Presenting architects in conversation with creative figures, Architecture Foundation’s headline annual lecture in collaboration with the Barbican will see architect Sam Jacob in conversation with Dutch visual artist Madelon Vriesendorp.
Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture project - a joyful, democratically-minded concept to share quality architecture in the UK - was borne out of personal crisis. The Swiss-born philosopher and author gained fame in both popular and architectural circles following the release of his book, "The Architecture of Happiness."
The book was immediately successful (movie buffs may recall its brief cameo in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer), but the response unsettled Botton. “...However pleasing it is two write a book about an issue one feels passionately about," he explained to Assemble Papers, "the truth is that - a few exceptions aside - books don’t change anything. I realized that if I cared so much about architecture, writing was a coward’s way out; the real challenge was to build.”
This essay by the academic and writer Martin Lampprecht responds directly to an opinion piece penned by Sean Griffiths, a former partner of FAT, entitled "now is not the time to be indulging in postmodern revivalism".
Oh my. Where to begin? My first impulse was just to move on and shake my head in wonder, perhaps, that a well-established designer and architectural thinker would wish to publish an article so dyspeptic. It is, after all, a common pattern: the young pranksters of yesteryear, once their hairlines have started to recede, transform into schoolmasters as befitting their recently-acquired academic sinecures. It’s all just part of the normal generational cycle that keeps a culture moving forward. Business as usual.
Is ornament seeing a resurgence in architectural design? Writing for The Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote examines the rising phenomenon of decoration as a growing element of contemporary architectural design. Describing FAT and Grayson Perry's recently completed 'kitsch' abode 'A House for Essex' Heathcote justifies the assimilation of decoration into the central design philosophy, thus creating an entirely new aesthetic category. "The building sits somewhere between outsider art, high culture and the most sophisticated postmodernism," Heathcote explains, adding that its decoration "is not just applied as a layer but subsumed into the architecture."
In an article for The Guardian, Turner Prize winning ceramic artist Grayson Perry has written for the first time about his "plans for a Taj Mahal in Essex." The designs for the House for Essex, which have been realised over the last three years by FAT and led by Charles Holland, are of a "secular chapel" in the heart of the southern English countryside. The building was commissioned by the Living Architecture Project, which is headed by Alain de Botton and are the proprietors of property designed by the likes of Peter Zumthor, MVRDV, and David Kohn. This, their fifth foray into experimental collaborative architecture between architects and artists, is set to open its doors for holiday letting this year.
Earlier this year San Rocco, recipients of the inaugural Icon Award for Emerging Architectural Practice of the Year in 2013, published a limited single-edition run of a new publication: the San Rocco Book of Copies. Within five volumes of 4120 pages lies what they describe as "a database comprised of images that may be copied in order to produce architecture; a receptacle of a collective form of knowledge that we can provisionally call 'architecture'."
A Clockwork Jerusalem, the exhibition showcased in the British Pavilion at last year's Venice Biennale, will make it's UK debut at London's Architectural Association (AA) next month. Commissioned by the British Council and curated by Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT, and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Dutch practice Crimson Architectural Historians, the exhibition shines a light on the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s by exploring the "mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious - but also the moment that witnessed its collapse."
In an interview with Core77 Sam Jacob, formerly of FAT and now principal at Sam Jacob Studio, has "always pursued an idea of design practice as a combination of criticism, research and speculation that all feed directly into the design studio." This approach has allowed his ideas to "cross-fertilize, find connections and directions that make the practice stronger, more agile and able to respond intelligently to the problem at hand." Jacob, who is also a Visiting Professor at Yale and the University of Illinois at Chicago whilst simultaneously director of the Night School at London's Architectural Association, recently saw the end of FAT's final project: the curation of the British Pavilion (alongside Dutch architect and academic Wouter Vanstiphout). In the UK, former partner Charles Holland is bringing a collaborative project with artist Grayson Perry to completion in Essex.
Read more and see some of Jacob's drawings after the break.
Drawings have long been used as a method for architects to represent their projects. However, architects sometimes make drawings to communicate a sense of space in a deeper and more meaningful way - in a manner that begins to venture into the realm of art. A new exhibition opening at London's V&A Museum this Saturday entitled Architects as Artists examines the overlapping relationship between architecture and art, and documents the many ways in which it is used and created.
The scaffolding has come down, revealing the first glimpse of FAT's extraordinary A House For Essex. Designed in collaboration with British ceramic artist Grayson Perry and commissioned by Alain de Botton’s alternative holiday rental project Living Architecture, the house will be the final built work that FAT complete. The bejewelled two bedroom dwelling, topped with a shimmering golden copper alloy roof and clad in glinting green and white tiles, sits in the rolling landscape of Essex - Charles Holland (FAT) and Perry’s home county. Adorned with sculptures integrated into a wider narrative that spatially recounts the life of a fictional character called Julie, the barn-like shape, bold colours and decoration has not simply garnered widespread attention but has also captured people’s curiosity.
Find out more about the project in an interview with the architect after the break.
Sheffield born Alison Gill, later to be known as Alison Smithson, was one half of one of the most influential Brutalist architectural partnerships in history. On the day that she would be celebrating her 86th birthday we take a look at how the impact of her and Peter Smithson's architecture still resonates well into the 21st century, most notably in the British Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale. With London's Robin Hood Gardens, one of their most well known and large scale social housing projects, facing imminent demolition how might their style, hailed by Reyner Banham in 1955 as the "new brutalism", hold the key for future housing projects?
The British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale takes the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and explores the "mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious but also the moment that witnessed its collapse." The exhibition tells the story of how British modernity emerged out of an unlikely combination of interests and how "these modern visions continue to create our physical and imaginative landscapes." To those who know the UK's architectural heritage, this cultural and social history is delivered in a way which feels strangely familiar, whilst uncovering fascinating hidden histories of British modernity that continue to resonate in the 21st century.
We caught up with Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT Architecture (of which this exhibition is their final project), and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Rotterdam-based Crimson Architectural Historians, outside the British Pavilion to discuss the ideas behind, and significance of, A Clockwork Jerusalem.
Curators FAT Architecture and Crimson Architectural Historians have released more details on this year’s British Pavilion for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. Responding to Rem Koolhaas’ theme, "Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014,” A Clockwork Jerusalem will “explore the diverse cultural influences that shaped and were shaped by British Modernism in the post war era and over the last 100 years.”
"A Clockwork Jerusalem will offer the opportunity to explore and rethink fundamental aspects of British modernity, beyond architecture,” described Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design and Fashion at the British Council. “As the Venice Biennale evolves into a global research project, we are keen to make a significant contribution to the cultural debate around the past, present and future of UK and global architecture.”
More from the curators, after the break...
A few hours ago in Venice, Rem Koolhaas presented his curatorial vision for "Fundamentals" in a live-streamed opening press conference. As we reported last year, "Fundamentals" will focus on architecture rather than architects and history rather than contemporaneity. Koolhaas will not just curate an exhibition of his own, but will be coordinating the "collective effort of all national pavilions."
This year's exhibition features the participation of 65 countries--including 11 first-time participants (Azerbaijan, Côte d'Ivoire, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand and Turkey). See the complete list of national participants--which includes collaborations with Jacques Tati, Hans Ulrich Obrist, FAT, Iñaki Ábalos and others--after the break.
Click here to see all of ArchDaily's previous coverage of the 2014 Venice Biennale. And stay tuned... we'll be bringing you on-the-ground reports from Venice when the Biennale launches in the first week of June!
Inspired by the dolls’ house that Edwin Lutyens designed for The British Empire Exhibition in 1922, twenty British practices are each designing a contemporary dolls’ house in aid of the disabled childrens’ charity KIDS. Each version will sit on a 750mm square plinth to be auctioned at Bonham's on the 11th November and contains one feature which would make life easier for a disabled child. Among the participating practices is Zaha Hadid Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. FAT will also be working with Turner Prize recipient Grayson Perry CBE, and Studio Egret West with artist Andrew Logan.
See all the entries after the break...
Inspired by the dolls' house that Edwin Lutyens designed for The British Empire Exhibition in 1922, twenty British practices are each designing a contemporary dolls' house in aid of the disabled childrens' charity KIDS. Each version will sit on a 750mm square plinth to be exhibited during this year's London Design Festival (14th - 21st September, 2013) before being auctioned. Each design must contain "a unique feature to make life easier for a child who is disabled."
FAT Architecture, Crimson Architectural Historians and Owen Hatherley have been selected to curate the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale next June. The chosen team will respond to Rem Koolhaas’ theme “Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014” with a project titled “A Clockwork Jerusalem.”
Vicky Richardson, British Council, said: "We look forward to working with FAT, Crimson and Owen Hatherley on ‘A Clockwork Jerusalem’. The Selection Committee felt their approach was both challenging and poetic, and that their work will make an important contribution to understanding modernity in British architecture."
BD Online reports that the British Council has shortlisted two teams who will compete for the honor of curating the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. With Rem Koolhaas at the helm of this year's Biennale (June 7 - November 23), the selected theme will be: ‘Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014.’