The city of Amsterdam is popular for its compelling architecture, interlaced water canals, bridges, and docks. However, alongside these water canals lay old guard cabins that have been left to defunct. A restoration project by Dutch architecture firm space&matter promises to bring together the historic city's tourists and water canals through a unique architecture project.
Metropolis Magazine: The Latest Architecture and News
Anna Saint Pierre's Granito project is harvesting the ingredients for new architectural building blocks from demolished structures.
Rapid urban change comes and goes without many even noticing it. Entire slices of a city’s history disappear overnight: What was once a wall of hewn stone is now fritted glass and buffed metal. The building site is always, first, a demolition site.
This is the thread that runs through Granito, a project by the young French designer and doctoral researcher Anna Saint Pierre. Developed in response to a late-20th-century Paris office block due for a major retrofit, one involving disassembly, it hinges on a method of material preservation Saint Pierre calls “in situ recycling.” Her proposal posits that harvesting the individual granite panels of the building’s somber gray facade could form the basis of a circular economy. “No longer in fashion,” this glum stone—all 182 tons of it—would be dislodged, pulverized, and sorted on-site, then incorporated into terrazzo flooring in the building update.
Design trends are often the result of foreign cultural influences, avant-garde creations, and innovative solutions for people's ever-evolving needs. Although the design world seems like one big mood board, some cities have managed to outshine the rest with their recent projects.
As part of their annual Design Cities Listing, Metropolis Magazine has highlighted 10 cities across 5 continents with intriguing projects that have harmonized contemporary urbanism with traditional and faraway influences.
Griffin founded the consultancy Urban Planning for the American City, which she complements with her pedagogical work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Since its emergence with the cultural turn in the 1970s and ’80s, spatial justice has become a rallying cry among activists, planners, and plugged-in architects. But as with many concepts with academic origins, its precepts often remain elusive and uninterrogated. Though some of this has changed with the advent of city- and place-making discourse, few are doing as much to lend articulation, nuance, and malleability to spatial justice as Toni Griffin. A Chicago native, Griffin practiced architecture at SOM for nearly a decade before leaving the city to work as a planner in Newark and Washington, D.C., among other municipalities. In 2009, she founded the consultancy Urban Planning for the American City, which she complements with her pedagogical work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. There, she runs the Just City Lab, which, through research and a host of programs, aims to develop, disseminate, and evaluate tools for enhancing justice—and remediating chronic, systematized injustice—in America’s cities. But what form could justice take in the U.S. context, and how can architects and designers help? Metropolis spoke with Griffin about how focusing on inclusivity and embracing interdependence and complexity are parts of the answer.
‘T’ Space’s New Exhibit Celebrates the Overlooked History of an Influential Female Architect and Educator
Architect and educator Astra Zarina wasn’t just the teacher of Tom Kundig, Ed Weinstein, and Steven Holl (who designed ‘T’ Space); she was also an advocator for public spaces, cohesive urbanity, and the communities that these attributes fostered. ‘T’ Space’s newest exhibit Rome and the Teacher, Astra Zarina celebrates Zarina’s life and teachings in the context of recognizing overlooked pedagogical figures, particularly women. A recent article by Metropolis Magazine describes this exhibit in detail and with it, Zarina’s own life story.
The Southbank Centre's famous Undercroft was a global destination for skateboarders, though it was threatened by closure and decay.
On the morning of Saturday, July 20, a wall of temporary construction fencing on the south bank of the River Thames was torn down, unveiling a 4,300-square-foot landscape of virgin concrete flooring. The space slopes in sections, culminating in L-shaped barriers and a white plywood wall, which, by the end of the 20th century, was covered in triumphant graffiti. This is the Undercroft, the open-ended subterranean space of the Brutalist Southbank Centre. It’s also the oldest, and among the most famous, consistently skateboarded space in the world.
Though born in Tehran and remaining deeply inspired by her native Iran, architect Yasaman Esmaili has worked on projects all around the world. These primarily include humanitarian and crisis intervention works that deeply engage the local communities in which they are situated. A recent article by Metropolis Magazine discusses these projects in depth, as well as Esmaili’s story and inspirations.
Olson Kundig is one of the quintessential Seattle-based architectural practices, with a focus on creativity, experimentation, and craftsmanship that has allowed them to expand on a global scale over the past few decades. This expansion has necessitated office improvements and renovations throughout the years, the most recent of which occurred in 2018. As explored in a recent article by Metropolis Magazine, this 2018 expansion reflected key values of collaboration and flexibility, expressed through the firm's unique visual and kinetic language.
Fifty years have passed since the publication of influential landscape architect Ian McHarg’s book, Design With Nature in 1969. Throughout the United States, an environmental movement was taking place, into the center of which McHarg’s book was thrust. The 1970s and ‘80s were a time of much landmark legislation surrounding ecological concerns, and McHarg argued that landscape architecture alone was able to integrate all the disparate fields involved.
A team composed of international and local studios and individuals—Agence Ter, rootoftwo, Akoaki, and Harley Etienne—was recently chosen to revitalize the 83-acre area.
Over the course of the 20th century, across a series of administrations and economic contexts, Midtown Detroit grew into one of America’s largest (or densest) cultural districts, with over 12 major institutions, such as the Detroit Institute for the Arts (DIA) and the College for Creative Studies. But you wouldn’t know it, even if you were there—the nine-block, 83-acre area is a mish-mash of styles spanning Beaux Arts, Modernism, and Brutalism, and has a certain sense of placelessness. The area feels architecturally disjointed, illegible, and fails to translate the vibrancy of each institution into the broader public space.
While the United States’ green-building industry was still relatively slow in the early 1990’s, Herman Miller, who are known for their architectural experimentation, decided to construct a new facility for Simple, Quick, Affordable (SQA), a company that bought used office furniture to refurbish them and sell them to smaller businesses. To do so, they chose to build sustainably, a design approach that was not yet utilized in the region.
Designed by New York architect William McDonough, the 295,000 sq ft building (approx. 90,000 sqm) was built in Holland, Michigan in 1995. The facility’s design qualities, such as storm-water management, air-filtering systems, and 66 skylights, helped set the standards for the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certification.
As a firm which has already won major awards, worked on culturally significant projects on a large scale, and generally achieved substantial success and recognition in just over 10 years, SO-IL seem to straddle a line between being an “emerging” and an “established” practice. Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu founded SO-IL (Solid Objectives-Idenburg Liu) in 2008 and have since gained a reputation for modern, clean-lined designs, but often with a unique material twist.
The Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI) and Keeping It Modern grant are dedicated to supporting new methods and technologies for the conservation of Modernist buildings.
Although The Architecture of Happiness did not gain momentum after its publication in the mid-2000s, the ideology of architecture and well-being has remained a topic of intrigue until today. To further explore this ideology, the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), with the curation of Francesco Garutti, have put together an exhibition that explores how the “happiness industry” has controlled every aspect of contemporary life after the 2008 financial crash.
Our Happy Life, Architecture and Well-being in the Age of Emotional Capitalism is a non-archival show that exhibits work from architects, artists, and photographers. Metropolis’ Samuel Medina spoke to Garutti to discuss the notion behind the exhibition, social media, and architecture’s new spaces of meaning.