work of Tomas’ famed father, Rem Koolhaas, is the first architectural film to “comprehensively explore the human conditions in and around Rem Koolhaas' buildings from a ground level perspective.” Rather than lifeless still shots and long-winded, intellectual discourse, REM exposes the one thing that gives each building function and purpose: how it is used by people.
So far, REM has been funded entirely by grants. However, in order for Tomas to collect the necessary funds to complete post-production, he has turned to you by launching a Kickstarter campaign.
Watch REM's official trailer above, which follows a parkour expert as he moves through the Casa De Musica in Porto, and follow us after the break for Tomas’ exclusive interview with Kanye West, who comments on his work with OMA at the 2012 Cannes film festival.
Think traffic is bad now? One billion cars are already on the road today and another billion is expected to join in the coming decade. Pollution and stressful commuting is at an all time high, empowering many politicians and bicycle activists to declare war on the multi-billion dollar car industry which has profoundly impacted city development worldwide.
The New York Times has published “A Short History of the Highrise” - an interactive documentary that explores the 2,500-year global history of vertical living and issues of social equality in an increasingly urbanized world. Organized in four short films - “Mud,” “Concrete,” “Glass,” and “Home” - viewers are given the option to "dig deeper" into each subject and explore additional archival material while viewing the film. Check out the film here.
Each year, Joshua Foer, author of the bestseller Moonwalking with Einstein, would celebrate sukkot (a traditional Jewish holiday) with his family by building a sukkah, a small temporary shelter that acts as a reminder of the Jews' plight after being expelled from Egypt. Years later, he co-founded a competition to challenge architects to consider the holiday from a designer's point of view. Sukkah City, a documentary on the competition, follows a couple projects through their inspiration and construction. Read more about it here.
In his three-part documentary series, composed of the films Helvetica, Objectified and Urbanized, Gary Hustwit explored the effect that design has on our everyday life. However, in the process of making these documentaries, he only used about 3% of the interview footage he collected. Now he has launched a kickstarter campaign to fund a book that will make his 100 hours of interview footage available in its entirety. Click here to back his project and make this book a reality.
Derived from 40 years of research by architect, professor and author Jan Gehl, The Human Scale takes a critical look at the way we build and use our cities. Assumptions about modernity are questioned, as director Andreas M. Dalsgaard urges the viewer to imagine what would happen when we put “people into the center of our equations”.
Architects and students worldwide are highly anticipating the Monday premiere of Archiculture - a documentary that offers a unique glimpse into the world of studio-based, design education through the eyes of five architecture students finishing their final design projects at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. The film, directed and produced by two architect-turned-filmmakers Ian Harris and David Krantz of Arbuckle Industries, features exclusive interviews with leading professionals, historians and educators to help create a crucial dialog around the key issues faced by this unique teaching methodology.
Eager to learn more, we sat down with director Ian Harris for an exclusive interview. Read the interview and share your thoughts after the break.
Madrid-based architect Angel Borrego Cubero of Office for Strategic Spaces (OSS) has directed and produced the first documentary focused on the tense process that characterizes an architectural competition. Appropriately titled The Competition, the film captures a fascinating account on how five world renowned architects - Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Dominique Perrault, Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster - “toil, struggle and strategize to beat the competition.” The premise is based on a nearly forgotten, 2008 competition for a new National Museum of Art of Andorra, a small Pyrenees country nestled between Spain and France, which has yet to be realized.
The Competition is expected to debut in late 2013. Updates will be available on OSS’s website and facebook.
After years of production, the documentary film Archiculture is set to premiere at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival, which will commence on April 25th. Highlighting a group of students amidst their final design projects, the film illustrates the strengths and perils of architectural education. Shigeru Ban, Thom Mayne, Ken Frampton and Phil Bernstein are some of the leading architects, educators and historians that will be featured in the film and offering insightful criticism about studio-based, design education as it exists today.
Check out the trailer above and continue after the break for more information.