"I’m always shocked when critics of the mid-20th Century architectural style known as Michigan Modern decry that period as a silly time of tail fins on cars, uncomfortable furniture, and shiny, kitschy buildings. Shocked, because I think Michigan Modern, properly understood, remains our greatest architectural expression." [more inside]
Brutalism Is Back [The New York Times] “But now, like the chevron mustache, Brutalism [wiki] is undergoing something of a revival. Despite two generations of abuse (and perhaps a little because of it), an enthusiasm for Brutalist buildings beyond the febrile, narrow precincts of architecture criticism has begun to take hold. Preservationists clamor for their survival, historians laud their ethical origins and an independent public has found beauty in their rawness. For an aesthetic once praised for its “ruthless logic” and “bloody-mindedness” — in the much-quoted phrasing of critic Reyner Banham — it is a surprising turn of events.” [more inside]
The prevailing attitude [in China] is chabuduo, or ‘close enough’. It’s a phrase you’ll hear with grating regularity, one that speaks to a job 70 per cent done, a plan sketched out but never completed, a gauge unchecked or a socket put in the wrong size. Chabuduo is the corrosive opposite of the impulse towards craftmanship...it implies that to put any more time or effort into a piece of work would be the act of a fool. China is the land of the cut corner, of ‘good enough for government work’.
Discrimination by Design: The Many Ways Design Decisions Treat People Unequally. by Lena Groeger [Pro Publica] “Discriminatory design and decision-making affects all aspects of our lives: from the quality of our health care and education to where we live to what scientific questions we choose to ask. It would be impossible to cover them all, so we’ll focus on the more tangible and visual design that humans interact with every day.” [Previously.] [Previously.] [more inside]
[more inside]"Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence." Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical ReproductionThis is our point of entry today: to take old chestnuts and try to crack them to see what pops out. Our subject is Disneyland. Our topic: charm.
Worst of the McMansions If you love to hate the ugly houses that became ubiquitous before the bubble burst (1980s-2009) you've come to the right place. Highlights include: McMansions 101: What Makes a McMansion Bad?, and this brief opinionated history of the garage.
The Evolution of the Petrol/Gas/Filling/Service Station Gas stations might be boring or even ugly places, but for the most part, you can’t avoid stopping by one on a long trip. However, they have been so many more beyond the basic design of columns, roof and shop over their history. The following 60+1 filling stations encompass almost a century of architectural progression, showcasing some of the best Art Deco, Bauhaus, futurist, brutalist, minimalist, modernist, Googie building designs of the motorist history. Enjoy the ride!
Misplaced.Design Eleven New York City landmarks have been misplaced, their current location unknown. Photographs of unclear origin appear to show them scattered across the globe – on sand dunes, mud flats, “lunar” plains, and rocky beaches. Nobody knows exactly what happened or why
Uncube has ended. A Berlin-based digital architecture magazine that began in 2012 has concluded with issue #43, Athens. Known for its unconventional reportage and groundbreaking design, monthly themes ran the gamut from the desert to Iceland to outer space to, well, death. [more inside]
Groundbreaking visionary of contemporary spatial design, Dame Zaha Hadid has passed away. The British designer had a heart attack while in hospital in Miami, where she was being treated for bronchitis. One of the most sought-after architects in the world, Iraqi-born London-based Hadid was first woman to be awarded the prestigious RIBA gold medal in her own right, and the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize.
Photographer Mehrdad Rasoulifard is taking viewers on a visual journey through the history of ancient (and modern!) Iranian architecture and design. He captures the structural and artistic intricacies of iran’s most significant places of worship and cultural complexes, including the tessellated and tiled ceilings of historic mosques. [via designboom]
Megalithic Robotics is a recent class at MIT that resulted in a very interesting object: a 2000-pound megalith that can be moved with a fingertip.
Eugene Tssui designed the “Fish House” – based on the tardigrade, a segmented marine microanimal – for his parents in Berkeley, California. But that’s not the only interesting thing about him. . . . [more inside]
"The tension, the promise, and the peril of the exoskeleton: It is great for some, but in the gusto for technological solutions, for stories that “inspire” and for devices that pull people into the “normal” world, people can lose sight of a future that could be much better. " Rose Eveleth at The Atlantic writes about exoskeletons and other forms of assistive technology for people with disabilities, the life-changing things they can do, and the possibility that they are blinding us to other ways to look at disability, accessibility, and infrastructure. This is part of Remaking the Bodies, a series on how science and technology are re-engineering the human body.
He was a prophet without imprimatur in his own city. Charles Correa, who passed away late on the night of 16 June, was among the great architects of our times. His institutional buildings across the world are all iconic. Yet, Mumbai, his lifelong home, boasts just one* residential tower designed by him – an irony as much as a travesty. Though the cubist Kanchanjunga is eye-catching, it’s still high-rise: a genre caustically savaged by this patron saint of low-slung architecture.[more inside]
Building the Moroccan Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art [slyt, 17m44s] "In 2011, The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened the New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, which house the Museum's renowned collection of Islamic art. A vital part of the installation was the Patti Cadby Birch Court, a Moroccan court built by a team of experts—from curators and historians to designers and craftsmen—over many months.... This video documents a marvelous journey from Fez to New York, and the creation of a twenty-first-century court using traditional fifteenth-century methods."
Fredrik deBoer reflects on disparities among university buildings and what they say about different approaches to higher education: [more inside]
Even though Lorenz, who, like Downey, is blind, can't see the space before her, she knows exactly what to expect. On her desk at the ILRC's current office on Mission Street, she keeps a tactile floor plan that Downey printed for her. The plan's fine web of raised lines looks like an elaborate decorative pattern, suggesting a leaf of handmade stationery or a large sheet from which doilies are about to be cut. Though Downey has consulted on other architects' projects since going blind six years ago, this one marks a turning point for him. The community center is the first space he's designed since losing his sight. The center recently opened its doors to the public with a celebration to inaugurate the new space, located on Howard Street in the city's Yerba Buena district, just down the block from the Moscone convention center. But on this May afternoon, the walls are just beginning to go up.
Archillect, billed as The Ocular Engine, is a recent project from enigmatic designer Murat Pak. [more inside]
The European Parliament building regularly makes visitors and employees break down and cry. The disorienting effect probably wasn’t an accident. “Our buildings offer themselves to their inhabitants and to the city as ‘mysteries,’ or stories for which we provide ‘keys’ and signs so that they can be deciphered,” is how Architecture-Studio’s website describes its approach.
"Demolished: the end of Chicago's Public Housing" A look back at Chicago's 20th-century public housing high-rises, and how they were taken down. Also an interesting form of web presentation. (SLNPR)
Bolivia has undergone a significant change under the three terms of President Evo Morales, the first president to come from the country's indigenous majority. Members of that majority have found prosperity, increasing the prestige of indigenous design and style, as seen in this seven minute segment on the new buildings and minor twists on old fashions adopted by Bolivia's indigenous bourgeoisie, from Financial Times' coverage of the displays of the Aymara people's new-found wealth. [more inside]
"Unlike hearing people, the deaf have to keep sightlines in order to maintain conversations. So when deaf people walk and talk, they’ll lock into a kind of dance. Going through a doorway, one person will spin in place and walk backwards to keep talking. Walking past a column, two deaf people in conversation will move in tandem to avoid collision." The podcast 99% Invisible interviews a designer of a building at Gallaudet University designed for the way deaf people move and talk. [full transcript]
Interested in art, architecture, design, numismatics, software? Then you will be fascinated by Dutch artist Stani's detailed description how he won the competition to design the 2008 commemorative 5 Euro coin themed "Netherlands and architecture". A brilliant insight into the designer's thought process and the technology used to implement his concepts.
The post-war boom gave rise to new concepts of modernity in domestic architecture and, of course, massive suburban development. One such concept was the California ranch-style home, pioneered by Cliff May (1909-1989). Another contemporary architect, Joseph Eichler (1900-1974), had his own vision of modernity in America's new suburbs, but both styles used similar language. At the time, these new designs for living were seen as modern and at the cutting edge of sophistication, but sophistication within reach of the average professional, middle-class family. They were designed to have a practical as well as an aesthetic value. Welcome to mid-century modern. [more inside]
Mountain Lab: An Interview With Scott McGuire
"As a form of minor architecture," the resulting short article explained, "tents are strangely overlooked. They are portable, temporary, and designed to withstand even the most extreme conditions, but they are usually viewed as simple sporting goods. They are something between a large backpack and outdoor lifestyle gear—certainly not small buildings. But what might an architect learn from the structure and design of a well-made tent?" Amongst the group of people we spoke with that day was outdoor equipment strategist Scott McGuire, an intense, articulate, and highly focused advocate for all things outdoors.
Imbued with asymmetrical charm and handcrafted whimsy, Storybook Style houses evoke the aesthetic of classic fairy tales, inside and out. [more inside]
Shigeru Ban’s Pritzker win proves that building hope is finally in vogue
The architecture world has a new laureate, and he builds in cardboard. Japan’s Shigeru Ban was named this week as the winner of the Pritzker Prize, an annual award that is often called architecture’s Nobel – and his win sends a clear and timely message. Social change, sustainability and improving the lives of the many: This is what matters now to the world of architecture. With Ban’s Pritzker, the global design elite is marking that shift.Take a Tour of Pritzker Winner Shigeru Ban's Paper Tube Structures [more inside]
A catalog of places that used to be a Pizza Hut. The iconic "Red Roof" design was the subject of a recent episode of 99% Invisible (previously).
Walking City - "Referencing the utopian visions of 1960’s architecture practice Archigram, Walking City is a slowly evolving video sculpture. The language of materials and patterns seen in radical architecture transform as the nomadic city walks endlessly, adapting to the environments she encounters."
The Douglas Fir Plywood Association presents Second Homes for Leisure Living . . . here are 18 new leisure-time homes, built with fir plywood for comfort and economy. [via]
Beijing and Amsterdam-based studio NEXT architects have won first place in a bridge design competition for Meixi Lake near the Changsha capital in Hunan, China. The shape was inspired by the Mobius Strip and Chinese knotting.
In 1999, officials in Vienna, Austria, asked residents of the city's ninth district how often and why they used public transportation. "Most of the men filled out the questionnaire in less than five minutes," says Ursula Bauer, one of the city administrators tasked with carrying out the survey. "But the women couldn't stop writing."
"The owners of the 37-story tower known as the Walkie Talkie in the City of London financial district are investigating a light beam cast by the building that’s so intense it melted parked cars." Jaguar owner Martin Lindsay was none too pleased by this evidence of the laws of physics. And architect Rafael Vinolyapparently hasn't learned from his previous hair-scorching design error in Las Vegas.
The American Institute of Architects’ Code of Ethics [pdf] states that “Members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors." Raphael Sperry, president of Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), wants to amend the code further so it reads "Members shall not design spaces intended for execution or for torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including prolonged solitary confinement." From Architect Magazine: “Should Architects Design Prisons?” [more inside]
"Polish architect Jakub Szczesny claims to have built the world's narrowest house, just 122 centimetres across at its widest point."
Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes runs from 15 June - 23 September 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. It is the museum's first comprehensive exhibition on Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887-1965), and is billed as "the largest exhibition ever produced in New York of [his] protean and influential oeuvre"; in 2014 it will travel to Madrid and Barcelona. Exhibition curator Jean-Louis Cohen, an architectural historian at New York University, gave a tour of the exhibition as part of the "Le Corbusier/New York" symposium at the Center for Architecture on June 8. World-Architects was in attendance, so here we present some insight into the exhibition, accompanied by highlights from the symposium at right.
Endbahnhof, a collection of photographs of every U-Bahn station in Berlin, organised by line and showing the variety of architectural styles in the system. There is an interview with the photographer, Kate Seabrook, here.
Sian Jarvis, the supermarket’s head of corporate affairs, had undermined her claims to care about the health of her customers and let slip one of the secrets of a multi-billion-pound industry ... she revealed that one in three Asda checkouts “are what we call guilt-free checkouts”. Jarvis insisted “guilt-free” was merely “a term that’s commonly used in retail”. But it was too late, and her “guilt” gaffe quickly invited scorn in the industry and among public health professionals. Whatever the damage, she had already opened a door to the arcane science of supermarket psychology. To the designers of the modern store, shoppers are lab rats with trolleys, guided through a maze of aisles by the promise of rewards they never knew they sought The Secrets Of Our Supermarkets[more inside]
"Inspired by ruins, DNA and primary geometry, Louis Kahn was one of the 20th century's most influential architects. Why isn't he more famous? Oliver Wainwright on the life and legacy of a man who died bankrupt" ~ The Guardian
" Initially it was thought to be something to house firewood, though it didn’t seem capable of holding much, and the slat that sits perpendicular to the box on the inside wall made little sense. It took observers a while to realize that this contraption was a device for holding children—a “baby tender.”" (via)
Cairobserver is the start of a conversation about Cairo’s architecture and building, urban fabric and city life. A well curated blog about Cairo featuring both Arabic and English essays. [more inside]
How good is Zaha Hadid's new building? So good it's already being copied. And the copy may be finished before the original. [more inside]
This series of experiments explores the use fresh animal blood as the basis for a building material.
Here’re some photographs of outstanding structures & buildings:
The Salk Institute in San Diego
400 Monte Vista Avenue, Mill Valley CA
Light Cathedral, Ghent Belgium
The Buzludzha monument ... [more inside]
The Salk Institute in San Diego
400 Monte Vista Avenue, Mill Valley CA
Light Cathedral, Ghent Belgium
The Buzludzha monument ... [more inside]
The SCI-Arc Media Archive features 600+ video lectures on modern architecture and design, with an emphasis on Southern California.