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While emphasizing the multiple correspondences between collectives and groups like Arte Povera, Archizoom, Superstudio, and figures such as Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini, The Italian Avant-Garde: 1968-1976 also highlights previously overlooked spaces, works, and performances generated by Zoo, Gruppo 9999, and Cavart. Newly commissioned interviews and essays by historians and curators shed light on the era, while contemporary practitioners discuss its complex legacy continue

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Urbanist

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

ted architecture

Watch these videos and you will never see built environments in the same way again. Some tackle timeless questions of light, dark and color, while others address emerging technologies and the architectural problems of tomorrow. Skim the descriptions below to decide which you want to view – or take an hour of your day to enjoy them all!

Richard Kelly starts out with Le Corbusier’s modern classic Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, illustrating the amazing plays of light and dark that together make for a deeply spiritual experience of space. He goes on to talk about Richard Kelly, a pioneer of lighting design, who talked in terms of focal glow (space-dominating sources), ambient luminescence (mood lighting) and plays of brilliants (bright points in a dark space). If you have any doubt about the importance of light and color in architectural design, you need to watch this video.

Daniel Libeskind is a designer who preaches what he practices. He abhors neutral and strives for inspirational, emotional, complex, risky, raw and story-telling architecture that both describes but also rises above the times in which it is built. At the same time, he is not a proponent of artistic expression for its own sake, but shows surprising pragmatism – architecture, like the Ground Zero memorial towers, should fit the consensus and respond to the needs of people occupying it.  Whether or not you are a fan of his elaborate Deconstructivist-style monuments and institutions, this talk will help you put one of today’s most energetic architects in context.

Rachel Armstrong proposes self-repairing and evolving metabolic materials that will step beyond design and history. She boldly proposes that sustainability means connecting to nature in a fundamental way: namely, with building blocks that can grow and change. It is more than just a vision, though – she brings actual material developments to the table that defy the inert qualities of familiar concrete, wood and bricks.  These can respond in real time to environmental conditions. Instead of imposing structure upon matter, these concepts, like what they contain, are necessarily dynamic – they will literally grow out of material science in the coming years.

Magnus Larsson has an improbable but grand project in mind, turning bacteria and grains of sand into a sandstone wall that could span the entire continent of Africa.  Each second, one billion grains of sand are created in the world – some become sandstone, but others collect in dunes and deserts. Each day, the Saharan frontier moves a meter forward, taking over human-occupied lands and displacing populations. To reclaim vast and uninhabited areas of the Earth, it only makes sense that we turn the destructive desertification power of sand to our advantage. This proposal would have multiple benefits, reclaiming such spaces, reducing droughts and curbing climate change.

Bjarke Ingels asks how we tell the architectural design stories outside of the finished project, using alternative media (including comic books!) to talk about history, evolution and the avante garde of architecture. If you enjoy offbeat comparisons, visual juxtapositions,  comedic concepts and experimental expression, this is a much-watch video.

Cameron Sinclair was and is an early proponent of open-source architecture to address everyday issues of sustainable global design, from emergency housing and transitional shelter to shipping container infrastructure, straw bale construction, mobile health clinics and more. This talk is now nearly a decade old, but the lessons are just as applicable today, or perhaps more so than ever.

Liz Diller (of Diller + Scofidio) describes architecture as a special-effects machine – beyond basic shelter, it is theatrical in essence. Her work challenges conventions of spatial use and building technology. Notably, she recognizes that her projects are not always easy to capture and display in museum retrospectives – they are about a time, place and experience, for better (and/)or for worse. This video should be a fittingly light-hearted end to these series of somewhat-heavy features.

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Cable cars, algae bio-fuel cells, and urban agriculture are sandwiched into just a small slice of Arup's future skyscraper.

Rob Hunt/Arup

The urban buildings of the near-future will be tall, smart, adaptable, responsive, honest, modular, recyclable, clean, and deeply embedded into the systems of their host cities, if an imaginative vision from Arup's Foresight team is anything to judge by. In its evocatively titled It's Alive, Arup (the firm responsible for the structural design of the iconic Sydney Opera House) asks if we can imagine the urban building of the future while simultaneously presenting its take on the matter. The report contains plenty of ideas, albeit briefly stated, so I thought it would be fun to identify some of today's science and technology that has made it into Arup's skyscraper of tomorrow and discuss whether Arup's vision is more grounded in fact or fiction.


Arup's urban building of 2050 Rob Hunt/Arup

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Arup's future-scraper is the product of its time; a time 37 years from now that will suck and be awesome in approximately equal measures. Why suck? Because 37 years will see us through to the year 2050, and Arup shares (or perhaps borrows) the OECD's troubling forecast of a warming, overpopulated Earth hungry for, yet deficient in, essential resources. According to this narrative, there will be 9 billion people, with 6.3 billion living in towns and cities.

The good news is that we'll still have iPhones—or their future-proxies, at least. Arup describes the denizens of our future cities as "net-native adults" who have grown up with smart cities, smart clothes, and smart objects. The Internet of Things will be ubiquitous, Arup suggests; presumably to the point that it has been abbreviated simply to "things," the "Internet of" having been long since forgotten.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

abc of architects

An adult-fascinating and kid-friendly overview of 26 works by architectural greats from the last 100 years. Watch as this fantastic collection of animated iconic buildings comes to life in less than two minutes.

G raphic designer Federico Gonzalez worked with architect Andrea Stinga to create this instructive-yet-comical tour de force, animated in the style and set to the same sort of tune you might expect from a vintage cartoon.

abc mid century modernists

Aalto, Barragan and Calatrava lead ultimately to Xenakis, Yamazaki and Zaha – their aim was to cover a worthy structure from each of the 26 architects, and diversify their selections in terms of style and nationality.

abc architect examples

The creators’ only lament: that they could not include more works – but as any architect will tell you: sometimes having limitations and guidelines (like a 26-building limit, in this case) helps you focus on what is most important, and create the best design possible.

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From iconic architecture like the fish-inspired Guggenheim Bilbao to obscure shell-shaped houses in Mexico, these 15 buildings are truly strange.
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[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

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Zaha Hadid Architects has released new images of the British architect’s first built house, the soon-to-be completed Capital Hill residence, located in the hills of Barvikha, just west of Moscow. The spaceship-like house has been commissioned by Russian finance magnate Vladislav Doronin, who intends to present it as a wedding gift to his future bride, none other than Miss Naomi Campbell. Divided into two parts, a main structure blending into the nearby hillside, and a periscope-inspired tower to overlook the surrounding forest.  The first of its kind by Ms. Hadid, the concrete, 2,500 square meter residence will boast a Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, Russian bath, gym, indoor swimming pool, and reception hall. I can’t imagine a more perfect future home for one great diva by another.(...) Read More about Zaha Hadid Capital Hill Residence (1 words)

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

A historic 1880′s warehouse in Melbourne, Australia has been converted into a stunning luxury home with high ceilings, exposed red bricks walls and dramatic archways. The addition of new wood floors, white drywall and a modern kitchen make the space livable without overpowering it.

The renovated apartment is located in ‘Leicester House’, a five-story Neo-Gothic building in downtown Melbourne with deep cornices and detailed Florentine arches on the exterior. Most of the spaces within it are still in use as offices.

While many aficionados of warehouse conversions would likely prefer to see less carpeting and more modern furnishings, the space itself exudes all the historic charm that you could wish for in a building of this age, particularly in the ceiling and the brick walls.

Rustic, recycled, modern and minimalist – apartment remodels come in all varieties, whether they’re redesigned from an out-of-date state or completely converted from something else. Check out 9 more amazing apartment designs and cool condo plans, and 11 lofty additions to urban rooftops.

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New York's Grand Central Terminal, as it currently stands today, was built between 1903 and 1913. But it is the third Grand Central. Two earlier buildings — one called Grand Central Depot, and the other known as Grand Central Station (which remains the colloquial name for the Terminal) — existed on pretty much the exact same spot. But neither lasted nearly as long. The Depot opened in 1871, and was drastically reconstructed in 1899. The new building, the Station, only stood for three years before it began to come down in sections, eventually replaced by the current building.

That's a lot of structural shuffling, and at the Anthropology in Practice blog, Krystal D'Costa explains some of the history behind it. Turns out, the rapid reconfiguration of Grand Central had a lot to do with crowd control — figuring out how to use architecture to make the unruly masses a little more ruly. One early account that D'Costa quotes describes regular mad scrambles to board the train — intimidating altercations that could leave less-aggressive passengers stranded on the platform as their train left them behind.

The problem it seemed was that the interior of the depot did nothing to manage the Crowd—which could resume the same patterns of movement as they did on the street—and believe me, it was just as unruly out there. In the depot, where passengers were confronted with the unbridled power of locomotives, it was necessary to impose some sort of structure to the meeting: the Crowd had to be domesticated.

... A deadly collision in 1902 preceded public demand for an even safer, more accessible terminal. Warren and Wetmore won the bid for reconstruction, and the plan they produced included galleries, which added yet another transition area but, more importantly, rendered the Crowd into a spectacle. This design, which is the one visitors experience today, preserves the Crowd in a central area, providing raised balconies from which there are plenty of opportunities to people-watch. Being placed on display is not lost on the subconscious of the Crowd: what appears to be hustle and bustle are manifestations of many synchronizations happening at once. So what appears to be chaos to the casual observer is actually a play directed by design that makes the Crowd a key feature of the space even as it is minimized by the architectural elements that Grand Central Terminal is known for: the grand ceiling, the large windows, and the deep main concourse. These items add perspective to the Crowd and diminish its psychological power as an uncontrollable mass.

Read the rest of the story at Anthropology in Practice

Image: Grand Central Terminal, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from maha-online's photostream

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The 15th-century Wladislaw Hall in Prague, with its large double windows, is one of the earliest appearances of Renaissance forms in German lands. Yet what is most spectacular about the great hall (above) is what was then most passé: the rib-vaulting done in late Gothic style.

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I really liked Clay Shirky's essay on the relationship between physical space and creativity. It's one of those classic, Shirkian riffs that includes a bunch of seemingly glib and merely clever ideas and culminates with a thing that ties it all together and makes you realize that a bunch of stuff you've been taking for granted is REALLY important and a bit weird.

In this video of his talk at PSFK CONFERENCE NYC, Clay Shirky talks about the work of Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. After working there as an assistant professor for almost ten years, Shirky describes five student projects that he thinks are pushing the creative boundaries - from interface design to how people cluster to build new work. At the end of the talk, the technology thought-leader compares creatives as members of a philharmonic orchestra and wonders if any rules can be drawn from looking at such an ensemble.

Clay Shirky: What I Learned About Creativity By Watching Creatives

(Thanks, Avi!)

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