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Tag "architecture"

New manufacturing technologies are tipped to change the world, yet again. Machine based production is since the 18th century a reality and with it has the industrial revolution changed the way products and the making of are consumed.

This has had far reaching impacts way beyond the pure manufacturing process, it did completely change society. All of a sudden thousands pieces of exactly the same making, shape and condition were possible. The product was no longer unique and manufactured by hand, but rolled of the conveyor belt.

Printed building by Enrico Dini
Image taken from printertesting / A large scale 3d printer in tests to print a simple building by Enrico Dini.

Yet again new technologies are set to change again the way products are conceptualised. The process of raw material that is mined, pre worked, turned into parts of the product and finally assembled could potentially be overthrown by the newly developed product printing possibilities.

This new printing process is a technologies that allows 3d objects to be printed from a 3d computer model. At the moment the process is possible only with certain materials: plastics, resins and metals. There is room for development however. Already the technology is accurate to print at a precision of around a tenth of a millimetre.

So far it is being developed and used mainly for models, especially in the design industry from architecture to car and airplane design, but also in the machine industry for parts. The technology has been developed over the past decade and is now moving from being used for prototyping to being used for actual parts. These include medical implants, jewellery, football boots designed for individual feet, lampshades, racing-car parts, solid-state batteries and customised mobile phones. Some are even making mechanical devices.

Peter Schmitt 3D prints fully assembled clock mechanisms
Image taken from Peter Schmitt / Parts of a printed clock developed at MIT.

The big change is really that the work no longer is based on the assembly of parts, but the hope of engeniers and developers is that whole products can be printed in one go. Peter Schmitt at MIT has printed a working grandfather clock in one go. But further more printers are also able to reprint themselves.

They can reproduce and print the parts for another printer. At CASA this project is running as part of the payItForward printing project. One printer is used to print the parts for a next printer and who ever gets this printer is to print the parts for the next one. This is the idea of the RepRap printers. Of course they can then also be used to print all sorts of other stuff.

In the building construction industry printers have been used for a while to print models of project. Frank Gerry Architects are leading here with other design firms such as Coop Himmelb(l)au. Of course here the the aims are as opulent as in the car or airline industry to print a whole building.

There are efforts that can be seen as first steps with machines actually building. At the ETH robots from the manufacturing industry are programmed to lay bricks. It can be seen as a first step in printing. The instructions come directly out of the computer and the robots lay the bricks accordingly.

Gramazio & Kohler
Image taken from Dezen / Gramazio & Kohler from ETH printed a wall for the 2008 Venice Biennale.

This can be extended by using flying robots to build taller structures. With the raise of UAVs and drones, these either remote controlled or even GPS (it probably needs more accuracy) controlled flying robots the assembly of buildings and larger structures can be another option. Terminators are set to build our cities of the future dropping in the pieces or printing them on the go.

Frac Centre Flight Assembled Architecture
Image taken from Frac Centre / A flying robot with its load of a brick, Flight Assembled Architecture.

The architects Gramazio & Kohler are planning a project with flying robots that will assemble a six metre-high tower at the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France, next month using styrofoam bricks.

The revolution as such is underway. It is being publicised here and there, but it takes time and a lot of development. Its not being implemented for tomorrow. At the moment printing is going through a transformation from a geeky lab version to actual production of elements and the next step will be the implementation at a larger scale.

It furthermore should also trigger the discussion around raw materials and the sustainable use thereof. With a number of the technologies the recycling of material becomes a very direct reality with old plastic bottles directly being used as the printing material. The same could become true for metal. Imagine the new building being printed from the recycling of the on site existing structure. With the technology the rebuilding of the city is transformed into a reprinting for itself from itself.

Via BLDGBLOG and via Dezen and via the Economist.

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Iceland is a remote place, being a small island high up north in the Atlantic Ocean is not exactly a place on the high street. The island however, has very distinct characteristics to share and can surprise with unique features.

In terms of architecture Iceland was largely influenced by its history of overseas connections. People and economic ties brought in material, knowledge, styles and trends creating a sort of potpourri of approaches to building.

Hallgrímur, Reykjavik, Iceland
Image take from runawayjane / Hallgrímur, Reykjavik, Iceland. Front entrance faceade Gudjon Samuelsson 1937-86.

A constant of course is the harsh weather and the environmental conditions. In addition the available building materials shaped the early architecture types, the grass- and turf-covered houses as a result of a lack of wood as building material. These earth houses were optimised in terms of isolation and exposure to weather changes, but required a lot of maintenance and rebuilding. at least every two years the unit basically had to be rebuilt. It was to a large extend a living house as such with its shape and extend in constant change.

One of the first to document the Icelandic architecture tradition was Edwin Sacher, who in 1938 wrote his PhD dissertation on the subject. He also was an imported interest, he was a German architectural scholar who promoted the vernacular icelandic architecture. Since these days a lot happened in the Icelandic architecture scene happend and a new Jovis publication looks at how architecture as a discipline and a practice presents itself today.

Since the turf buildings new technologies with prefabrication and then especially concrete found their way quickly into the building practice in Iceland. Also the introduction of stone as a building material. Modernism found its way onto the island together with a number of architects trained abroad after the Second World War.

One of the fascinating aspects today as Kenneth Frampton remarked in 1987, is not so much what is built, but also what could be built. With this especially the landscape in Iceland is moved to the centre of the discussion as it is, beside the weather, the most dramatic condition. The building in connection with the landscape is then also on of the topics the architecture has to live up to an position itself.

Land of Giants Choi+Shine
Image taken from 3.bp / Project by Jin Choi & Thomas Shine of Choi+Shine for a new type of pylons submitted to a competition organised by Icelandic electrical transmission company Landsnet and the Association of Icelandic Architects. The project was titled Land of Giants. See the winning project, which is actually pretty similar in some points HERE at dezen.

The publication presents a brief recap of the history as wel a selection of recent projects. a third large part are interviews where the context of architecture in iceland is discussed. Well actually they are not really interviews but really conversations. In the context of these conversations the projects are discussed and this makes for a very different presentation of the architecture of a place. Its not your usual architecture guide, nor is it a monograph, nor a simple collection. Its really the quest to find the specifics of architecture for a place that has no international identity in the area of architecture.

The format of presentation makes this an interesting exchange between publication and reader in the sense that one feels involved in the conversation and the feeling of discovery amongst it. It transports as the publication accompanying an exhibition on the subject of architecture in Iceland a sense of excitement. The exhibition unfortunately closed this month at the German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt. See HERE for a preview with sample pages of the publication.

Cachola Schmal, P. ed., 2011. Iceland and Architecture?, Berlin: Jovis Verlag.

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Mobile devices have become the first stop shop for news and information. It is, as a platform constantly available and always updated in real time taking the promis of any news to the limit, to actually getting the latest news.

There are different approaches to news delivery on the devices. On one hand there are the news readers and the news curators, apps that allow the reader to brows the news from different sources in an general environment, often offering the option to link to many online sources including social media. This type like Flipboard or Flud are very popular and flexible.

BDapp04
Image by Ralph Barthel for urbanTick / Architect’s news on the iPhone provided by BD.

The second approach on the other hand is for each news provider to launch their individual corporate news app. It is very dedicated and the provider has a complete controle over the way each information reaches the reader.

This second option is being offered by a lot of newspapers. However, most of them can also be integrated with other readers as they offer general webnews that the curator apps can integrate. One of the key factors of course is not only to let readers read and enjoy, but to also let them share. They want to show of what they are reading in order to stay in the game of social media and feed their Twitter, Facebook and so on accounts.

Architecture news so far have mainly been using their blogs to keep news uptodate and allow readers to integrate a feed with their favourite curator app. Things are changing and Architecture News sites also begin to offer their dedicated mobile app for readers to enjoy the freshest and crispiest news in the filed of architecture and planning.

BDapp01b
Image taken from BD iPhone app / Screenshot of the app news section with sharing options.

Building Design (BD), the British architecture news platform, is the first one here in the UK to offer an app for the iPhone. It was launched only this week and provides complete access from your iPhone to all the content on BD. Of course the main fous is on the latest news in various categories.

The initial view is organised in Top Stories, News, Buildings, Opinions and under More you can find the rest. Well the rest contains Competitions, Events, App Showcase (nothing there yet, but presumably this is for architecture related apps) and Jobs. This is actually quite an interesting selection and for the filed will be essential. This is what makes a good architecture news platform, where you get profession related inside information that are practical. Any other building news you can find on the blog sphere in a range of formats and versions.

BDapp02
Image taken from BD iPhone app / Screenshot of the in app photo viewer. With a single tap on the screen the images can be enjoyed full screen text free (bottom right).

The BD app is neat and plain providing the essential options, such as changing the font size and marking an article as a favourite which can be reinterpreted by the users as an I read it later button. It also provides a neat feature to view the article related photos and illustrations in a separate window. This makes the text simpler to read on the small screen and can make use of the full size of the screen for the photos. Its great to see that BD here still keeps the figure description with the photos so that they don’t float uncommented. The second good implementation is the sharing function. Articles can be shared via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter directly, plus the link to the article can be copied and shared otherwise. So there is no excuse not to let your networks now about the discoveries and latest knowledge acquisition, it works great.

It is debatable whether the categories on the start screen are the best choice and it would also be interesting if in article switching would be possible. Currently the app is organised centrally from one screen where the user can generally go in to depth only one step. Other newspaper apps such as the guardian version for the iPad from the Apple Newsstand, the user can flip pages and go through article by article whit out having to go back to the startpage. For illustrations especially plans and drawings it would be nice to be able to zoom in ont he little iPhone screen. In this context of course it would be great to see them articles and the photos on an iPad screen.

What is missing from the app is a search button. There is no way to find something its purely on an I came across it at the top of the list basis, which leaves the reader to be a playball of the refreshing moment. Real time as it turns out has its downside and you can be sure you miss out on a lot of the interesting stuff simply because your a moment to early or too late. Very quickly news are going to be buried under the flood of even latter news and the small iPhone screen is not the place one scrolls for minutes to go through the list of latest news.

BD in this respect has limited the list of news items the app displays to about 25 and offer at the bottom of all them two filters. One being UK and the second being International. However, here the website offers a lot more options, including the search function.

The app does not replace the BD website in this sense, it is a sort of news outpost for the platform to keep the users entertained while they have some time to kill. With the More option however, there are some features that can take you further. And of course it is to mention that the app comes add free, the latest architecture news can be enjoyed uninterrupted by tempting offers for building materials or architecture software.

The app comes at an subscription cost of £1.99 for 7 days (1 week) and £2.99 for 30 days (1 month) just like the web service of BD. However currently the app is offered for a 30 day FREE trial so its best you have a look yourself and try take it for a test scroll. The app can be downloaded from the app Store HERE.

BDonlineWeb
Image taken from BD online / Screenshot of the online web site.

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In recent years Vienna has topped the rankings as most liveable city in consecutive years. Often enough it is Zuerich in Switzerland and Vienna as the two cities fighting over the first two places. Vienna however has recently overtaken Zuerich and has been, at least in the renown Mercer raking Quality of living ranking, on place number one for two years in a row.

Vienna is lovely, sorted and clean at least somewhere between the first Bezirk and the 19th. The sprawling suburbisation in the ranges of the green fringes around the city is a different topic.

Only just recently the historic centre of the city, the first Bezirk has been given World Heritage status appraising the quality of the ensemble and freezing it for the foreseeable future as such. It’s not that there are no interventions, 70s or 80s monstrosities, commercialised shop fronts or material insensivities. Overall however, the management of history, legacy and identity has been rather successful. This for example includes the very first and fiercely and controversially discussed Coop Himmelb(l)au rooftop project number one at Falkestrasse 6, just accross from the MAK.

Coop Himmelb(l)au Falkestrasse 6 Rooftop
Image by Geral Zugmann, taken from q2xro / Coop Himmelb(l)au Falkestrasse 6 Rooftop project located in Vienna’s first district, now selected as a world heritage site.

Vienna is successfully managing its building stock also beyond the historic centre. From the Ring, the former city wall area, to the Guertel, the former secondary wall, and beyond into the Vorstaedte Vienna has kept a rather xxxx einheitlich xxx building stock of Gruenderzeit buildings. On the city side of the Guertel one finds the upper class houses and on the outside the lower class buildings back then called the Zinshaeuser, meaning interest building, since it was built in the dramatic growth period of the industrialization during the 19th century. During this region Vienna grew from audit 1m to 2m with most of the population living in these Zinshaeuser suffering terrible standards, including the renting of beds, by the landlord twice or even three fold for shift workers.

As mentioned in the earlier post on Vienna, the cities population declined dramatically after the Second World War with the introduction of the Iron Curtain and Vienna in the following being disconnected from its Eastern backcountry. Interesting enough however, the city kept growing, still turing the surrounding grassland into built areas.

Over about 50 years Vienna developed a very sophisticated housing practice. Social housing is a established practice since the establishment of the Red Vienna. Housing is with the massive building stock within the city however, always also a topic of revitalisation and inner city change. Experts from the city today call it Slow Urban Revitalisation. This is however cheekily positively describing a lack of pressure and investment.

Vienna does not have, as other cities do a dramatic pressure on its building stock. Because they kept building, even if slowed down, as well as maintaining the Gruenderzeit buildings, the city is very well stocked. Slow in this case is a luxury of course offering great opportunities. There is more time for quality, more time for adaptability and more time for growth within each project.

Urban spaces don’t like to be rushed in to places. the context needs to adapt and grow alongside. In Vienna this practice was sort of accidentally developed and put in to practice, simply because the conditions were pushing it this way. Nevertheless the planners and the responsible people in the Gebietsbetreuung make the most of it and there are a number of very successful projects that could be realised at inner city locations.

Vienna Urban-Loritz Square by Silja Tillner
Image taken from Wikimeda / Vienna Urban-Loritz Square. Roof developed by architect Silja Tillner as part of the redesign of the square in connection with the Guertel Revitalisation.

One such project is the Guertel Revitalisation mainly lead and developed by the architect Silja Tillner. The project managed to revitalise the 30 km Westguertel along the Stadtbahn (Vienna Metropolitan Railway) designed and relised by Otto Wagner.

Interesting around the management of the building stock and the quality of urbanity developed under the new redevelopment schemas, is the discussion around density. As the Zinshaeuser earlier were really developed as cheep housing options for the owners to make money they provided only minimal standards and were rented out on a room basis. To optimize rents rooms often housed up to ten individuals. This meant real packed living under these circumstances.

However today, these densities have dramatically dropped and even though the built mass, the building stock is still the same the sort of people density must have dropped dramatically. Especially if the population reduction is taken into account as well as the continuous building practice on the outskirts. The image of the city that forms is a sophisticated spreading process. Vienna must have changed from a high-density, highly packed urban moloch into a lovely living standard league topping city.

At what cost? Non there seems, if talking to officials. Everybody seems pleased and very busy with he Slow Urban Revitalization . Everything is happening so slowly that there is little sense of the overall picture. While Vienna is continuously eating and in post-post-modernism digesting the surrounding countryside, the inner city slow changing practice is not adding quality to the urban spaces beyond rising the living standards inside the Gruenderzeit buildings. Its merely a shift from a one room apartment occupied by 10 tenants plus kids, to a very chic Altbau Wohnung (old building flat), a two or maybe three bed apartment for a single household or a couple maybe.

Whilst the urban constellation still looks the same, the city has changed. It has changed dramatically and is slipping through he fingers of the planners. It can not be captured by density factors in numbers, the new identity and the new buzz is generated by individuals and people density. Physically Vienna is built but inside this structure the body of the city has changed, it has been starved and is now with returning wealth thinning out.


The movie shows the building site around the artificially created lake for the new Aspern Lake City development on the outskirts of Vienna. It is located on a former airfield and underdevelopment for mainly housing usage. Masterplan available HERE.

Whilst the Gruenderzeit buildings seems to hold typologically very good qualities with its very basic and simple structure appear adaptable. This thinning process might lead to the crushing of the cities body if these heavy structures are underused and too scarcely populated. The city could it itself slowly from the inside. In addition of course there is a parallel discussion focusing on the outskirts and the continuos growing process at the fringes. With Vienna’s forecasted population growth towards t the 2m mark again, the discussion around sustainable growth, density and planning are essential and at the moment appear to bother the politicians and planners in this slow developing city not enough.

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The Alps as a place for living has a log tradition as an influential source shaping specific typologies and buildings. The specific conditions of the environment but also the very special atmosphere impact on both the design and the realisation of projects.

Often this used to be very practical and pragmatic, resulting in specific and highly adapted vernacular architecture. Almost each valley over the centuries developed a very typical and very local solution always in tight interdependance to the cultural practice of everyday live, the recoures and the environmental conditions.

Gondo (CH), multi-family house
Image taken from Kunst Merano Arte / Alpine landscape, photo: H. Nägele.

The perfect adaptation was essential for the living in the rough conditions of higher altitude and steeper meadows and long winters. With the introduction of technology and machinery this has changed to some extend and the requirements might have changed. However, the sensation, the intensity and the atmosphere are largely still the same. The mountains are still a special place.

Here the weather is more intense, the light is capable of changing the landscape and the seasons are real. Architecture still reflects this with outstanding projects created for very special conditions to fit with a context of vernacular heritage.

Alps Relief
Image taken from infrastruct, original taken from Wikimedia by Jide / The Alps shown as a relief shaded according to the elevation.

The Birkhauser publication Living in the Alps/Wohnraum Alpen/Abitare le Alpi: Nachhaltiger Wohnbau in den Bergen – zeitgenössische Wohnformen mit Perspektive summarises and documents a touring exhibition on the topic of architecture in the Alps with the same title. THe exhibition and the publication is lead by the Merano Arte institution. The Alps here are really the Alps and not as previous publications might have selected the alps as a the mountainous area of a country. Here the Alps is everything with hills from the French Mediterranean around Nice through Switzerland and Austria all the way to Vienna. A total of eight countries are involved in this area stretching from Monaco to Slovenia.

For each of the differentiated regions of this large area a selection of projects is presented together with an essay describing and characterising the specifics in both culture and architecture. The projects chosen for the exhibition and also documented in the publication are all communal forms of housing. Probably as new interpretation of the older vernacular model of the multigeneration household. It is clearly stated that the single family house is not part of the this publication.

Alps Relief
Image taken from Birkhauser / Kaiserau EA7 Residential Complex in Bozen, Trentino Suedtirol, by Atelier Christoph Mayr Fingerle.

With this clear definition of focus a focus on the communities and the living in the Alps consequently the contributors are also discussion aspects of regional and spatial planning in the different regions. In cities the aspects of planning at different scales is today common practice, in many regions of the Alps this is new.

The publication is in three languages German, Italian and English. It is a large scale catalogue with cute little booklets inside, each containing one of the essays. The photographs are well selected and full page prints bringing the aspects of very specific atmosphere across.

Gondo (CH), multi-family house
Image taken from Kunst Merano Arte / Gondo (CH), multi-family house, hotel, community hall, architects Durrer Linggi and Jürg Schmid, photo: H. Nägele.

Andreas Gottlieb Hempel explains about the publications: “The exhibition catalogue is an important contemporary document of urban planning, architecture, culture and sociological development in the Alpine region. Every South Tyrolean who is interested in the change of our times should have read it in order to better understand the architectural processes in our region.”

Kunst, M. ed., 2010. Living in the Alps/Wohnraum Alpen/Abitare le Alpi: Nachhaltiger Wohnbau in den Bergen – zeitgenössische Wohnformen mit Perspektive, Birkhauser Verlag AG.

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Prestel has launched a new short series on the history of architecture focusing on a range of architecture styles. So far published are Romanesque Architecture, Renaissance Architecture, Gothic Architecture as well as Contemporary Architecture.

The aim of the series is to introduce architecture and specifically architecture styles throughout the ages. Each volume is dedicated to a specific topic and discusses it in detail making great use of carefully selected photographs, drawings and sketches to illustrate and extend on the accessibly written text.

Torre Velasca, Milan
Image taken from skycrapercity / Torre Velasca, Milan, Italy. built between 1956-58, hight 106 meters. Features in the booklet on The Story of Contemporary Architecture.

The text is key here and especially because each booklet is a short introduction, with about 140 odd pages, room is limited for flowering descriptions. The authors have managed to bring out the important points, anchoring each of them in the wider context.

Of course the series is not presenting any new material and history has been discusse before, but the nicely styles and well written booklets are a good way of getting into or even refresh on the different strands of architecture over the past, leading up to contemporary architectural discussion.

Saint-Malo
Image taken from skycrapercity / City of Saint-Malo built 12th-18th century in France. Features in the booklet on The Story of Gothic Architecture.

The series is mentioning aspects of technology, material and concepts as far at it is relevant to the development of the movement and the style. This also includes references to cultural movements and developments. Overall it provides a quite comprehensive picture.

Each booklet is structured with an introduction, providing the wider context and the lead in. this is followed by a discussion of the main characteristics of the style at hand. The third part is a presentation of examples featuring very prominent ambassador buildings representing each style.

Prestel the Story of ArchitecturePrestel the Story of Architecture
Prestel the Story of ArchitecturePrestel the Story of Architecture
Image taken from boomerangbooks / Architecture history series books covers.

Favole, P., 2011. The Story of Contemporary Architecture, London: Prestel.
Prina, F., 2011a. The Story of Gothic Architecture, London: Prestel.
Prina, F., 2011b. The Story of Romanesque Architecture, London: Prestel.
Servida, S., 2011. The Story of Renaissance Architecture, London: Prestel.
Zanlungo, C., 2011. The Story of Baroque Architecture, London: Prestel.

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In many ways cities are developing a pressurised and highly specialised environment in large areas driven by competition. It is buzzing environment defined by constant change at fast pace where everyone who slows down risks to drop through the loopholes in the system.

For this is an extreme and very narrow view of urbanised places it describes an image cities have fostered for years in order to compete and grow at such a rate they don’t recognise themselves. It os attractive and offeres opportunities, however only really works as a concept if there is an opposite pole it can be balanced with.

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Image taken from aureon / Book spread, view of the islands.

The countryside is fading away in such a role as balancing pole due to many and complex interwoven reasons, mainly economical ones. However, the slowness creating a relaxed atmosphere of rural areas is inspiring to a number of projects and visions recently. The villages and the traditions are not forgotten, they still have their power and intensity if we only pause and look, stop and experience.

Insular Insight: Where Art and architecture Conspire with Nature is a Lars Muller Publication, edited by Lars Muller and Akiko Miki in collaboration with Hiroshi Kagayama on a large scale project to develop such a thing as public capitalism or an investment in culture.

The book documents the project developed by Soichiro Fukutake, a Japanese businessman who invested in art and he community on islands in the Seto Inland Sea in Japan, bringing the place, the art and architecture together to shape an spirit and way of life. He believed contemporary art to be the best way to inspire people and transform an area.

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Image taken from aureon / Book spread, inside the Teshima Art Museum.

In various projects with renown international artists and architects a series of instaations permanent and temporary have been built in the ast on the Setouchi islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima in the Seto Inland Sea. Contributing artists and architects include James Turrell, Tatsuao Miyajima, Tadao Ando, Rai Nito, Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA and many more. Many of the works are set as art houses where artists and architects have actually worked together to create permanent locations for installations. Then there are aso larger infrastructural buildings such a port terminals and museums buit as part of the investment.

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Image taken from aureon / Book spread, artwork ‘The Secret of the Sky’ van Kan Yasuda.

These infrastructures are essential to the change the efforts have brought about the islands. The project has lead to a dramatic increase of visitors to the islands. In the past twenty years the number of guests has increased from about 20’000 to over 620’000 a year. economically this is a very big change, but definitely this is also a turning point for culture and especially society on the smal islands.

This is of course seemingly pushing in the same direction as any city does with unconditional aspiration for growth and change. However, at the hart of this project lies the desire to conspire with nature and this book is a manifesto for it. It offers more than just a documentation or a catalogue of the realised projects, but is a discussion and presentation with background and contextual details. Renown writers such a Peter Sloterdjik, Nayan Chanda or Eva Blau contribute essays to this discussion the founder Sochiro Fukutake want to be carried out into the word. A manifesto for stillness and slowness.

Insular Insight
Image taken from fontanel / Book cover.

Muller, L. & Miki, A., 2011. Insular Insight: Where Art and Architecture Conspire with Nature, Baden: Lars Muller Publishers.

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Megeastructures have a fascination of their own, blurring the attention to detail with the impression of now detail at all. Especially in the way such a structure manages to trick the impression of scale is in it self a fascination.

The last century has seen many different styles, but the megastructures had a sort of live of their own fitting in with most of them or none of them. This fascination sort of developed in parallel or through out the styles, mainly in the late sixties and seventies.

Singapore New City Landscape
Image taken from mg-lj / A sketch of
Ville Spatial
project spanning across the horizon .

They are still a big topic. The office producing the most megastructure proposals is definitely BIG, led by Bjarne Ingels. Is basically the practice’s solution to anything. However the most beautiful recent megastructure is probably Steven Holl Architects’ Beijing project.

The megastruture was especially in after the 1950 a big topic, sort of at the end of the modernist area. Yona Friedman, who is branded one of the fathers of the megastructure, presented his project ‘Ville Spatiale‘ at the last CIAM congress in 1956 in Dubrovnik. The invention of the structure, its conception and purpose was however not at all intended aesthetically as it might be nowadays. Friedman formulates the motivation as “The Ville Spatial is in fact harmony between individual, extreme individual and community”.

In a new Actar and AA MUSAC publication edited by Maria Inés Rodriguez with the title Yona Friedman: Architecture with the People, by the People, for the People the architect and artist Yona Friedaman’s projects and ideas are republished and critically discussed with contributions by Kenneth Frampton, Manuel Orazi and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Métropol Europe
Image taken from deconcrete / A sketch of Métropol Europe showing the different hubs of Europe and how they form sub areas.

Yona Friedman was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1923 and lives and works in Paris. He studied at the Technical University in Budapest (Budapesti Műszaki és Gazdaságtudományi Egyetem) and in Haifa. His work has spanned areas ranging from architecture, art and animated film to education and writing. He has participated in numerous art biennials including Shanghai, Venice and Documenta 11. His highly visionary ideas have nurtured various generations of architects and urbanists, influencing groups such as Archigram and even Kenzo Tange, who declared as such in 1970 in Osaka.

It is a monograph looking back at the work by this fascinating architect who is actually many other things too, but does in most of his projects refer back to architecture. The publications presents a range of his projects, with a focus on the tree main works he is still continuing. The Métropole Europe, the Ville Spatial and the Museum are the sort of main strands in the book.

Iconostase
Image taken from Yona Fridman Blog / A model at the scale of 1:50 of the Iconostase structure for a outdoor museum.

The contributions discuss the work in context and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s interview with Yona Fridman provides a sort of link to the present as wel as probably the future. Thanks to this part of the book, the reader gets a sense of actuality. With its retrospective setting one could easily believe these topics to be a thing of the past, but the interview brings it tot he here and now as something that is still happening.

And yes it is, Friedman is still okring on his projects and he has so many upcoming projects, it’s fascinating. He’s go his Museums set up in Singapore and Italy, shoed the Iconostase at the Art Basel last year and showed a prototype of the Ville Spatial at the Biennale in Venice last year.

Yona Fridaman
Image taken from amazon / Book cover.

Rodriguez, M.I. ed., 2011. Architecture with the People, by the People, for the People: Yona Friedman, Barcelona: Actar.

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Gender stereotypes have changed in the past twenty years and in many areas of professional live the gap between the sexes has started to close. The western society has started to accept that both men and women can do the same jobs and should be rewarded the same.

According to a RIBA report investigating the reasons why so many female architects leave practice in the UK the right to work as an architect was only established in 1919 with the Sex Discrimination (Removal) Act – women were allowed to become architects. However, after a brief moment at work were sent home to do domestic work until the end of the second world war.

Lisa Iwamoto
Image taken from dailytonic / ‘Voussoir Cloud’ by San Fransisco-based studio IwamotoScott (Lisa Iwamoto) with Buro Happold.

The current most notable women in architecture are arguably Kazuyo Sejima from Sanaa and Zaha Hadid from Zaha Hadid Architects. Both are Prizker Prize winners, Zaha Hadid in 2004 and Kazuyo Sejima together with her office partner Ryue Nishizawa in 2010. Both feature in the media frequently with their professional achievements.

In a new book Architecture: A Woman’s Profession published by Jovis, Tanja Kullack Brings together a reference book that looks not only at the current situation, but also at the wider context such as education. The book offers a range of perspectives from individual women professionals on a range of topics.

The way the content is presented is very interesting in so far as it aims to emulate a discussion. This discussion is arranged by topic, not contributor. The individual vies are presented as statements under a summarising topic. This structure produces text that is very much a debate as if you had a round table and everybody there would put in their thoughts.

Some of the topics discussed are: on authorship and genius; on education, graduates and students; on identity; on leadership; on success and career and conditions therefore; on media and the ‘society of spectacle’; plus of course many more.

In addition to this every contributing architect also is portrayed through their profesional practice through a photo essay of their designs and work. There is no individual practice description or anything only the statements and the work. This makes it quite a personal setting for not having this professional security shield of achievements put up front, making the discussion much more accessible.

Alison Brooks
Image taken from inhabitat / Wildspace by Alison Brooks Architects – Colorful Factory Building – Industrial Building Design.

The publication points out that even though in the education stage the classrooms are fu of female architecture students, the professional world is not, especially not in leading roles. Education has only recently become female dominated but the participants in this bok very often reflect on their personal education as the defining element and the absence of female role models has its impact. As for example Alison Brooks reflects in the text: … I wasn’t sensitive at the time (to the fact that non of the studio teachers were female). Until recently, we were kind of brainwashed into thinking that men are the authority figures; therefore, they teach, run things, etc. Women have been accepting this for such a long time. Men are raised, or grow up expecting to be in positions of leadership and women do not.

Architecture: A Woman's Profession
Image taken from amazon.ca / Architecture: A Woman’s Profession – book cover.

Kullack, T. ed., 2011. Architecture: A Woman’s Profession, Berlin: Jovis.

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What is the material architecture is made of? Is it concret, glass and steel? Mortar, bricks and timber Stone, fabrics and plastic? All of them or none of them? So many different ways of putting this, but there must be something just beyond the physicality of the materiality of architecture, something that holds it together and creates an atmosphere as the sum of all pieces.

For Lebbeus Woods architecture is in essence light, mater and energy put in combination, mastering the elements spatially. He is mainly interested in geometry and light, where geometri is the relationship between light, matter and energy, in reference to Einstein’s E/m=c2.

Woods Berlin Underground
Image taken from the Fun Ambulist / Lebbeus Woods project Berlin Underground.

In a 2011 reprint of the 1989 publication oneFiveFour by Lebbeus Woods and published by Princeton Architecture Press some of Woods’ projects are showcased. Foremost, these are A. City, Centricity and Berlin UNderground. It’s a beautiful black and white print of projects, sketches and writings unveiling an, at times, futuristic or star wars like scenery of buildings, as a vison for a city. There is a lot of movement in the sketches implying a strong sense of process and making. Most of the elements are partially finished, waiting to be extended and developed further. It’s a sort of invitation. Woods is not proposing those structures as static objects everything is in the making, on offer for collaboration?

Woods Berlin Underground
Image taken from the Fun Ambulist / Lebbeus Woods project.

Woods Berlin Underground
Image taken from the Fun Ambulist / Book Cover OneFiveFour.

Woods, L., 1989. One Five Four, New York, N.Y: Princeton Architectural Press.

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