Burkino Faso-born and Berlin-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been tapped to design the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion at London's Serpentine Galleries.
Recent winners have included Chilean architect Smiljan Radic (2014), Madrid-based SelgasCano (2015) and Bjarke Ingels (2016). In a first, last year's show not only featured Ingels' pavilion, but four other structures as well, by Kunlé Adeyemi, Asif Khan, Barkow Leibinger, and Yona Friedman.
Serpentine Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and CEO Yana Peel, along with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers, chose Kéré, who works extensively across Europe, Africa, and his hometown of Gando. In the U.S., his work was most recently the focus of an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
His design for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion aims to be a gathering space that connects people to each other and nature. Its sheltering steel canopy was, according to the Serpentine Galleries, "inspired by the tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his hometown of Gando..." And while the pavilion will shade from the summer sun, it's prepared for more inclement weather as well: "In the case of rain, an oculus funnels any water that collects on the roof into a spectacular waterfall effect, before it is evacuated through a drainage system in the floor for later use in irrigating the park." Both the roof and the Pavilion's walls will be constructed from wood, though the latter will come in the form of prefabricated triangular blocks.
In a time of rising xenophobia and climate change, Kéré's pavilion aims to send a message of inclusion and sustainability. In his statement, the architect said:
The proposed design for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion is conceived as a micro cosmos—a community structure within Kensington Gardens that fuses cultural references of my home country Burkina Faso with experimental construction techniques. My experience of growing up in a remote desert village has instilled a strong awareness of the social, sustainable, and cultural implications of design. I believe that architecture has the power to, surprise, unite, and inspire all while mediating important aspects such as community, ecology and economy.
To read the rest of Kéré's statement and learn more about the pavilion, see the Serpentine Gallery's website here. The pavilion will be on view from June 23rd to October 8th, 2017.
Herzog & de Meuron's winning proposal for the Museum of the 20th Century extension in Berlin has been called into question by German architect Wilfried Wang, the co-founder of Berlin-based Hoidn Wang Partner and (since 2002) the O’Neil Ford Centennial Professor at UT Austin's School of Architecture. Wang believes the Swiss firm’s design is severely lacking in both architectural and urbanist respects.
Speaking in The Competition Project (whose editor translated Wang's commentary, which first appeared in the German journal Bauwelt last year), Wang first discusses the project's relationship with its immediate surroundings: Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie (completed in 1968) and the Hans Scharoun’s Berlin Philharmonic concert hall (completed in 1963).
By extending the form of this introverted structure to cover the entire competition site, little or no value is added to the immediate environs. To the contrary, that and the immense surfaces of the facades, right up to the edge of the pedestrian walkways, only serve to diminish the importance of the surrounding buildings. All the trees to the south of the site will disappear, and 90% of the outer walls of the building, regardless of the suggested use of porous brick detailing, are completely closed off.
Next in the firing line was the proposal's program:
The corridors stacked over one another, labeled “Boulevards” by the architects, are connected in the quadrants by smaller corridors and stairs. The metaphor, “Boulevard,” is as misleading as was Le Corbusier’s “rue intérieur.” Boulevards are accessible 24 hours a day as open public spaces. In the evenings these corridors will be closed to the public. Rectangular exhibit areas are placed on three levels—not easily accessible to the visitor as a result of the labyrinth-like circulation plan.
The most extreme anti-urbanistic example honored by the jury with a merit award was OMA’s pyramid-like scheme, completely blocking any relationship between Mies and Sharoun by inserting their own icon in between the two.
By contrast, the shortlisted designs that entered the fray during the first open competition, Wang argues, were "more modern, sensitive, and led one to assume that a different solution would be in store." These notions did filter into the competition's final stage, said Wang, with SANAA and Sou Fujimoto's (both from Japan) less disruptive proposed interventions.
Note: For his Master’s degree in 1981, Wang researched six cultural centers including London’s South Bank Centre, Paris’s Centre Beaubourg and Berlin’s Kulturforum. In 1992 he published a monograph on the work of Herzog & de Meuron.
The annual ritual of the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals that take place simultaneously in Park City, Utah in January have just concluded. Here’s a rundown of films where architecture and design are featured characters. Watch out for these titles as are they are released. (Note: All films were screened at Sundance, unless otherwise noted.)
Columbus is set in this Indiana town that has become a modernist architectural mecca (and is the birthplace of V.P. Mike Pence). The Cummins Engine Company, then run by J. Irwin Miller II, initiated a program where the company paid architects’ fees for public buildings in this small town (population 44,000 in the last census) if selected from a designated list, yielding buildings from architects like Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Roche-Dinkeloo, Robert Venturi, César Pelli, Richard Meier, and Harry Weese.
A magnet for architects to visit, the plot begins when a notable Korean architect is in town to deliver a lecture, only to collapse at the Miller House (Eero Saarinen, architect; Alexander Girard, interiors; Dan Kiley, landscape) in the opening scene. A young woman, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), who grew up in Columbus and works in the library (I.M. Pei, architect), has come to love the architecture, unlike her peers, who barely seem to notice. Casey says of Columbus, “Meth and modernism are really big here” to the Korean architect’s estranged son, Jin (John Cho), who has come to be with his now-comatose father. She takes him around Columbus, often at night, to show him the architecture that moves her. She also tells him that she met architect Deborah Berke when she delivered a lecture in town—Berke designed the Columbus’s Irwin Union Bank in 2006 as well as a building for Cummins in Indianapolis in 2017—who encouraged Casey to go to the University of New Haven, audit her class at Yale (where Berke is now dean) and intern at her office in New York. Casey even quotes Jim Polshek about the healing power of the built form. In the film, architecture symbolizes hope for the future, a utopian vision. The director, Kogonada, made his name as a film critic and maker of “supercuts,” short online videos on cinema history. (See his website for “Kubrick’s One-Point Perspective,” “Auteur in Space” and “Mirrors of Bergman.”)
Abstract: The Art of Design is a new series premiering on Netflix on February 10. Each of the eight episodes focuses on a designer—Bjarke Ingels (architect), Christoph Niemann (illustrator), Es Devlin (stage designer), Ilse Crawford (interior designer), Paula Scher (graphic designer), Platon (photographer), Ralph Gilles (automobile designer) and Tinker Hatfield (Nike shoe designer)—all chosen by Scott Dadich, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. The one shown at Sundance was on Niemann and directed by Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Best of Enemies). The question arises: Is the designer the filmmaker? Is the film about the maker or made by him or her? By taking us inside Niemann’s head and processes with clever animation, they are clearly partners. The title “abstract” refers to taking meaning down to the essence, like Niemann’s explanations with Legos—yellow for a New York City taxi, or several configurations to explain a nuclear family from different members’ point of view, or his many New Yorker covers including one of Donald Trump in U.S. flag motif.
Slamdance presented Aerotropolis, whose title refers to an ambitious urban development project for Taoyuan, a city in northwestern Taiwan, as a major transportation hub for airplanes and ships. However, it has been a bust with an incomplete airport subway link, unaffordable luxury properties laying empty, land sold at wildly inflated prices, and thousands of displaced residents, all accompanied by conflicts of interest and corruption scandals involving government officials overseeing the project.
Allen (Yang Chia-lun) has invested all his inheritance in real estate hoping to cash in on the market bubble created by the Aerotropolis project. But his scheme is a failure as he is unable to find buyers. Although he owns a luxury property, in order to keep it pristine for potential buyers, Allen essentially lives like a homeless person, sleeping in his car and using public restrooms at the airport.
The web series Gente-fied (executive produced by America Ferrara) depicts slices of life in a gentrifying L.A. neighborhood, Boyle Heights, with stories of those struggling with (and adapting to) the changes brought by affluent people moving in and long-term, less-affluent residents facing displacement. The series tries to humanize the issues. In the first vignette, Chris has a taco shop. Mexicans won't buy $3 tacos because they’re too expensive, while whites say the food is so authentic, it’s like they were kidnapped by a cartel. Chris is given a “Mexican” test by his cousin and elders.
Another story depicts Ana, who paints a gay-themed mural on side of bodega for the supremely pleased, new white landlord—to the horror of the staff. Her attempts to appease the shopkeeper are rebuffed, as she fears the mural will scare away her regular customers.
In the third, Pancho runs a bar. New customers want the bar to look like “Frida Kahlo threw up all over it.” The same white landlord (who owns the bodega) raises the rent repeatedly, and when the price doubles, Pancho gives up the bar and washes floors in a bodega with the mural.
In the winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting, Pop Aye, Thana (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) is the once-praised architect of Gardenia Square, a 1990s landmark high-rise in Bangkok. Now that his boss’s son has taken over the firm and is replacing Gardenia with a sleek new skyscraper called Eternity (seen in a slick video), Thana is depressed. Now unkempt and out of place in his office, as well as an unwanted presence by his wife in his own modernist home with an interesting curved front gate and clean lines (complete with a Barcelona chair). He goes on an unexpected road trip with an elephant he believes to be from his childhood—they never forget—through the Thai countryside to his hometown where his childhood home has been sold to developers and replaced with a mundane apartment block.
Another example of sleek development is shown in the Middle East in The Workers Cup, where construction workers from India, Kenya, Ghana, Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Philippines work in Qatar to build the 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium. We see the work camps where they live, the luxury shopping centers they have built (but cannot enter after they open to the public at 10:00 a.m.), and their arduous construction sites. We follow a group who participate in a corporate-sponsored “workers welfare” soccer tournament.
The Nile Hilton Incident, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, is set against the backdrop of Cairo in the days before the Tahrir Square uprising. A wealthy real estate developer of the “New Cairo” is mistakenly accused of the murder of his mistress in the upscale—yet still seedy—hotel of the title just off the square. As we follow Noredin (Fares Fares), a cop who is corrupt but has his limits, around the new and old cityscapes—from the Sudanese immigrant community to the palatial home of the developer—it’s like watching a Graham Green novel.
Winner of Slamdance’s Narrative Feature Audience Award was Dave Made a Maze. During a weekend when his girlfriend, Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) is away, Dave (Nick Thune) decides to build a cardboard fort in the living room; essentially, he is the architect of the maze. On her return, Annie speaks to the unseen Dave inside the maze, who tells her that he is lost inside. She calls a friend for help, who in turn calls a documentary filmmaker and other friends. When they enter, the world inside the maze is far bigger than what appears on the outside, with a seemingly unending string of puzzles and booby traps all cleverly brought to life through the use of cardboard, modest digital effects, and animation. The filmmakers assembled 30,000 square feet of cardboard to build full-scale sets for this fortress-like environment.
After losing her job and boyfriend in New York due to binge drinking, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) moves back to her hometown to discover a strange connection with a monster attacking Seoul, South Korea in Colossal. When she moves, the monster moves. The plot is motivated by the child Gloria’s model of a town: skyscraper, tower, and bridge that is blown away, and then seemingly rescued by her friend Oscar, who then destroys it. As adults, alcohol makes Gloria and Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) into monsters who can destroy this far-off city with their actions.
Berlin Syndrome portrays Australian architectural photographer Clare (Teresa Palmer), who is in Berlin shooting GDR buildings for a planned book. We see examples of her work and traverse the city with her until she meets a handsome English literature teacher, Andi (Max Riemelt), who shows her a Schrebergarten colony, miniature follies on the outskirts of the city with tiny gardens sprinkled with gnomes, windmills, and vegetation, used by middle-class Germans in the summer. He takes her back to his East German-era apartment building with central courtyard, which is largely abandoned except for him…where he then holds her hostage.
In Rememory, Peter Dinklage plays an architectural model-maker turned sleuth.
Chasing Coral, winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary and coming to Netflix, shows how coral reefs are underwater cities and skyscrapers where life can flourish. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on the Northeast coast of Australia is called "the Manhattan of the ocean.” However, the film charts how coral reefs are being imperiled by rising temperatures to their death, first by bleaching the coral white and then disintegrating. In 2016, more than 2/3 of the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef died.
New Frontier is the Sundance section devoted to art and technology. The most interesting of the VR experiences were Heroes, Melissa Painter’s exploration of dancers in a movie palace and the historic Ace Hotel in downtown L.A., and Saschka Unseld’s Dear Angelica, which creates a drawn, magical universe where we explore loved ones who have died. Also of interest was Hue, an immersive environment of a color-blind man who we help to see color, and the installation Pleasant Places, which displayed Van Gogh’s Provence landscapes.Films and Projects:Abstract: The Art of Design, Morgan Neville, director
Aerotropolis, Li Jheng-neng, director/screenwriter
Berlin Syndrome, Cate Shortland, director
Chasing Coral, Jeff Orlowski, director -
Colossal, Nacho Vigalondo, director
Columbus, Koganada, director/screenwriter
Dave Makes a Maze, Bill Watterson, director/co-screenwriter
Dear Angelica, Saschka Unseld, director
Gente-Fied, Marvin Lemus, director
Heroes, Melissa Painter, director
Hue, Nicole McDonald, KC Austin, Tay Strathairn, directors
The Nile Hilton Incident, Tarik Saleh, director
Pleasant Places, Quayola, director
Pop Aye, Kirsten Tan, director/screenwriter
Rememory, Mark Palansky, director/co-screenwriter
The Worker Cup, Adam Sobel, director
If we're being honest, the last few weeks of 2016 were a bit horrible (particularly on the election front) but the entire year wasn't all bad! As we head into its final days, here are our favorite feel-good stories to put that warm and fuzzy feeling back in your heart. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.)
Peter Zellner launches Free School of Architecture
Architect Peter Zellner's new project, the Free School of Architecture (FSA), will launch next summer as a “tuition and salary free” school seeking to “explore the edges of architectural education.” Read AN's exclusive Q+A with Zellner here.
L.A.’s expanding transit is challenging the city’s auto-urbanism
In the four years since the first spur of the Expo opened, developers have begun to wake to the untapped market for transit-oriented development along the corridor, signaling a shift not only in the ways in which Angelenos get to and from work, but where and how they live their lives beyond business hours. Now that the line has been completed, development along the western length of the corridor has sped up.#SWA: Scalies with Attitude
A new website that allows users to download scale figures for architectural renderings, but these aren't your average figures—all races, ages, and body types are represented. Shout out to Just Nøt The Same for making representation in architecture matter.
Passive-Aggressive design: When sustainability shapes architecture
Today, architects are more concerned with sustainability than ever, and new takes on old passive techniques are not only responsible, but can produce architecture that expresses sustainable features through formal exuberance. We call it “passive-aggressive.”
Chicago's South Side gets a boost
Artist Theaster Gates is getting $10.25 million to grow a network of art institutions. Youth on the South Side will benefit from a coordinated effort between four major donors, as well as a few private philanthropists.
The modular robotic home furniture from MIT's Media Lab will help you get the most of your shoebox apartment. Check out the video, above.
buildingcommunityWORKSHOP seeks to improve the livability and viability of communities through thoughtful design. Here's how.
This water is so wet
When downtown Lexington, Kentucky held a competition to revitalize and re-pedestrianize its concrete, car-driven downtown, New York–based SCAPE Landscape Architecture chose to reveal and celebrate its geology.Social Impact Design: The don’t be a Dick edition
For some, it’s a motto to live by. One New York City–based nonprofit would like architects to design by it, too.
New York City bike lane art scores high points with videogame references
The New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program partnered this spring with nonprofit New York Cares to paint two bike lane barriers in styles that will appeal to true 90s kids.
Doing it Right: Ricardo Bofill’s Postmodern La Muralla Roja stars as backdrop for Martin Solveig music video
Martin Solveig is often partial to pomo imagery in his music videos. For the French artist’s latest hit Do It Right (featuring Tkay Maidza), the accompanying music video is set at the La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) in Alicante, southeast Spain. Designed by Catalan postmodernist Ricardo Bofill, the 1973 building made arguably as big of a splash in the industry as Solveig does in his music video.
JGMA wins Chicago Neighborhood Development Award, immediately donates prize money
As part of the 22nd annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), Chicago-based JGMA’s El Centro were awarded Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Excellence in Community Design. During moving his acceptance speech, JGMA lead Juan Moreno brought the 1500-person crowd to its feet, and many to tears, as he explained his plan for the award money.
LEGO brutalist buildings (of course)
Berlin-based LEGO enthusiast Arndt Schlaudraff is using plastic—not concrete—blocks to recreate miniature works of brutalist architecture. Using only white bricks and aided by their orthogonal nature, Schlaudraff is able to perfect the clean finishes, crisp lines, and massing often found in Brutalist architecture.
It wouldn’t be an end of year wrap-up without a look at this year’s hottest interior designs. AN Interior is published three times per year by The Architect’s Newspaper and features the top projects, products, designer profiles, and more. Check out the best of AN Interior below! (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.)In and Outdoors
As people continue to choose urban environments over the lush expanse of the countryside, access to outdoor space has become a luxury amenity for both commercial and residential spaces. Take a look at some of the best vertical gardens, over-sized balconies, expanded courtyards, and green roofs from across the nation. Kitchen Confidential
When Daniel Boulud, one of America’s leading chefs, decided to renovate his 2,500 square-foot flat atop his flagship restaurant at 65th and Park Ave., he called in Stephanie Goto to turn his seemingly regular kitchen setup into a culinary studio fit for a maestro.All of the Light
In a rare Manhattan home that receives sunlight from all sides, Bryan Young, principal of New York-based Young Projects, devised a stainless-steel screen that can be moved from one side of the Gerken Residence to another, allowing guests to have more restricted or open views. The screen’s design mirrors what Young described as the “plaster core,” a textured volume that houses the back-of-house programmatic elements, which allows the rest of the apartment to be so open.What’s that? It’s Design, BitchesAN Interior took a look at L.A.-based multidisciplinary firm, Design, Bitches, whose keen and self-described interest in pop seeps into their practice from every angle. Check out how co-founders Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Rudolph have seamlessly merged architecture, interior design, and graphic design to create some of L.A.’s trendiest spots.Making Design Easy
Do you need to furnish a hotel or a new restaurant? Just call Aito—the latest venture from some of the minds behind Scandinavian design giants Flexhouse, Hem, and One Nordic. Their new company gives designers access to a network of manufacturers that Aito's founders have built through previous endeavors to produce high-quality furniture. Ask Aito to make your product. And then if you want to sell your new product, just ask Aito again.The Finnish Line
What happens when two siblings want to build the ultimate eco-friendly home? The Atelier House, located in the woods just 30 miles outside of Helsinki. The brother-sister duo of California and Finland-based Atelje Sotamma used digital fabrication and construction technology to leave a light footprint on the land, to make the infinitely customizable structures of their dream home a reality. Virtual Reality, Minus the Virtual
Japanese art collective teamLab debuted an interactive installation this fall that’s like virtual reality without the headset. Twenty different immersive experiences were assembled within a single 20,000 square-foot space in the heart of Silicon Valley for this interactive art extravaganza that sought to make virtual reality a bit more social.
The 9th Annual Berlin Biennale, The Present In Drag, had much less to do with drag than it did with interior design. The exhibition broke with tradition by acting as a platform for artists to perform the present their work and tease out the contradictions and confusing realities of contemporary culture. There were also a lot of urinals in strange places. Stairway to Heaven
When Square moved into the old Bank of America data center in San Francisco, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania-based Bohlin Cywinski Jackson went all out to transform the space from miserable and windowless to open, spacious, modern, and fit for a modern tech company. They might have removed all the cooling towers, but this office is still super chill.Double Trouble
The 300-square-foot exhibition space known as Jai & Jai Gallery has become a home for L.A.’s young creatives. Check out some of the coolest projects coming out of the gallery.
These days it seems there are tri- and biennials (or biennales, for all you sophisticates) popping up in cities all over: In addition to the venerable, alternating art and architecture biennials in Venice, in recent years architects and artists have convened in Shenzen and Bejing; Lisbon, Berlin, and Oslo; Chicago and soon, Columbus, Indiana. Now, the enterprising tentacular reach of international artists and designers, aided by global warming, are moving their skip-a-year shows to a new locale—Antarctica.
The just-launched Antarctic Biennial, which artist-founder Alexander Ponomarev is calling an "international socio-cultural phenomenon," will take 100 participants by vintage research vessel to the southernmost continent in March 2017 to mull over "shared spaces" like oceans, outer space, and of course, the antarctic. The idea has crossover appeal: In 2014 Ponomarev founded the Venice Architecture Biennale’s first supranational pavilion, featuring 15 architects. The pavilion returned the following year, for art, and again in 2016 for architecture with ANTARCTICA: RE-CYCLICAL, featuring work by Asymptote co-founder Hani Rashid.
As announced this month at Art Basel Miami Beach, Berlin-based architect Gustav Duesing and artist Sho Hasegawa won the Biennial's open call and will join other explorers on the expedition next year.
Below, the Antarctic Biennial–produced video, complete with foghorns and rapid-fire closed captioning, pretty much says it all:
Learn more about the polar biennale here.
Questions of environment, ecology, and climate have never more intensely occupied the cultural zeitgeist. According to editors Christophe Girot and Dora Imhof of the ETH Zurich, as scarcity, ruin, and a siege mentality drove the functionalism that dominated architecture of the post-war period, the profession of landscape architecture is still in the midst of responding to a decades-long environmental crisis, and has produced similarly functionalist design. They suggest (as Elizabeth Meyer has for years in her Sustaining Beauty writings) that recent landscape architectural production is too highly conditioned by analytics, abstracted from site, and producing works that don’t rise above functionalist responses to an environment in peril.
Thinking the Contemporary Landscape, a 17-essay collection, attempts to set up a discourse between opposing ideologies, such as science and memory, power and territory, fact and myth, in order to present an all-encompassing theory of contemporary landscape practice. While this endeavor ultimately frays, revealing the unlikelihood (or frankly, undesirability) of such unification, the book itself is a must-read for landscape architects and urbanists. The editors wittingly construct a discourse about a schism in modes of practice, a reaction perhaps to the dominance in recent years of landscape urbanism and its hybrids. Despite the foregrounding of an environment in peril, they react to scientific positivism by advocating for a return to aesthetics, poetics, myth, and meaning. The current volume suggests other new identities. If we are to believe Charles Waldheim, landscape architect equals urbanist. Waldheim and James Corner in particular are intent on fomenting this shift in perception; beseeching practitioners to take control of urban design territory (presumably, before the architects and urban planners beat them to it).
Girot’s essay laments the modes of visualization epitomized by the “layer-cake” approach of Ian McHarg, author of the 1969 Design with Nature. He suggests that years of design with 2-D maps and collage have effectively broken down landscape thinking into abstract, and ultimately, meaningless, layers. Girot argues that the results of this diagrammatic thinking have stripped design of character, of local connections, and ultimately, of meaning.
As a counterpoint, Corner argues for the preeminence of the plan, composite layers, and collage, suggesting they have the capacity to become “engendering machines” of “rich and unpredictable interactions,” a method that comes from ecology itself. Corner plays both ends of the spectrum, at once advocating for performance and form. In a mediated (and ultimately modest) position, Corner’s conception of “format” is hardly memorable. In the context of design reviews as long as six years ago, Corner declared that the University of Pennsylvania was about form and aesthetics, and Harvard was about performance. This dissonance of Corner’s recent commentary with his earlier writings manifests as some subconscious and uncoordinated id-war, a shift away from the working landscape and toward the “pictorial impulse” he earlier reviled (in New Operations and the Eidetic Landscape).
Recalling David Gissen’s Subnatures, Vittoria Di Palma’s intriguing discussion of aesthetics engages the wasteland as site of primal disgust and ultimately, subversive aesthetics. She revisits the picturesque and its power to give “a new prominence to aversive landscape,” (a topic explored by Robert Smithson in 1973’s Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape), an apt aesthetic history to sample when theorizing the entropy, asymmetry, and gnarliness of the Anthropocene.
Other contributors reject the editors’ prompt of aesthetics altogether. Notably, Kongjian Yu, a practitioner of ecological design in China, argues powerfully for landschaft or the working landscape, suggesting that “the quality and beauty of the landscape has been detached from the notion of a holistic land system for living and survival, and has now become high art landscape design exclusively for the pleasure of the urban elite.” In a similar vein, Saskia Sassen’s critique eviscerates the blunt hand of capitalism that is currently playing out in the form of global land acquisition.
Rather than a clear way forward, the diversity of this volume evidences a fraught world in need of urban design leadership, solutions for the anxious environment of climate change, and rethinking the future of landscape’s territory and meaning in the 21st century.
The annual December Miami art week has come to a close and the dealers, collectors, and artists have packed up their wares and headed home for another year.
The centerpiece fair Art Basel, its next door tented neighbor Design Miami, and the nearly twenty other shows will likely be already thinking about 2017. But for the collectors and audience, it’s also time to go through our telephone camera images and remember what stood out and still looks good a day later on a computer screen. There are, of course, scores of art and design works at these fairs to interest an architect who wants to be inspired, educated, or seduced by visual eye candy. In retrospect, the objects and images that stood out to an architect's eye are really too numerous to mention but here are few highlights worth spending more time reviewing.
The best single image to this architect's eye was surely Thomas Struth’s chromogenic print Schaltwerk 1 (2016) from Berlin at Marian Goodman Gallery, but there were dozens of other photographs that stood out, including Gordon Parks's Untitled, Mobile (1956) that depicts a sign reading “For Sale Lots for Colored…” and Nicola Lopez’s photo and hand-drawn image on a wall of an imaginary building rising like a modern totem. The print image that most fits the dark fears of today's racial conflict is perhaps James Casebere’s Vestibule (2016) for Sean Kelly Gallery; the object that raises the potential of playful fears is from Austrian Erwin Wurm in his Fat House Moller/Adolf Loos (2013) from Cristina Guerre Gallery.
This year's fair had few sculptural objects for an architect's enjoyment, but American Brutalism (1978) by Marlon de Azambuja from Brazil (where he was “brought up in a place of full-scale utopias”) is different. It takes architectural “thinking and building” and creates a small scale megastructure of industrial blocks and clamps. It reminds us how powerful the connection between art and architecture can and should be in the gallery and real world.
The first comprehensive retrospective of the work of Hungarian modernist László Moholy-Nagy in 50 years is now on show at the Art Institute of Chicago. Future Present highlights more than 300 works by the prolific artist, designer, and educator. The wide range of work by Moholy includes painting, photography, film, sculpture, advertising, product design, and theater sets. Work in the show spans from when Moholy was a member of the original Bauhaus in Germany through his time as the founder of the New Bauhaus in Chicago.
Future Present includes 38 photomontages, three of Moholy’s enamel “telephone paintings,” the iconic plunging views from the Berlin Radio Tower, and a multimedia installation based on an unfinished work by Moholy. Many of the works come from his time as the head of the “Chicago Bauhaus,” and are brought together for the first time ever. The show is in its second iteration at the Art Institute. The first showing was at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (read our full review here) and it will continue onto the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in mid-February.
After Patrik Schumacher voiced his desire for public and affordable housing to be abolished, protesters have today targeted the office of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) in Clerkenwell, London.
In Schumacher's speech, made earlier this month in Berlin, he argued that state regulations stifle architectural creativity and development while giving tenants of public housing unfair access to city centers. Schumacher also called for 80 percent of Hyde Park to be built upon and for the privatization of all public space, all of which was part of his "urban policy manifesto."
This has not gone down well with activists from Class War and the London Anarchist Federation who protested at around midday (U.K. time) and into the late afternoon outside ZHA's Clerkenwell studio. According to The Architects' Journal (AJ), numbers swelled to around 20 and demonstrators accused Schumacher of "driving the working class out of London." The AJ also reported that shouts of: "Come out Patrik, come out from under that table" were heard. Schumacher, however, is believed to currently be out the country.
Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), Jamie Wilson, an architecture student who works nearby ZHA's office recounted the affair: "Under police surveillance, a few representatives [from the London Anarchist Federation] were speaking on a megaphone. They commented on the ideas raised in P.S.'s World Architecture Festival keynote and their potential outcomes for citizens of London. Following this they addressed the office directly, pointing out that his views should not be taken lightly by his colleagues (who have since issued an open letter distancing themselves from the matter). Issues of their publication "RESISTANCE" were being handed out to passers by."
"What Patrik Schumacher has said is social fascism. If it’s not opposed early on, it will grow and grow […] we as working class people want to stop it right at the beginning," told founder of Class War, Ian Bone (no relation to Ken Bone) to the AJ. "We hope Schumacher will retract his vile views, apologize and get out of the country."
The anger from the protesters is directed at Patrik Schumacher and already ZHA in an open letter rebuked his words, saying: "Patrik Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future."
Olly Wainwright also tweeted a screenshot of an email detailing Rana Hadid, Lord Palumbo, and Brian Clarke's essential disavowal of Schumacher's remarks. (The three are trustees of the Zaha Hadid Foundation and executors of Hadid's estate).
Executors of Zaha Hadid's estate come out all guns blazing against Patrik Schumacher's comments. How much longer will he be in his job? pic.twitter.com/FVHA9yqOfr
— Olly Wainwright (@ollywainwright) November 29, 2016
Schumacher himself has also responded to the furore. "I was hoping to stir a discussion and got much more than what I had bargained for," he said on his Facebook page in an apologetic statement according to Dezeen. "The topics I touched upon turned out to be too touchy to touch at all in any direct or straightforward way, or so it seems." He continued, going on to say: "Like all of us, I dream of a caring, inclusive, diverse society where everybody can flourish and realise his/her potential and nobody is left behind. All I say is inspired by this longing."
Despite ZHA's open letter, according to CLAD Global, a ZHA spokesperson reaffirmed Schumacher's position in the company. They said: “Patrik’s position is certainly not under any threat; he remains our principal. Patrik is currently in Asia, along with other senior members of the practice, for a topping out ceremony.”
Current London Mayor Sadiq Khan however, has not been impressed by Schumacher's comments. "One of our biggest strengths as a city is our diversity, with Londoners from different backgrounds living side by side," he said speaking in London newspaper, the Evening Standard. "So whether these out-of-touch comments were designed to shock or not, anyone who thinks abolishing affordable housing altogether, supporting 'buy-to-leave' empty properties, and building on Hyde Park is the answer to London's housing crisis doesn't understand the first thing about our great city."
The 9th Berlin Biennale, The Present in Drag, is “more rooted in a time than a place,” explained curator Lauren Boyle of the New York–based collective DIS. For this citywide art exhibition, the DIS team wanted to expose the contradictions and sheer spectacle of today’s hyper-networked, content-saturated culture. The exhibition breaks from many past Berlin Biennales, as it does not, on the surface, take an immediate political stance. Instead, it acts as a platform for artists to perform the present, in a sense, caricaturing and parodying it in order to tease out the contradictions and confusing realities of contemporary culture. DIS assembled a list of young artists and collectives, including 69, Cécile B. Evans, Simon Denny, Hito Steyerl, and more to show across five venues in Berlin.
Many of the works confront the Internet and the effect that it has on our lives and the way we create our identities. Three of the works explicitly deal with architecture, and how it is being affected by changes in technology and new social cues in an evolving world.
The first and most outwardly architectural is “#3” by architect Shawn Maximo. In collaboration with German kitchen- and bath-fixture manufacturer Dornbracht—famous for its ongoing forward-thinking collaborations with artists since 1996—Maximo created a room based on the idea of a “comfort station” where you can get all the comforts of home, such as going to the bathroom, getting a drink, or taking a nap…but in the Kunste-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art. In the installation, a squat toilet, a kitchen sink, a large-screen monitor with digital videos and illustrations, and light boxes illuminated with images of nature create a place where the most intimate, private ritual collides with a social gathering space—a place for both comfort and information. The title, “#3” suggests a new way of thinking about the bathroom as a place where maybe you can use the toilet while your friend washes dishes and watches a movie. Maximo wanted to tackle some of the taboos and boundaries that we hang on to despite their lack of usefulness today. “The bathroom is a place where there is a lot of potential to make more of an impact in terms of design and aesthetic,” he explained.
Another installation at the Kunste-Werke is “ARCHITECTURE,” a long, thickened wall that incorporates six nooks filled with pillows, by London-based åyr. These cozy spaces are outfitted with outlets for phone charging and are meant to challenge our assumptions of “openness” and “crossing boundaries” common to both the sharing economy and corporate architectural discourse. The work also makes reference to Rem Koolhaas’s Berlin Wall studies and Testo Junkie by Paul B. Preciado, which conflates spaces of protection and incarceration.
Completing the trifecta of architectural, boundary-challenging works is a deconstructed showroom apartment in the Akademie der Kunste by Christopher Kulendran Thomas titled “New Eelam.” In the apartment, a video explains the concept of a new app that would utilize the sharing economy to introduce users to a network of luxury communal housing units. The app—named after the failed neo-Marxist movement in Eelam, Sri Lanka—breaks out of traditional borders, operating outside the traditional power networks of late capitalist, neo-colonial influence. By establishing a collectively owned network of housing inside the existing system, Kulendran Thomas hopes to create a new way of living through the “luxury of communalism rather than private property.”
Combined, the three artworks attempt to make sense of the architectural implications of the political and technological forces that are swirling around us, but are hard to pin down in an architectural context. Contemporary art succeeds where architecture struggles in this exploration, perhaps because art can more adeptly capture these subtle forces not necessarily embedded in actual buildings.
One of the world's top architecture firms has entered a public row with one of its partners.
On November 17, Patrik Schumacher, a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and renowned proponent of parametricism, took the stage at the World Architecture Forum in Berlin to deliver a speech that shocked some: Attacking government regulation and bureaucracy, he described an eight-point plan that called for the privatization of public space, the elimination of government-issued land use policies, and the abolishment of all social, affordable, and public housing, among other similar goals. In the speech, he decried how such laws, regulations, and practices stifle architectural creativity and development while giving tenants of public housing unfair access to city centers. "All top-down bureaucratic attempts to order the built environment via land use plans are pragmatically and intellectually bankrupt," he said, according to Dezeen.
Schumacher has made similar statements in the past, though with less forcefulness. Last August, he toldThe Architect's Newspaper (AN) that "We at ZHA see society’s development differently and I’m willing to talk about my optimism for more market-based organization processes and entrepreneurial solutions to societal problems. Solutions to maybe what we can perceive to be certain economic statements and stagnation in recent years."
Earlier this morning, ZHA published this letter, which AN has reproduced below:
It remains unclear exactly who authored the piece, or who among the firm's members, trustees, partners, etc. pushed for its publication. AN will continue to cover this story as it evolves.
UPDATE: Oliver Wainwright of the The Guardian has tweeted this:
Executors of Zaha Hadid's estate come out all guns blazing against Patrik Schumacher's comments. How much longer will he be in his job? pic.twitter.com/FVHA9yqOfr