The spectacular demolition of the high-rise Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in 1972 has been described as "the day Modernism died," but a very different dynamic played out across the Atlantic. As documented in a beautiful new book by architect and historian Mark Swenarton, in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, London saw the creation of a wide variety of low-rise, high-density public housing projects by young architects who adapted Modernist design idioms to the era's intense need for low-cost housing. Focusing on the architectural output of single north London borough, the richly detailed and lushly produced new book, called Cook's Camden: The Making of Modern Housing, documents in vivid detail the design and construction of thousands of affordable homes in Camden, one of London's wealthiest and most historic neighborhoods. Created between 1965 and 1980 under the direction of Camden's visionary chief architect Sydney Cook, the projects described in Mark Swenarton's magisterial book constitute what he describes as "not just the last great output of social housing... but also arguably the most concentrated architectural investigation into urban housing undertaken in the last 50 years." In the foreword to the book, Columbia University historian Kenneth Frampton concurs, describing Cook's Camden as "an exceptionally thorough documentation and analysis of British achievements in the field of low-rise, high-density housing.... part and parcel of this international movement towards achieving denser, anti-suburban, proto-ecological patterns of land settlement." At the heart of Cook's Camden is the work of New York-born architect Neave Brown, whose social housing projects range in scale and ambition, starting with a small terrace of five raw concrete row houses and ending with Alexandra Road, perhaps the most celebrated architectural scheme in England. Alexandra Road turns its back on the adjacent train tracks to form a protected interior street, with front doors facing out onto a pedestrian-friendly, car-free environment from a ziggurat of stepped apartments, each with its own balcony garden. All of the projects Neave Brown designed for Camden have been protected as national landmarks, and last year, his work earned him even greater honor: a much-belated RIBA Gold Medal, bestowed just before his death at age 88, in large part, thanks to the appreciative attention garnered for him by the author Mark Swenarton, who has been conducting the research for Cook's Camden for more than 12 years. Another designer featured in Cook's Camden is Peter Tabori, whose Highgate New Town complex, located between a large hospital and a Victorian-era cemetery, took inspiration from the dense urbanism of a Tuscan hill town. Like many of the housing schemes described in Cook's Camden, Highgate New Town was first celebrated, then allowed to decline, and in recent years has been revived as one of London's most valuable public-private council estates. A final project described in Cook's Camden, Branch Hill became known as "the country's most expensive council houses." Built on a difficult hillside site in the heart of Hampstead, one of London's most exclusive and expensive residential districts, Branch Hill was designed by architects Gordon Benson and Alan Forsyth, who went on to design the acclaimed Museum of Scotland. In keeping with the goal of maximizing green space, the architects took full advantage of the sloping site to create extensive private roof gardens. For present-day architects or developers looking to "solve" the affordable housing crisis, perhaps the most valuable chapter covers the smaller-scale infill schemes that Swenarton calls "urban dentistry." The projects described and illustrated in this section include Neave Brown's first small-scale effort, on which he joined with fellow early 1960s student architects Michael and Patty Hopkins, to develop, design and build a five-unit terrace of supremely detailed modern homes on a tight urban site. Another commission went to Edward "Ted" Cullinan, who designed a five-story mix of family duplexes and smaller one-bedroom apartments, composed with contextualist flourishes that put it among London's first postmodern buildings. Along with lush production quality, hundreds of vintage and contemporary photographs and carefully catalogued references, one of the many valuable features of Cook's Camden is a gazetteer and map of all the properties and projects studied in the book, which may well inspire readers to take a trip to London to see these fine designs and inspiring examples of municipal success. In a final section of Cook's Camden, the author digests the era's seismic changes and draws three important lessons for today's designers, planners and builders: one, recognize that the street is the basis for urban housing; two, understand that designing urban housing demands attention not only to physical form but also to the social relationships these forms may engender; finally, and perhaps most importantly, that designers must use all their abilities–"analytical and visionary, rational and imaginative, practical and poetic, to provide something better than what is currently being built around us." Based in London and New York, Jamie Jensen is a writer and advocate for public space and urban sustainability. Cook's Camden: The Making of Modern Housing Lund Humphries $69.51 (hardcover)
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Giant, inflatable dome will host a week-long Democracy Lab at the Brooklyn Public Library this summer
From June 11-17, an inflatable bubble that can fit more than one hundred people will rise at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to house the week-long Democracy Lab. The lab is organized by the Brooklyn Public Library, in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance, Storefront for Art & Architecture, and visitBerlin, and will feature workshops and talks on social justice and civic engagement by established community members of Brooklyn and greater New York. The dome, dubbed the Spacebuster, is designed and developed by raumlaborberlin, a collective of eight Berlin-based architects. It was first commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2009 in New York City. The giant dome hatches in the back of a delivery van. People can enter into the space through the passenger door of the van, then walk through to the dome down a ramp. A fan under the ramp generates the air pressure. The Spacebuster is a not only a backdrop for events but also actively participates in them. The translucent membrane acts as a blurred boundary, so pedestrians can look into the events happening inside the billowing urban room. Images can be projected onto the membrane and can be viewed both from the outside and the inside. It can also accommodate tables and chairs, depending on the program taking place inside. Democracy Lab will feature workshops and talks by The New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv, The Simpsons show-runner and writer Mike Reiss and daily guided readings of The New York Times led by community leaders and writers such as the paper’s own critic Wesley Morris, among others. To see the full calendar of scheduled events, check out this link.
The dominant “indoor-outdoor living” narrative that drives so much of Los Angeles’s architecture can seem old and tired, but every now and then a project comes along that presents a new perspective on this classic arrangement. The Terasaki Research Institute (TRI) by Los Angeles–and Sendai, Japan-based architects Atelier Hitoshi Abe (AHA), is such a project. TRI was founded by the late Dr. Paul Terasaki, a University of California, Los Angeles professor and longtime almost-client for AHA whose exciting visions for potential projects could never quite get off the ground, as Hitoshi Abe, AHA principal, explained. One day, Terasaki approached Abe with a realizable commission: new offices for a namesake research institute that would carry on Terasaki’s legacy in the field of modern organ-transplant technology. Terasaki was interested in experimenting with a new brand of semi–al fresco, semipublic architecture that could better engage with the community and support lectures, exhibitions, and other public programs. The doctor tasked AHA with creating a 15,000-square-foot building that could function more like an arcade courtyard than a research lab; AHA responded by connecting street and interior via an outsize internal hallway overlooked by the building’s main programs. The inverted complex is located in Westwood—steps from the UCLA campus—in the shell of an old commercial building sandwiched between an Urban Outfitters and a Sur La Table. There, a plate-glass and stucco facade gives way to a broad foyer that contains a small bookstore filled with daylight and medical texts. Beyond a round desk and up half a flight of steps, the building’s main level unfolds on either side of the internal street, which is proportioned for group gatherings and socializing. The 25-foot-wide hallway runs the length of the building, creating two atrium spaces that are connected along the ground but are interrupted above by a pair of bridges, one containing offices and the other a lounge. The rough stucco-clad walls in the gray atria are populated by seemingly random punched openings. Some of the square apertures are transom-height windows into office and meeting areas; others are waist-level connecting to a single-loaded corridor wrapping the second floor. A tertiary field of smaller squares along these walls conceals air-return grilles. A translucent, double-membrane PTFE roof system supported by a lightweight metal tension structure encloses the space. The hub-and-spoke design leaves room at the top of each atrium for an oculus, which the architects wrapped in reflective metal. The mirror-finish oculi reflect different kinds of light and views into the space depending on the time of day, including twisted vistas of the surrounding city with its postmodern condominium and office towers. Beyond the second sky bridge sits a serene presentation room that functions like a gallery and is oriented around a large LED screen that shows a rotating selection of electronic art and media. Abe explained that he and Terasaki came together hoping not just to bring the public into the institute, but to extend the life of the street into the offices “so researchers could look with interest into their own building.”
After a major, failed expansion attempt a few years ago, the Frick Collection, that venerable Upper East Side museum and library, revealed its latest renovation plans last month. The Frick tapped Selldorf Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle to bump up the landmarked building's footprint by ten percent, while sinking most of the rest of the program underground. Now, a few days before the architects present their ideas to the city's Landmarks commission for approval, more details on the addition and renovation have emerged. When the Frick went public with Selldorf's design in April, reactions were mixed, but mostly positive. The tallest addition will grow two stories from the building’s music room, while an addition adjacent to the library will top out at the same height as that building. The above-ground additions should preserve sightlines into John Russell Page's gated garden, while a below-ground auditorium and galleries will add give the Frick more space for events and shows. A major goal is to improve the flow between rooms, which will be achieved in part by linking the new second floor galleries with the enlarged lobby and the auditorium beneath the garden. That space is badly needed. The institution is mounting more exhibitions and welcoming more visitors than any time in its history, but its building is strained at the seams. The Frick says its galleries are too packed, and the lightless ones below ground are less appealing to visitors. Wheelchair users must take an unglamorous ride in the service elevator to reach the main entrance. Workers in the conservation areas, meanwhile, labor in dark, cramped offices far from the service elevator. And there's nowhere to get coffee—unlike most other museums, the Frick doesn't have a cafe. Before building out below-ground spaces to make way for a 220-seat auditorium, a larger reception hall, and an upper lobby, the Frick plans to document and restore Page's design. The sculptures, reflecting pool, and north wall will be dismantled and rebuilt (the latter with a different design), while the paths will be restored to their dimensions with new gravel. According to the presentation submitted to Manhattan Community Board 8, which held a public meeting on the plans earlier this month, the garden's plants and trees will be "retained to the extent possible or replaced with appropriate species." As part of the Upper East Side Historic District and as an individual landmark, any changes to the Frick have to be approved by the city's Landmarks commission. Carrère and Hastings, the same architects behind New York Public Library's 42nd Street main branch, designed the original, now-landmarked Beaux Arts home for the Frick family in 1914, as well as an attached library in 1924. (That structure was demolished a decade later to make room for a museum and library conversion by John Russell Pope.) These buildings, plus 1977 and 2011 additions by Bayley Van Dyke Poehler and Davis Brody Bond, respectively, comprise the majority of the significant, still-visible work on the site until now. Although the exterior was landmarked in 1973, the interiors not protected. In mid-May, CB8's Landmarks Committee rejected Selldorf's designs (PDF), while the full board of CB8 couldn't come to a consensus on the appropriateness of the expansion when it considered the matter a few days later. Although community board votes are only advisory and non-binding, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) takes their thoughts into account when it makes its decisions on whether to modify a landmark. Overall, most preservationists prefer Selldorf's design to the Davis Brody Bond scheme the museum proposed a few years ago, but there's concern that interior renovations will sacrifice period interiors like Russell Pope's music room for white-box galleries and splashier events spaces. There's also growing concern around the Page garden. Current plans scuttle northern end of the 4,100-square-foot green space, which features trees of different species planted against a wall. Here's what landscape architect Laurie Olin had to say about Page's work in a recent letter to the Frick trustees that was printed by landscape preservationists at The Cultural Landscape Foundation (we've excerpted the letter, below):
I have always liked this garden and admired Page. It is inconceivable to propose to eliminate the northern planting above and beyond the wall that Page used to give an illusion of depth and of a garden beyond it to the north. The pear trees, wall, planter, and door are key contributing elements of the garden. His famous asymmetrical planting of four trees of different species plays off not just against the rectangular basin but also this uniform layered plane of green that one thinks the door goes into. It’s a thought worthy of Borromini if he’d had a green thumb, and a mark of Page’s genius and subtlety. These elements are not expendable, but the conclusion of a remarkably witty and brilliant solution to a difficult problem, that of a tiny urban space hemmed in by buildings – one that has challenged designers and artists since Roman times. I have on numerous occasions in my teaching graduate students in landscape architecture and garden design over the decades used this as an example of how a skillful designer can overcome the awkward problem of such a small space in a dense urban setting. I urge you to save your Russell Page garden, the whole garden, not just some of it.In its testimony to the LPC, historic preservation advocacy organization the Historic Districts Council (HDC) suggested the shelf above the north garden wall, now festooned with trees, be maintained to add interest to the library's rear wall. Meanwhile, in a long letter to the LPC chair, Henry Clay Frick's great-granddaughter Martha Frick Symington Sanger wrote expressed disappointment in the "over-the-top architectural expansion that promises to alter the landmarked buildings and severely compromise the historic Russell Page Garden [sic]." For those who want to have their say on the Frick, the LPC is hearing from the museum, the architects, and the public at its May 29 meeting. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m., and the exact time should be posted on the agency's website today. At meetings with preservationists at the Frick in May, HDC Executive Director Bankoff confirmed that Selldorf Architects principal Annabel Selldorf said the designs were "schematic"—typically, architects seek the LPC's approval when their designs are final. While the Frick has done a "very good job" at community outreach, given the complexity of the proposal, "I would be shocked if the LPC approved this in one hearing," Bankoff said.
As the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale gets ready to welcome visitors, AN has compiled a list of the 65 national pavilions that will open to the public on Thursday, May 24. Although two countries have canceled their pavilions, the remaining projects are all an interesting take on the biennale's theme of “freespace”; how we use, negate, and integrate open spaces into our daily lives. This year’s Biennale will also mark the first show for these six countries. Each of the pavilions mentioned below have been represented in their teams’ own words. National Pavilion Events: Albania: Zero Space Location: Arsenale “This pavilion is composed of architects and artists, devoted to the dynamism of everyday life in the ground floors of Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It is a moment of reflection of Tirana's lifestyle and the future of Albania's capital city. Visitors live through the experience of Albania's capital city the same way as its citizens.” Antigua & Barbuda Environmental Justice as a Civil Right Location: Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 919 Argentina Vértigo Horizontal Location: Arsenale “Proposes a cross-cutting dialog between geographical spaces, places and architecture. It is an invitation to rethink our territory as a collective construction and see architecture in its capacity to convey unexpected generosity in every project. The collection focus on projects produced since Argentina’s return to democracy, in 1983.” Australia Repair Location: Giardini “Repair addresses the call ‘to stimulate discussion on core architectural values’ and focuses on architecture that integrates built and natural systems to effect repair of the environment through three installation: the first is made of ten thousand plants inside and outside of the Pavilion, including 65 species of Western Plains Grasslands. This component of the exhibition, entitled Grasslands Repair, will serve as a reminder of what is at stake when we occupy land – just one per cent of these threatened species are left in their native ecosystem; an experimental video series, entitled Ground, showcasing fifteen Australian projects that unpack diverse iterations of repair, which will be projected inside the Pavilion. A third installation, Skylight, incorporates lighting to simulate the sun’s energy required to sustain the plants inside the Pavilion. The curators aim to provoke a rethinking of how we value and therefore create the built environment.” Austria Thoughts Form Matter Location: Giardini “Is a plea for the power of architecture as an intellectual analysis of the world and for the freedom to design spaces that are not subject to functional and economic constraints. LAAC, Henke Schreieck and Sagmeister & Walsh are creating a conceptually and materially complex spatial installation which draws together inside and outside, vertical and horizontal, the historic pavilion and the language of contemporary architecture and design. Concepts such as ‘deviation’, ‘atmosphere’ and ‘beauty’ become tangible in a three-part, converging spatial installation.” Bahrain (Kingdom of) Friday Sermon Location: Arsenale Artiglierie “The pavilions curatorial team is composed of Nora Akawi, an architect and researcher based in New York, USA and Amman, Jordan and Noura Al Sayeh an architect based in Bahrain. The pavilion features an installation and research on the ritual of the Friday Sermon and its influence on public space and public opinion. When thinking about free space, and by extension free speech for Arab and Muslim communities, the Friday khuṭbah becomes a key protagonist, especially as state, law, and religion remain as entangled as ever.” Belgium Eurotopie Location: Giardini “Eurotopie, addresses the issues and challenges tackled by the European Union. Despite being the E.U’s principal territorial, physical and symbolic anchorage, the European Quarter in Brussels seems in no way to contribute to a collective European identity. The pavilion also addresses architects and space-makers in considering how the European democratic space can be constructed, and how it can cohabit with Brussels.” Brazil Walls of Air Location: Giardini “Investigates the wall as an element of Brazilian architecture, culture and identity, and envisage in the act of bridging this wall an invitation to coexistence and multiplicity on two design fronts. The first consists of the presentation of ten cartographic designs created based on research with a network of collaborators, consultants and institutions, as a way of visualising the forms of spatial and conceptual separation resulting from the process of urbanisation of Brazil. The second, in an initiative unprecedented in the history of Brazilian participation in the event, focuses on projects chosen through a public selection process. Projects are examples that use architecture as a tool to measure conflict, transitions between public and private domains and connections between different urban fabrics.” Canada Voices of the Land Location: Giardini “On the occasion of the unveiling of a state-of-the-art restoration of the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini, and the celebration of the pavilion’s 60th anniversary, the National Gallery of Canada promotes the exhibition: Canada Builds/Rebuilds a Pavilion in Venice.” Chile Stadium: an event, a building and a city Location: Arsenale “An event of the past, which rendered a city within a building. In its origin, the word stadium is a measure of a running distance between two points. The exhibition narrates such double story interweaved by a plan: that of a building (with its dissimilar uses) and that of a city (with its atomized housing development), overlaid in a single event. The Event – On the 29th of September 1979, this landmark building was filled by 37,000 workers from all over Santiago. The focus of this gathering was not a concert or a sport match, but a massive operative which provided, in a single day, ownership titles to dwellers (pobladores) fixing decades of makeshift land occupation and policies. This day-long massive event organised by the military regime was a day of celebration, of government propaganda and reinforcement of a new popular capitalist scheme. By signing these property titles these former dwellers were also acquiring a debt instrument with specific spatial coordinates, setting a plan of a city where there was no plan” China (People’s Republic of) Building a Future Countryside Location: Arsenale “One of the major challenges facing contemporary built environments is the future of rural ‘development’. In China, the countryside has become a new frontier for experiments in this area, and the country is developing its countryside at a speed and scale unseen in the West. Drawn by the promise of boundless opportunity, architects, artists, developers—as well as capital flow—are converging in rural areas across the nation. The return to pastoral life has long been an ideal of Chinese literary tradition. In modern times, living in rural areas typically involves aspects such as policy, capital, infrastructure, and technology. While modernization and technological progress promise us better lives with modern living conditions, they also, to some extent, sever the link between rural life and tradition.” Croatia Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality Location: Arsenale “Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality is a collaborative site-specific environment conceived by the pavilion curator, Bruno Juričić, with curatorial advice from Branka Benčić. Cloud Pergola is an installation crossing the boundaries of architecture, art, engineering, robotic fabrication and computational models. The exhibition is structured through the interplay of three interventions: Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić, To Still the Eyes by Vlatka Horvat and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović & FoAM.” Cyprus (Republic of) I Am Where You Are Location: Associazione Culturale Spiazzi, Castello 3865 “By highlighting, questioning and then deconstructing sets of binaries, key to cultural perceptions in and about Cyprus, the pavilion disengages from convention. Multiplicities, found in-between these binaries, ‘built/unbuilt, tradition/modernity, Island of Love/place of conflict, immigration/local identity,’ are revealed in the pavilion, allowing unexpected experiences to be celebrated.” Czech and Slovak (Republic) Meetings on Architecture Location: Giardini “A program of encounters It's nothing new under the sun, yet it's necessary to talk about it. Beautiful historical towns, of course not only in the Czech Republic, suffer under the heavy burden of tourists. And the local people suffer also. In the streets of such cities we see empty houses, unnecessary shops, streets people prefer to avoid – just like in socially excluded localities. One such city in our country is Český Krumlov, an example from abroad is Venice. Both cities are among the magnificent treasures included on the UNESCO list, but the only ones who really desire them are the tourists. Tourism is growing into dangerous dimensions." Denmark Collaborative innovations Location: Giardini “The Danish Pavilion exhibition will present a collaborative approach to innovation and illustrate its impact through a handful of very different cases. The cases look at the potentials of working with a number of fields outside the traditional realm of architecture, such as mobility, cultural resilience, housing and computational resource efficiency on a global level. Each of the cases branch multiple fields of knowledge and numerous stakeholders and demonstrates the transformative potential of collaborative efforts as well as architecture’s impact on innovating the built environment. Through large scale installations, including a presentation of the new OMA BLOX building in Copenhagen, the exhibition focuses on ’Collaborative Innovations’. BLOX, represents a framework for the exhibition since it embodies the idea of a freespace for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural innovation. BLOX is the new home of the Danish Architecture Centre and a new international innovation hub.” Egypt The phenomenon of “free” Location: Giardini “The pavilion, curated by architects Islam El Mashtooly and Mouaz Abouzaid, architecture professor Cristiano Luchetti, art director and producer Giuseppe Moscatello, and art director Karim Moussa proposes the theme of a redevelopment of spontaneous commercial spaces across the entire country. The phenomenon of ‘free’, unstructured, often illegal, trading is predominant in many urban and suburban areas. The traditional souk is no longer confined to narrow streets and interstitial spaces of historical areas. Indeed, the space of commerce extends its tentacles seamlessly along the lines of urban streams without any rule. The project for the pavilion focuses on these strategic spaces but also on their content. The trading of ‘roba becciah’ is a large portion of all market activities. Disused items produced and dismissed by consumerist societies are first collected and then stacked in areas to create mono-functional enclaves for future trading.” Estonia Weak Monument Location: Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church “Weak Monument explores the explicit representation of the monument and the implicit politics of everyday architectural forms. Curated by Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa and Tadeáš Říha, the exhibition takes over the former Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church in Venice with pavement and a monument-like concrete wall that divides the exhibition space in two. As visitors cross through the wall, they'll find a collection of photos, drawings, and models of Estonian and European examples of “weak monuments”. They will then encounter a ‘wall altar.’” Finland Mind-Building Location: Giardini “The Finnish pavilion transforms the Alvar Aalto-designed space into a temporary library. Titled ‘Mind-Building’, the exhibition explores the development of Finnish library architecture and showcases Finland’s leading role in developing the libraries of the future. The exhibition is conceived by the commissioner Hanna Harris, director of Archinfo Finland, and curator Dr Anni Vartola, architecture critic and architectural theorist, who present the public library as a case-study of ‘modern monumentality’ and reminds us of the values of the civic society and the power of education and knowledge.” France Infinite Places Location: Giardini “This year, in its 16th edition, the International Architecture Exhibition seeks to remind us of a dimension of architecture no doubt somewhat neglected, and yet so fundamental: ‘thoughtfulness.” Our concerns focus so often on the built object, or one intended to be built, that we often underestimate the importance of this frame of mind that goes beyond needs or the desires of others. Freespace needs to be a place of opportunities, a democratic space, un-programmed and open to unforeseen uses, as yet undefined, such that buildings create new ways of sharing and participating for people over time, long after the architect has left the scene… places that are in some sense infinite in possibility.” Germany Unbuilding Walls Location: Gardini “The exhibition responds to current debates on nations, protectionism and division. In the German Pavilion, GRAFT and Marianne Birthler will take the parallel as an opportunity to explore the effects of division and the process of healing as a, special focus will be given to outstanding examples of urban and architectural design that address aspects of division and integration. An example project is Checkpoint Charlie. This Location: was the third crossing point after Checkpoint Alpha and Checkpoint Bravo between the American and Soviet sectors. After the construction of the Wall and the tank confrontation shortly afterwards in October 1961, it became, alongside the Brandenburg Gate, the most symbolically potent image of the Cold War. A current competition initiated by the new owner of the site will elaborate a new vision for the Location: of Checkpoint Charlie in conjunction with the Senate. A Museum of the Cold War is planned that will be run by the State of Berlin.” Greenland Greenland's magnificent nature “Danish architect Dorte Mandrup will be exhibiting at the main exhibition of the Biennale Architettura 2018, and with over 200 square metres at her disposal, is one of the most comprehensive installations on display at this year's Architecture Biennale. The forthcoming Icefjord Centre in Greenland is the inspiration source behind a large sensuous exhibition, designed to give Biennale's visitors an authentic experience of the magnificent and harsh nature in Greenland.” Holland Work, Body, Leisure Location: Giardini Bed-In Interviews With Beatriz Colomina #BED, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 4pm Visions of the Future With Mark Wigley, Liam Young, and respondent Amal Alhaag #LOCKER ROOM, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 12pm Work Body Leisure | Official Opening WELCOMING WORDS 4pm – 4:30pm SONGS FOR HARD-WORKING PEOPLE A project by Noam Toran, composed and performed by Remco de Jong and Florentijn Boddendijk. This afternoon concert launches the official soundtrack of the 2018 Dutch Pavilion. 4:30pm – 5pm Great Britain Island Location: Giardini “The curatorial team, Caruso St John Architects working in collaboration with artist Marcus Taylor, responds to the theme of Freespace with the construction of a new public space on the roof of the British Pavilion. This elevated piazza offers visitors to the Giardini a place to meet and a unique vantage point looking out across the Lagoon. At the centre of this new public space, the peak of the Pavilion’s roof protrudes up through the floor, suggesting both an island and a sunken world beneath. Below, the doors of the Pavilion are open to visitors, but the building is empty of exhibits.” Greece Utopian Visions of Learning Location: Giardini “‘The Faculty of Athens,’ will focus on the structure of the educational commons – from Plato’s Academy to recent college designs. It re-imagines the Greek Pavilion adopts the architectural trope of the stepped panorama to create an energetic house of discussion and trade. Inside of this panorama, architectural fashions depicting instructional commonplace areas from throughout historical past and all over the world, each learned and unrealized, will create a box of architectural specimens that fills the pavilion in all instructions.” Guatemala Stigma Location: Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, 4118 Cannaregio “The Guatemala pavilion investigates space with models all linked to a sense of utopia and lexical incompleteness, that reflect and try to give an answer to the language crisis brought by the postmodern age. The exhibition proposes a sort of ‘Virtual City,’ understood as the articulation of urban systems designed according to new modes of collective intelligence.” Hungary Liberty Bridge – New Urban Horizons Location: Giardini “In 2016, one of the oldest Danube-bridges of Budapest, the Liberty Bridge became car-free due to an infrastructural development in the neighborhood. Citizens, mostly millennials immediately put the road and tram tracks to creative use and re-imagined the historic place. The construction turned into street furniture, hosting picnics, grill-parties, yoga classes. The curators choose this episode to tackle fundamental issues of urban development: What does a free public space represent today? How can a bridge or any built structure act as a medium of freedom? How can we change our own identity by transforming our city?” Indonesia Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness Location: Arsenale “Here emptiness is meant as an active entity; a singularity that functions as a prominent agency in life and at the same time, as a void which demands to be conquered. This conquest expresses in various ritualization. Emptiness is a concept strongly rooted in Indonesian’s Architecture. This project argues that the concept of Emptiness that has been practice in Indonesia is the approach to liberate spatial experience and tactility.” Ireland The Free Market Location: Asenale “The Irish Pavilion is centered around the theme of the Free Market. The exhibition will explore the common space of market towns in Ireland, their gradual demise and importance for economic and social engagement. The pavilion will be transformed into a rural Irish market square, complete with market stalls, goods, soundscape and a daily newspaper.” Israel In Status Quo: Structures of Negotiation Location: Giardini “Through the lens of architecture, the exhibition explores the status quo mechanism that was established in the 19th century to regulate conflicts and facilitate co-existence in the Holy places. In the exhibition, visitors move through five holy sites that highlight Israel’s fragile system of cohabitation and disputed territoriality. Each holy site raises different phenomenon and their highly uncertain territorial claims over centuries has made them some of the most significant and challenging sites to reexamine within this context. The Israeli Pavilion team chose 10 of the most captivating architectural proposals of the Western Wall plaza over time, including those by Louis Kahn, Isamu Noguchi, Moshe Safdie and Superstudio. For each plan, the team created custom-made, 3-D printed models. In front of the models, a live stream of the Western Wall precinct will be screened, highlighting the dichotomy between past and future.” Italy Arcipelago Italia “Projects for the future of the country’s interior territories” focuses on the urban space that runs along the Italian ridge, from the Alpine Arch, along the Apennines, up to the Mediterranean. An itinerary with a hundred stages, suggested by small, high quality architectural projects realized in recent years and the result of a call promoted by the curator, in dialogue with examples taken from history, with the relationship between architecture and landscape; a journey into the future, investigating the current situation and proposing a reflection on contemporary issues such as the urban periphery, the earthquake aftermath, brownfields, railways and mobility; five experimental projects in as many areas of Italy.” Japan Architectural Ethnography from Tokyo: Guidebooks and Projects on Livelihood Location: Giardini “The Japan Pavilion’s curated presentation showcases over 40 exhibitors, ranging from university design studios and architectural offices to contemporary artistic practices from all over the world from the last twenty years.” Korea Spectres of the State Avant-garde Location: Giardini “The Korean Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia will present Spectres of the State Avant-garde, an imagined archive of the Korea Engineering Consultants Corp. (KECC), a technical consultancy for architecture and civil engineering established by the government in 1963. Spectres of the State Avant-garde seeks to reconstruct a hidden narrative about the state’s paradoxical pursuit of a utopian vision for society through oppressive government policy. KECC enjoyed an unparalleled dominance over Korea’s architecture and construction industry, and the breadth of its activities reached beyond civil engineering and infrastructural projects to include urban master plans and expo pavilions. Their visions at times mimicked the radical architectural experiments of the West but more often assumed a pragmatic attitude in line with the state developmental agenda.” Kosovo The City is Everywhere Location: Asenale “The Pavilion’s concept revolves around the idea of ‘house’ as a compensation for the city. During ‘90s Kosovo Albanians were expelled from all activities of public institutional life because of the political conflicts in ex—Yugoslavia. Due to that Kosovo Albanians created a parallel system of public institutions into their private houses in peripheral areas of the city. The pavilion space, named The City Is Everywhere is a house always on the making and somehow unfinished because of these new additional public functions. The inside represents the outside at the same time. All public life of Albanians during ‘90s for 10 years were provided into these inside private spaces opened by by Kosovo Albanians for public uses. The house became a metaphor for the city—it was a public space / a school / a gallery / a hospital / a shop / a café and a home at the same time. Latvia Together and Apart Location: Arsenale “The Latvian pavilion looks at apartment buildings in relation to architecture’s role in organizing the society. It examines how this architectural typology generates ways of living together and apart — with one another, the market, and the state. During its 100–year–long history, Latvia has undergone several fundamental political and economic transformations that have employed housing as a means of reform. Today, despite being one of the most sparsely populated regions of Europe, nearly two thirds of Latvians live in apartment buildings, which is the highest ratio in Europe.” Lebanon The Place That Remains Location: Arsenale “The project involves a reflection on the built environment through a reflection on the unbuilt land and the possible visions for the future of the national territory and landscape. The focus will be on Nahr Beirut (Beirut River) and its watershed. The project explores the preconditions for architecture through assessing its bedrock and the challenges protagonists face, such as the fragile nature of territory, scarcity of resources and commodification. The format chosen for the project is a combined 3D relief map, landscape photography and video surveillance, while the watershed setting allows its creators to ensure that the resources remain the key focus.” Lithuania The Swamp Pavilion Location: Il Giardino Bianco Art Space (Castello Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 “In a time marked by existential threats of war and climate change, the pavilion highlights the vital urgency of human cohabitation with humans and forms of life. Inaugurated with the launch of live broadcasting programmes on Swamp Radio, The Swamp Space and its extended network will engage audiences in a variety of acoustic space explorations. ‘The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him,’ maintained Bertolt Brecht. Acts of revalorizing the Swamp over solid ground and exploring its complex web of interactions are both conceived as pedagogical exercises by the project’s initiators with aims to transmit possibilities of speaking for the silenced voices of this planet.” Luxembourg The Architecture of a Common Ground Location: Arsenale “Highlights the importance of land and property for architecture and urban planning: privatisation as well as speculation, especially with urban land, has risen dramatically in the past decade. Many European towns and cities, which, like Luxembourg, are under enormous pressure to develop, have virtually run out of building land. The project draws attention to this striking lack of public land with a spatial installation and literally confronts it with projects – tracked down in the architectural history of ideas, flanked by initial research results from the young University of Luxembourg – that make as much public space available as possible over and above the defined programmes. The social and political dimension of architecture is linked to its creative power. The Architecture of the Common Ground puts forward a clear statement that does not mean to deliver universal answers but to show to what extent architects may conceptually react to the privatisation of land. The Architecture of the Common Ground is an appeal to view the unreproducible and indispensable resource of land as a common good, like air and water. “ Macedonia Freeingspace Location: Arsenale – Sale d’Armi Mexico My Art Guide Mexico City Location: Arsenale “A paper guide and digital issue dedicated to Zona Maco and the art week in Mexico City is now available online, as well as an iOS app. This edition has been developed thanks to an incredible editorial committee formed by Carlos Amorales (Artist), Juan Gaitán (Director of Museo Tamayo), and Mauricio Galguera (Director of Galería Hilario Galguera and co-director of El Cuarto de máquinas). The committee has been working to select the best and most interesting art spaces and exhibitions in town.” Mongolia (Cancelled) Understanding Location: Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 Montenegro Wo/man Under Umbrella Location: Palazzo Malipiero (ground floor), San Marco 3078-3079/A, Ramo Malipiero “The exhibition is a framework for future research, which will actualize the need for a holistic approach, through imperative resilience of socio-ecological systems. Such approach entails transdisciplinary methods i.e. broadening the architectural knowledge base, and understanding complex, adaptive and self-regulating systems where narrow-range activities have unconceivable consequences.” Nordic Countries Explore Nature's Relationship to the Built Environment Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the relationship between nature and the built environment. The goal is to explore new ways of making buildings that emphasize the delicate but often invisible interactions between the built and natural worlds. The Nordic pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1962, celebrates nature’s different phenomena: light, sound, materials bringing them together to form a unique architectural experience. The 2018 installation in the Nordic pavilion will build on the context created by Fehn and ask how we see ourselves in relation to nature today.” Pakistan The Fold Location: Levante section of the Gardens of Marinaressa, along Riva dei Sette Martiri “The National Pavilion of Pakistan team Presenting Pakistan’s architectural design prowess to the international community are Coalesce Design Studio, a Karachi-based multidisciplinary design practice, and Antidote Art & Design, a Dubai-based platform that serves the careers of emerging and mid-career visual artists and designers, with the generous support of GAA Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization that aims to heighten awareness about the more philosophical themes in contemporary art, architecture, and culture. The Pavilion of Pakistan, titled The Fold, explores these ideas of limitation and interdependence, inviting visitors to comprehend Freespace as a consequence of unity, mutuality and harmony amidst a restrictive physicality. This makes it simultaneously a global as well as a local phenomenon.” Peru Undercover. 4000 Years of Architecture and Urban Planning in an Unexpected Place: Lima Location: Arsenale “Peru immediately brings to mind the Incas and the grandeur of Machu Picchu. Little is known, however, about its capital, Lima, a city where it never rains. With 7 mm of annual rainfall, it is one of the driest on Earth. This has been a decisive factor in the survival of a great number of adobe architectural monuments in the past 4000 years – 447 structures, to be precise. The curators found reserves of generosity in this legacy.” Philippines The City Who Had Two Navels Location: Arsenale “Inspired by Filipino National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin’s novel The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1961), the Philippine Pavilion confronts the tension between the vicissitudes of the past and the challenges of constructing contemporary subjectivity. It highlights two ‘navels’ that are in constant dialogue: the forces of colonialism and neoliberalism. Through the speculations about the intertwined forces and the concomitant architectural and urban issues, Philippines’ ‘Freespace’ anticipates possibilities for renewed life and hope.” Poland Amplifying Nature Location: Giardini “Architecture serves not only to offer protection from nature, but is inherently connected with phenomena such as gravitation, water circulation, or the day-night cycle. This concept is present in nature-amplifying designs from the history of Polish architecture: the Warszawianka sports complex, inscribed in the Vistula River escarpment, designed by a Jerzy Sołtan-led team of the Art-and-Research Workshops of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Zofia and Oskar Hansens’ Szumin House, and Jacek Damięcki’s visionary, unrealised design of the Floating Rotary Pavilion, and in two original designs by CENTRALA — the vertically open Cabrio House and the Rain Pavilion. Throughout the 6 months of the show, the pavilion will be actively shaped by factors including water, daily and annual light rhythms, or viewer interaction, demonstrating how architecture is inclusive in processes of physical change.” Portugal Public Without Rhetoric Location: Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco “This theme underlines how closely State investment in accessible, quality public space is directly related to the rise of a democratic, cultured and inclusive society. Portugal is showcasing a tour of the “Public Building” on the main floor in Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco. Its representation includes a collection of drawings, models and photographs of the 12 selected projects that include temporary structures, buildings or infrastructures dedicated to culture, education, sport and mobility. This is the work of several different generations of Portuguese architects, born between the 1930s and 1980s and built in the last ten years. The diversity of programmes and scales in this exhibition are used to reveal the universal culture and cross-generation excellence of these Portuguese architects. ‘Public buildings such as cultural, educational and sports facilities and infrastructures,’ as the curators point out, ‘belong to the idea of evolution and progressivity as regards social opportunities. They in fact simultaneously reconstruct and rehabilitate the city and renew public space in terms of quality and culture.’” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) presents the project Living with Water in the Pavilion of Slovenia at the 16th Venice International Architecture Biennale. They developed a series of installations that investigate the relations between the hydrological systems and constructed structures, territory and landscapes on a range of spatial, temporal and operational scales. Furthermore, Plemenitaš and his team developed a Multi-Scale Flow Map.” Romania Mnemonics Location: one for the Giardini and one for the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research (RICHR) in Cannaregio “Mnemonics is the ancient technique of collecting memories. The ultimate challenge of architecture is the ability of a space to generate strong memories. In Romania the image of children playing outside the buildings is the universal icon of the space between the apartment buildings. The installation uses props specific to the environment mentioned above in order to invite everyone to exchange roles on the playground, to interact and reflect over the effects of the appropriation of a common space by communities.” Russia Station Russia Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the past, present and future of the railways in Russia. The space itself will be transformed into a train station. The focus of the exhibition forms a parallel with the history of the Russian Pavilion itself, which was inaugurated in 1914. The building’s designer, Alexey Shchusev, was also responsible for the Kazansky Railway Station. The space will be divided into five halls: Hall 1: The Geography of Free Space Hall 2: The Architectural Depot Hall 3: The Waiting Hall of the Future Hall 4: The Crypt of Memories Hall 5: Aboard the Free Space” San Marino Urban Colors Location: Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 947 “The project we propose for the 16th Architecture Biennale focuses on the relationship between architecture and urban environments, with particular attention to color, often absent or arbitrarily used, in modern architecture. There will be projects, models, videos, photographs, works of art by architects, designers, and artists from different countries.” Saudi Arabia Spaces In Between Location: Arsenale “‘Freespace invites opportunity. It welcomes passersby, visitors and tenants. Once, open land accommodated independent settlement. Today, the consumption of space drives suburban growth. Within the peripheries, where development meets desert, the distinction between city edge and hinterland is blurred as bare expanses are punctured by swift development. Structures ranging from pathways, forums to flexible spaces, activating the inherent potential of the spaces in between.’ Over the past four decades, Saudi metropolitan centers have undergone rapid urbanization, with rural migration propelling built territories outwards. Settlement-driven growth produces disjointed, mono-functional, car-dependent neighborhoods connected by highways. In this state of fragmentation, over 40% of city land lies vacant. The wide distances between residential enclaves erode social ties and deplete natural resources.” Serbia Free School Is Free Space Location: Giardini “This work was inspired by the Drawing on the Wall found in a basement room of the house which used to be Bogdan Bogdanovic’s Village School of the Philosophy of Architecture from 1976 to 1990. After the school was closed, over its long history of decay, the house became a Free Space for refugees, football players, hunters, vagrants… The metaphysics of this drawing and the history of the place introduce us to a state of archetypal intimacy of primitive peoples or theological-cosmological interpretations of ourselves. As a rule, such a psychological state turns us into self-taught architects of our personal inner space while the process of transition from the surreal to the real unfolds within us.” Singapore No More Free Space Location: Arsenale “Under the direction of lead curator Dr. Erwin Viray, Head of Pillar, Architecture and Sustainable Design at Singapore University of Technology and Design. The exhibition comprises twelve Singapore-based architecture projects, spanning residential, commercial, private and public buildings, each demonstrating how to turn constraints into opportunities for ‘free space’ by re-imagining what a highly compact city can be. Each project incorporates light, air, greenery or water to create oasis and delightful free spaces in dense urban environments, bringing joy and connectivity to the community. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be an interactive installation – an ethereal cloud of handcrafted acrylic knots with multi-sensory sounds, light and image projections, re-creating the experiences of Singapore for the audience.” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Living with Water commissioner appointed a group of internationally acclaimed architects, landscape architects, researchers and educators, who applied for an open invitation to participate in the development of a joint presentation at the Pavilion of Slovenia. The multidisciplinary process of their work is presented in two installations. Because of water, life in Slovenia is enjoyable and satisfying, but at the same time water represents a particular danger. Nearly 160,000 Slovenian inhabitants live in flood-prone areas and some 50 to 70 floods of varying sizes affect Slovenia every year. At the same time, the right to drinking water has been enshrined in the Constitution since 2016 and almost one-fifth of Slovenia's territory is protected in order to safeguard drinking water resources. On the other hand, many concessions for the management of important water resources have been granted to corporations.” South Africa (Cancelled) Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng “In response to the Biennale’s theme, the South African Pavilion invites viewers to explore the artist’s role in visualising and articulating the notion of selfhood within a context of global marginalisation. What is it to be visible in everyday life, yet invisible and disregarded at the level of cultural, political or economic representation? The exhibition reflects on experiences of exclusion, displacement, transience, migration and xenophobia, exploring the complex socio-political forces that shape the performance of selfhood under such conditions.” Spain Becoming Commissioner: Ministerio de Fomento Agencia Española de Venue: Giardini Turkey The Shift/Vardiya Location: Arsenale “The Shift/Vardiya, follows an atypical architectural discourse compared to other installations or projects that are set to be exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Tackling the essence of the biennale's theme Freespace directly or indirectly, or both analogically or metaphorically, the Pavilion doesn't feature a unique installation or a series of exhibition objects. Instead, it focuses on the process of production through which architecture is studied collectively and experimentally with many students and professionals coming from different disciplines from around the world. The Shift is envisioned to be a hotspot for various workshops, roundtable discussions and informal meetings, welcoming over a hundred international students of architecture, tens of tutors, guest professionals, keynote speakers and visitors while inviting all to a continuous learning and production process throughout the twenty-five weeks of the biennial.” United Arab Emirates Lifescapes Beyond Bigness Location: Arsenale “Lifescapes Beyond Bigness, the National Pavilion UAE’s exhibition at the 2018 Venice Biennale, will reveal hidden scenes of everyday life in the UAE across four ‘human-scale’ urban landscapes. Opening on 24 May 2018 at 12 noon, the exhibition will highlight the interplay between the built environment and the dynamism of informal social life through images, technical drawings, maps and three-dimensional models. The exhibition and accompanying publication examine four urban typologies, including: residential neighborhoods, morphology and social rhythm of the four typologies. Case studies and detailed personal stories offer insight into the anthropology of each research site.” Uruguay Prison to Prison, an Intimate Story between two Architectures Location: Giardini “The project for the pavilion explores the existence of an unprecedented Freespace inside the unlikeliest place and in close relationship with its larger opposite. Last year the largest building created in Uruguay was a prison and this symbolic fact bears witness to the desires and fears of our society and the effect that architecture can have. Ironically, this new prison was built adjacent to the existing Punta de Rieles Prison, often referred to as the “village jail.” A unique experience in Uruguay, and in the world, in which the prison is understood as a lively, vibrant neighborhood that imitates the outside on the inside, resulting in an unexpected Freespace for collective projects and negotiations inside a detention center.” Vatican City Vatican Chapels Location: Island of San Giorgio Maggiore “The pavilion will consist of ten full-scale chapels that can reconstructed and deployed to parishes anywhere in the world. Vatican Chapels, as the project is officially known, will be erected in a forest on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, opposite St. Mark’s Square.” Venezuela CCS – Espacio Rebelde Commissioner and curator: Nelsón Rodriguez Location: Giardini “The show on display at the pavilion projects three large-scale urban plans in Caracas: Avenida Bolivar-Bulevar de Sabana Grande, Simón Bolívar Parl in la Carlota and the Hugo Chávez Park in La Rinconada.” Switzerland Svizzera 240 Location: Giardini “The Salon Suisse offers a series of lectures, talks and cultural events supplementing the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion. Curated by architectural historian Marcel Bächtiger, cultural theorist Tim Kammasch and architect Stanislas Zimmermannwith the support of local Salonnière Laura Tinti, this year’s programme is an invitation to a journey. If architecture is an island within the archipelago of the artistic and scientific disciplines, then the Salon is a ship that has left the harbour. From foreign shores, we will look back at architecture and explore its cultural and social relevance today. In the long history of architecture, such moments have always proved most fruitful when the discourse opened up to ideas, insights and inventions from other disciplines. Today, it is time to set sail again. On our journey, we will encounter philosophers and anthropologists, writers, musicians and artists, comparatists and social researchers. By discussing their work and its relevance to architecture, the Salon Suisse will open new perspectives, not only on the potentials of architecture in the 21st century, but also on hidden connections that have always existed among the different disciplines. Each soirée is also a cultural event: a concert, a lecture or a performance; a tangible sensory experience that will initiate conversation between the audience and our guests, all of them present over the whole length of a salon.” United States Dimensions of Citizenship – U.S. Pavilion at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale Location: Giardini “The exhibition is an effort aimed to investigate how the very concept of citizenship has changed in recent times and is changing these days. Does the conventional notion of citizenship is being undermined by transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, geopolitical transformations, climatic change, populism, social inequality? How architects and designers should respond to such transformation and in which way their traditional role in contemporary society is changing because of it?”
Make Your Voice Heard
How can architecture criticism give everyone a seat at the table?
As Christopher Hawthorne moves on from the Los Angeles Times and as new forms of criticism proliferate, we asked the architecture community what the role of the critic is today, and what it might be missing. What do you see as the role of the critic in architecture today? Why is it important? What aspects of architecture are not being addressed today by critics? What are the problems with criticism today? Here are the responses we received from those who felt that architecture criticism is inherently political and should be approached as such, from across the country and abroad. How can women and people of color be included in the conversation when the field has typically buried their voices? This article was originally published in our May print issue, and was preceded by a selection of answers from architecture critics themselves and those who thought that the internet has fundamentally changed the field. Nolan Boomer Arts critic and editor of Take Shape. “At the core of architectural criticism is the realization that setting is not the backdrop of humankind’s story, but actually a character that shapes its plot...some of the best criticism appears in other genres like fiction and poetry, but it often isn’t considered as such.” Alice Twemlow Head of Design Curating and Writing Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven and professor of design at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. “If you take architecture to be less about individual buildings, and more about the structural, political, and conceptual framing of the shifting relationship between public and private space, (which I do) then the role of the architecture critic merges with that of the social critic and, in that respect, is immensely important. When that framing is thoughtful and brilliant, she should make sure we hear about it; and when the framing is uninformed or unfair, she should also make sure we hear about it. She should remind us of the past, respond to the current situation, and anticipate or lead future moves. She should advocate for the right of every public citizen to access the aesthetic and practical benefits of the built environment whilst being protected from it failings and harmful effects. And if that sounds like hard work, and that it encroaches on the territory of urban planning, social politics, environmental science, ethics, and philosophy, that’s because it is, and it does.” Mitch McEwen Assistant professor at Princeton University School of Architecture and partner of A(n) Office. “Architecture has made so many heroic and visionary claims, and also failed so many people for so long. The architecture critic can sort through these claims and failures and new potentials, both for us and for a wider public.” Mark Foster Gage Principal of Mark Foster Gage Architects and the assistant dean of the Yale School of Architecture. “I think there is an old notion of a critic who tells you if something is good or not. This is outdated and it probably comes from [Gene] Siskel and [Roger] Ebert on television, watching movies—‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down.’ Here the critic is an arbiter of taste. It’s not helpful: it’s about judgment rather than a new opening of discussion. It’s a closure, stopping conversation cold. Once you call a movie bad, why discuss it? I believe a critic is a person that opens people’s eyes as to WHY certain things are notable in various disciplines (or outside of them). A critic should be opening conversations, prompting curiosity, and inciting interest. I also think it is the responsibility of the critic to focus on contemporary work and issues—‘the new’ is always in most need of support and discussion, especially among those who feel intimidated or uncomfortable about it. This is what the critic is supposed to do, make it possible to bring more people into the conversation about any type of work. They are stewards of curiosity and interest, not judges of success or failure.” Enrique Ramirez Writer and architectural historian based in Brooklyn. “This question presumes that criticism is important to the discipline and practice of architecture. To say so is to admit to a certain kind of hubris. Criticism is not needed, for no matter if critics decide to take on the mantle of an investigative magistrate and try to shed light on a particular issue, to watch different actors scurry about once their particular malfeasances become exposed, to say: ‘Aha, Architecture...YOU’VE BEEN CAUGHT’...this is criticizing, but is it criticism? I used to think, ‘Yes, it is.’ It’s not. An architectural critic may tell you, ‘Look at this building ...Modernism is EVIL!’ or ‘Postmodernism is TRITE!’ or ‘Everything coming out of UCLA or Michigan is MAGENTA and CORNFLOWER BLUE!’ Okay, but so what? If that is the mode of engagement that architectural critics prefer, then I want no part of it. As critics, we need to look at colleagues in other fields to see how they advocate for the cultural relevance of their object of inquiry, for this is at the heart of criticism. Architectural criticism seems stuck in a kind [of] mode that conflates ‘criticism’ with ‘criticizing,’ one that privileges the dressing down of a building over everything else. Architecture lives in the world at large, and as critics, we need to state how this is the case.” José Esparza Chong Cuy Associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. “I believe that an informed public opinion of what needs to be celebrated and denounced is more important than ever. Contemporary life is shaped by so many invisible mechanisms that need to be exposed to the day-to-day eye. There are so many things at play regulated by sociopolitical, economic, and environmental factors in the spaces we inhabit that we need to have thought out critical positions to be able to act accordingly, both socially and professionally. Having a better understanding of these invisible mechanisms could potentially open new ways of operating. Moreover, I believe that all critical mediums should make an attempt to cover rural environments. It is clear that city-living is not the only option, but critics should make an effort to cover stories about rural life and the rural landscapes to connect the practice or architecture to these settings as well. We tend to forget how interconnected the rural and urban contexts are, and the critic should use its platform to inform how one setting feeds off the other and vice versa.” Bika Rebek Founding principal of Some Place, and an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia GSAPP. “A master of expansive writing reaching all fringes, and perhaps my favorite critic is Karl Kraus. While architecture is just one of his wide-ranging interests, his writing is personal, angry, funny, extremely timely and unconcerned with the consequences. Contemporary architectural criticism would benefit from this fearlessness and sense of humor. With more pointed controversy, critics could attract wider audiences and become part of an age-old dialogue, spinning the web further through the lens of our time.” Jesse LeCavalier Designer, writer, and educator whose work explores the architectural and urban implications of contemporary logistics. He is the author of The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment, assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the Daniel Rose Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. “Foucault’s appeal to a kind of criticism focused on curiosity, attention, stewardship, and imagination remains, for me, an appealing statement about the potential role of the critic: ‘I can’t help but dream about a kind of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply not judgments but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent them sometimes—all the better. All the better. Criticism that hands down sentences sends me to sleep; I’d like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the imagination.’ While thoughtful and perceptive engagement with buildings will always be important, I feel like now more than ever we need to develop an expanded understanding the larger forces shaping the built environment, from our own consumer choices to larger policy transformations, their implications, and ways to engage them.” Kate Wagner Creator of McMansion Hell and a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University researching concert hall design in transition from late- to post-modernism. “Architecture is inherently political on its own! While the city is relevant to the building, we should avoid using the city as a crutch.” Fred Scharmen Teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning. His first book, Space Settlements, will be out later this year. “I saw a joke on Twitter the other week that said: ‘Every academic discipline has another academic discipline which watches them, occasionally making sarcastic comments.’ For architecture, criticism gets even weirder, because this shadow discipline is supposed to do at least two more other things: it’s meant to be internalized, so architects should be working and self-critiquing at almost the same time; and it’s also supposed to be outward-facing, to explain what’s going on inside the discipline to an external audience. So somehow we’re all meant to be our own worst and best critics, hecklers, and narrators, all at once. This situation is messed up.” Peggy Deamer Professor of architecture at Yale University, an architect practicing in New York, and content coordinator of the Architecture Lobby. “The role of the critic is to inform both the public and the discipline about what aesthetic, economic, cultural, or social value is potentially embedded in that discipline and point out examples that are good or bad in relation to that potential. Critics aren’t identifying the connection between how we in the discipline work—with illegal, economically naive, sexist, and formally myopic protocols—and the poverty of what we are asked to work on (rich peoples second houses; the occasional private institution) and the consequent lack of respect and financial stability.” David Grahame Shane Adjunct professor in the Urban Design program at Columbia GSAPP. “Architectural criticism is not important as there is so little architecture of quality produced today by large firms or clients to consider. Look at Hudson Yards or the World Trade Center, and weep. The profession is BIM-ed and value-engineered to death. Public commissions and competitions that once gave openings to critics and young firms have disappeared along with small bookstores and magazines. Chat rooms and the academy remain as hermetic critical fortresses with their own private codes and handshakes. Sadly public intellectuals and critics are a disappearing breed, dying off in the new architectural ecology, occasionally spotlighted by museums as avant-garde and remote insights. It’s not a pretty picture, but surely in the future people will regain a sense of shared communities in the city and countryside and a new breed of architectural critics and architectural practice will re-emerge.” Michael Sorkin Architect, author, educator and founding principal of Michael Sorkin Studio. “The critic’s duty is resistance! As the country careens toward full-on fascism, its environment assailed and warfare looming, we must defend the social architectures of civility and not lose ourselves in the artistic weeds. A critic who fails to assail Trump, supports him.” Kelsey Keith Editor-in-Chief of Curbed. “Architecture as a study and as a practice has done a lot to isolate itself. I think that the built environment matters so much because it affects and influences people in the places they live. I speak not as an academic or as a critical theorist, but as someone who genuinely loves all this, wants it to be better, and believes that end is achieved in part via criticism. An architecture critic’s role in society today is to contextualize—whether the point is to educate, or entertain, or satisfy some curiosity: ‘Why are A-frames suddenly so popular again? Why is it important to preserve the work of a rare woman project lead from a midcentury architecture firm?’ Most critics are too busy broadcasting their own well-formed opinions to actually listen to the zeitgeist. Dialogue is important, but so is listening to others—as a knowledge-gathering tool or when their perspectives differ from your own.” Abdalilah Qutub (Abdul Qutub) Co-founder of Socially Condensed Fully-Built Enviromemes. “The role of the architectural critic today goes beyond the immediate issues surrounding a building, but also includes the larger ethical practices and impacts in which the participants in the architectural field might be involved. There are two main themes that are not really being fully addressed today: Workers’ rights issues and the overwhelming whiteness of the field. The dominance of white men now only further keeps alive the whiteness of the field that has been passed on by previous generations. Recent efforts within the #MeToo movement and the allegations that have recently come out against Richard Meier further reveal some of the underlying power structures in the field and how they are being abused. Criticism alone is not going to solve these problems without the provocation of direct action from the architectural and associated fields (strikes, demonstrations, and protests).” Nicholas Korody Co-founder of the experimental architecture practice Adjustments Agency, co-curator of the architecture store domesti.city, and editor-in-chief of the architecture publication Ed. “The role of the critic today is first and foremost to draw attention to the architecture of architecture—that is, the ways in which ‘architecture’ is not a given, but rather something constructed and therefore mutable. Within the discipline and profession, we take for granted that certain things, from exploitative labor practices to rampant sexism and even assault, come with the territory. They do not have to. Alongside this, we accept with little criticality the complicity of architecture with capital, with the end result that not only do we now design only for the select few, we also help fuel the conversion of our cities into playgrounds for speculative finance. This relationship is historically specific, and the role of the critic is to both point this out and to imagine alternatives. Critics today tend toward the myopic. They see a form and not what’s behind it: labor relations, environmental degradation, capital accumulation, displacement of people. Every act of construction has cascading effects far beyond the building site. Critics must contend with this. Broadly speaking, it is a conservative field. Many supposedly liberal or even leftist critics are in fact advocating for a maintenance of the status quo, which is a violent position to take. There are far too few voices demanding truly radical change within the discipline. Criticism is itself a form of practice, a way of imagining possibilities where others see none. Integral to that is looking far beyond the discipline, far beyond buildings. Most importantly, critics must take positions—albeit ones capable of change—and fight for them. Political neutrality does not exist. A good critic loves architecture so much they despise everything about it.” Ana María León Trained as an architect, León is a researcher and architecture historian at the University of Michigan. “Critics link the discipline not only to a broader audience, but also to larger concerns that often escape architecture’s purview. If good histories take a critical view of the past, good critiques are able to historicize the present. Our current political moment urgently needs more critical voices. Critics are still overwhelmingly white, male, and Western. This is not to say that white, male, Western critics are unable to look beyond their own identities, but representation matters, and a diversity of voices tends to insure a diversity of opinions and points of view. I would love it if say, The Architect’s Newspaper reached out to critics in South America, Africa, Asia, and asked them to review events and buildings there for a broader public.” Eva Franch i Gilabert Architect, educator, curator, founder of Office of Architectural Affairs (OOAA), current executive director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture and future director of the Architectural Association. “A critic is the historian of the present, or the present future, or as Reyner Banham’s intellectual biography points out, of the immediate future. To understand the power of architecture, unveil it, and transmit it to a larger audience is the most benevolent image of the critic, but the most seminal and most needed is to allow the field to find positions beyond obsessions; to position design culture in relation to the most important issues affecting contemporary culture and the built environment. Any critic needs to go beyond the cliché, the commonplace assumptions behind good design, and understand radical, powerful designs that are able to produce more equitable societies. A critic that is able to read beyond press releases, instant gratifications, three minute impressions of what should be and help us all imagine what actions, ideas, and form could be. The problems with criticism today are the same as the ones with architecture: it is extremely hard to go beyond client-oriented work, to produce designs that question the status quo and the forces at play. The making and buying of history in the PR age is an issue to be investigated thoroughly. It is extremely hard for editors, critics, and architects to keep a critical distance. While this might not be any different than in times past, at least I think there is now a more transparent understanding of sponsored articles, and the influence and power of certain lobbies. The real difficulty of being a critic is that we do not have editorial structures that support criticism in its full flesh. As in many other fields false criticism, sensationalism, scandalous headlines, ...are more in vogue than rigorous - maybe less sensationalist- forms of criticism. The problem is that bad criticism is more profitable in terms of business models; good criticism needs of idea models, less business models....”
Obama Presidential Center breezes through planning and zoning hurdles, but continues to kindle community concern
The Obama Presidential Center (OPC) passed two substantial hurdles this month as the Chicago Planning Commission and Zoning Committees both voted in overwhelming support of the development. Amidst a seven-hour hearing of public comment coming from a variety of Chicago voices, broad strokes of the plan were given a “yay” vote from 15 of the 22 planning commission members on May 17. The Chicago City Council signed off on the $500 million project on May 22, passing various zoning approvals. The stage is now set for the construction of a 235-foot-tall building with cultural exhibit and office space, two additional cultural buildings, and an athletic and community center. The Planning Commission vote also includes a 450-car underground parking garage and clears the way for the Obama Foundation (OF) to close public right-of-ways. While these votes were expected to breeze through both the Planning Commission and Zoning Committees, departments within the City of Chicago had already created conditions that allow obstacles to be easily bypassed, from the rerouting and closing of streets to downplaying the effects the OPC will have on historical aspects of Jackson Park. While the agenda divided the vote into multiple components, all of the items were treated as one. Public comment during the May 17th Planning Commission meeting included statements from the Chicago History Museum, Preservation Chicago, Jackson Park Watch, The Woodlawn Organization, Chicago aldermen and tenured Chicago activists. The commission did not address the federal lawsuit filed on May 14 by Protect our Parks, Inc. that accused the Obama Foundation of an “institutional bait and switch,” claiming that the original purpose of the transfer of public park land to the OF, a non-government entity, was to house the official Obama Federal Library, to be administered by the U.S. National Records and Archives Administration. As the OPF will not house Barack Obama’s official documents, the suit claims, transfer of park land to a private entity violates the park district code. The Planning Commission also failed to address a community benefits agreement proposed by the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Agreement Coalition (CBA), a group of organizations that includes the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Black Youth Project 100, and Friends of the Parks. Under the ordinance proposed by the CBA, the OPC, the University of Chicago, and the city would make targeted investments within a five-mile radius, including economic development, education, employment, housing, sustainability and transportation. At a community meeting held at McCormick Place last February, Barack Obama coolly responded to the call for a CBA: "The concern I have with community benefits agreements, in this situation, is it's not inclusive enough," Obama remarked. "I would then be siding with who? What particular organizations would end up speaking for everybody in that community?” Also present at the Planning Commission meeting were OPC architects Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, who are in the process of selecting materials for each of the structures that complement neighboring buildings like the Museum of Science and Industry and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, a building of their own design on the campus of the University of Chicago. While neither Tsien nor Williams spoke during the hearing, Williams implied during a public meeting in February that the integrity of Jackson Park has already been compromised over time. Designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Jackson Park was the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and is one of Chicago’s most valuable and significant pieces of public land. An archaeological evaluation performed as a part of the project’s federal compliance uncovered artifacts and ephemera from the World’s Columbian Exposition, as well as architectural materials relating to the fair’s buildings, many of which set the course for how Chicago would look going into the 20th century. Despite the importance of these findings for Chicago, both the Illinois State Archaeological Survey and the chief archaeologist for the Illinois Department of Transportation have determined the presence of these artifacts to be insignificant. It is expected that a federal review of above-ground resources will reach a similar conclusion-that the OPC project will not have an adverse effect on the historic landscape of Jackson Park or the surrounding historic districts and buildings. At the center of the opposition is a $175 million-dollar plan to overhaul and close multiple roads within and around Jackson Park, a critical component to the Tiger Woods-designed PGA golf course slated to open in 2020, a year behind the OPC. The golf course would combine the existing Jackson Park and South Shore courses and fragment the South Shore Nature Sanctuary in favor of unobstructed views of the Chicago skyline for golfers. While the OF has not stated they are in support of the golf course proposal, many board members of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, an organization in support of the plan, have ties with the Obama Foundation or Barack Obama himself.
Pulse, a snaking public art piece linked to the Dilworth Park fountain in Philadelphia, will soon be showing commuters what’s going on underneath their feet. The fountain sits in front of Philadelphia City Hall in Center City, and sculptor Janet Echelman will soon be realizing a light-and-mist installation that will track underground SEPTA trains in real time, thanks to a $325,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation. The project was originally commissioned in 2009 by the Center City District Foundation (CCD), and major pieces of its foundations were embedded in the surrounding plaza when the park’s fountain was built in 2014. Pulse, described as “a living X-ray of the city's circulatory system” by the artist, would create four-foot-tall walls of colored mist that track the trains passing below, specifically, the green, orange, and blue lines. Separate tracks of light embedded in the concrete would project into an atomized mist to create the kinetic effect. Echelman worked closely with the park’s architects, OLIN, to integrate Pulse’s infrastructure into the plaza redesign.' The $325,000 grant that the CCD announced last Monday will cover the construction of Pulse’s green section, which would follow SEPTA’s underground green line trolley. The installation of that phase will come to life this July, though the CCD is still seeking funding for the remaining orange and blue line tracks. The project was conceived as a tribute to Philadelphia’s first water pumping station, and Echelman was brought on board to design the piece back in 2010. However, the CCD has been trying to drum up the $4 million required to complete and maintain Pulse ever since it was announced (though a $20,000 National Endowment of the Arts grant awarded last year helped to get the ball rolling).
DS+R’s spare design lets the Met’s fashion exhibit gleam alongside the art
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination is an exhibition that shows the Catholic Church’s influence on fashion designers in imagery and symbolism, and the sumptuous garments and artifacts that inspired them. Exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Fifth Avenue flagship in the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries for Byzantine Art, medieval galleries and sculpture hall, and the Robert Lehman Wing, and at the Met Cloisters in Washington Heights, it puts fashion in the context of the museum’s holdings—paintings, tapestries, decorative arts and architecture—a signature strategy of curator Andrew Bolton, who employed this technique in China: Through the Looking Glass in the Chinese Galleries and Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century in the Wrightsman Galleries. By contrast, The Vatican collection of clothing and jewelry, on loan from the Papacy, is displayed in the Anna Wintour Costume Center in a self-contained display (one descending, one is greeted by a priest’s cassock designed by artist Henri Matisse which resemble his cutouts, that was part of his commission for the interiors of the Chapel du Rosaire in Vence, France). Music by Samuel Barber, Gabriel Fauré, George Frideric Handel, Ennio Morricone, Michael Nyman, and Franz Schubert serenades you through the galleries. Heavenly Bodies was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with partner Liz Diller taking the lead. The 150 fashion ensembles from the early 20th century to the present, by designers who were largely raised Catholic are either ornate, or by contrast, monastic, usually dramatic, and sometimes over the top; they are set off by DS+R’s refined, solid and decidedly neutral platforms, vitrines, and pedestals in steel, concrete, and acrylic. Diller says she was channeling Carlo Scarpa (1906—1978), the Italian architect who infused contemporary aesthetics into historic building renovations, often museums; Castelvecchio Museum in a 14th-century Verona fortress, Fondazione Querini Stampalia in a 16th-century palazzo, Museo Canova in Possagno, and Pallazo Abatellis in Palermo. Diller, too, has found spareness and balance in her interventions, capitalizing on this collision of contrasts. The elegant custom display units include scored concrete pedestals that support cruciform metal tubes capped by a plinth that carries mannequins; clear acrylic boxes on dark gray-scored flooring; long horizontal metal tubes to hang multiple vestments; and a large cantilevered platform emerging from both sides of a partition to hold papal robes flat. “Fashion and religion have long been intertwined, mutually inspiring and informing one another,” said Bolton. He cited the "parallels between a traditional fashion runway presentation and the liturgical processions of the Roman Catholic Church…theatrical spectacles that rely on the tropes of performance.” This dialogue is particularly strong at the Cloisters, where the physicality of the buildings heightens the interplay; the Cloisters is a pastiche of architectural elements from European monasteries, abbeys, and chapels that were dismantled stone-by-stone and reconstructed on a cliffside site overlooking the Hudson. One example is in the Gothic Chapel, which features pointed-arched stained glass windows and seven tombs with figurative sculpture effigies. John Galliano’s armored ensemble lies recumbent between two crypts, hovered over by Gareth Pugh’s black zippered outfits perched high on pedestals, while Olivier Theyskens’s red-headed figure in a black gown, fastened with hooks-and-eyes, stands below stained-glass windows in a row with female statues. In another instance, large, dramatic haloed lighting that spills onto darkened floors is featured both at the Cloisters on a Balenciaga-clad bride in the Romanesque Fuentidueña Apse, a semicircular apse with a single-aisle nave, and on Fifth Avenue in the Medieval Sculpture Hall spotlighting Dior-, Valentino-, and McQueen-dressed mannequins. The layout of these galleries mimics the longitudinal plan of a church, with a central nave and side aisles. The pairings of fashion with appropriate environments can be satisfying. The “monastic silhouettes and minimalist sensibilities…deceptively simple, pared-down” in monochromatic palettes of black, white, and brown by Geoffrey Beene, Madame Grès, Claire McCardell, and Rick Owens are very much at home in the Cloisters’ austere Cuixa Cloister and Pontaut Chapter House. In the Glass Gallery, overlooking the Cloisters’ Cuxa, Bonnefont, and Trie Gardens, rows of trees are interspersed with fashion by Dior, Valentino and Takahashi that were inspired by the paintings Adam and Eve (1526) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights (ca. 1490–1500), and Van Gogh’s Wheat Fields paintings. Similarly, the Unicorn Tapestry is paired with Thom Browne’s white puff of a wedding dress. Perhaps the most simpatico pairing is in the Nine Heroes Tapestries Room, where the fashion seems to directly mirror the Met’s art collection: Craig Green’s ensembles, which Women’s Wear Daily called “warrior monk,” closely resemble the French tapestries that depict King Arthur, Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Hector, and Christian and Hebrew heroes in color, texture, and style. Amusingly, Philip Treacy’s hats “in their architectural magnificence” with winged cornettes (think The Flying Nun) and molded forms in a series called Madonna Rides Again were inspired by the Burg Weiler Altarpiece which hangs behind it. Bolton writes, “The influential theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote his magnum opus based on the belief that we first perceive the mystery of God through beauty, not truth.” Here is beauty in abundance in a rich and reverent setting.
The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara will feature national pavilions from several first-time exhibitors. Responding to the Biennale’s Freespace theme in manifold ways, the new participants deal with everything from humanity’s relationship to the environment to faith and religion. Saudi Arabia Commissioned by the Misk Art Institute, Saudi Arabia’s first Biennale pavilion, called Spaces in Between, will explore both the fragmentation and connection brought on by uneven urbanization and suburbanization. Turki and Abdulrahman Gazzaz, the brother founders of architectural design consultancy Brick Lab, will be realizing the project, which includes an installation of resin cylinders (the petroleum origin of which references the nation’s oil reserves that have fueled rapid urban development), sand from different regions of Saudi Arabia, and infographics. Venue: Arsenale Holy See The Vatican commissioned curator and historian Francesco Dal Co to select ten architects to contribute to Vatican Chapels, a collection of small chapels by architects from across the globe on Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. The Holy See hopes that the chapels will not feel tied to the traditional church form, only requiring that they each have a pulpit and an altar, and have the ability to be reconstructed elsewhere. Visitors will enter Vatican Chapels through the Asplund Pavilion, which will present an exhibition of drawings by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund that is informed by his 1920 Woodland Chapel. Designed by Venice-based MAP Studio, the Asplund Pavilion will serve as both an anchor and as a point of departure for the rest of Vatican Chapels. The participating architects are Andrew Berman (United States), Carla Juaçaba (Brazil), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal), Eva Prats & Ricardo Flores (Spain), Francesco Cellini (Italy), Javier Corvalán (Paraguay), Norman Foster (United Kingdom), Sean Godsell (Australia), Smiljan Radic (Chile), and Terunobu Fujimori (Japan). Venue: Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore Pakistan Curated by Karachi-based architect and scholar Sami Chohan, The Fold will be Pakistan’s first presentation at the Biennale. Exploring the dense, informal settlements of Pakistan’s most populous (and the world’s third largest) city, Karachi, The Fold considers open space in the face of constant contraction. As a city that has grown 20-fold in the past 70 years, Karachi’s constricted public space often cannot take the form of parks and other traditional open spaces. Instead, public space grows from the social interactions that limn the corridors of these narrow settlements—constructing a dense form of urban “openness.” Venue: Giardini della Marinaressa – Giardino di Levante Antigua and Barbuda Curated by landscape architect Barbara Paca, Antigua and Barbuda’s exhibition at Venice will be known as Environmental Justice as a Civil Right. The exhibition centers on three sites in Antigua and Barbuda, using them to interrogate the relationship between architecture and the environment by way of models, drawings, and other objects. Venue: Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 919 Guatemala Stigma, curated by Stefania Pieralice, Carlo Marraffa, and Elsie Wunderlich, explores notions of virtual and utopian architecture. Responding to the crises of language, narrative, and meaning in postmodernity, the projects from Regina Dávila, Marco Manzo, Adriana Padilla Meyer, Studio Domus, UR Project, and Elsie Wunderlich imagine a “virtual city.” The pavilion will exhibit an array of models, monuments, and "large planispheres." Venue: Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, Cannaregio 4118 Lebanon Lebanon’s first pavilion at the Biennale will gather numerous individuals, architects, artists, researchers, and institutions to reflect on unbuilt land and its use and disuse. Primarily focusing on the Beirut River and its watershed, the centerpiece of The Place that Remains, as the pavilion will be known, will be a comprehensive 3-D territorial model. The pavilion is curated by architect and Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Lebanese American University Hala Younes. Venue: Arsenale [googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d11121.408953772161!2d12.342916809924194!3d45.43572791299231!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x326075048d72cf38!2sDon+Orione+Artigianelli!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1526049177751&w=600&h=450]
Context is King
New York City report urges good design in affordable housing
The New York City Public Design Commission (PDC) has released new guidelines for designing affordable housing, painting quality of life as an integral part of any such development. Quality Affordable Housing in NYC, a case study of affordable housing throughout the city, was released at a roundtable presentation at the Center for Architecture last night. Innovative housing is nothing new in New York, but with Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to build or preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing by 2026, a cohesive plan was needed to standardize the new buildings being designed. Quality Affordable Housing pulls together the best aspects from its seven case studies and presents eight guidelines for building more resilient, contextual low-income developments. According to the findings, infill developments that favor pedestrian circulation and an integration with the existing community fabric should be given preference over cloistered, standalone projects. The massing should visually connect the new building with its surroundings, and materials should complement the project’s neighbors. Circulation, both air and pedestrian-related, should be maximized, and the ground floor condition should be inviting to the rest of the neighborhood. All of these suggestions seem like common sense improvements, but tight budgets, strict deadlines, and site constraints often tamp down ambitious social housing projects. Thankfully, Quality Affordable Housing uses its case studies to put projects that have met these goals on display for reference. The PDC has collected projects large and small, from the 16-unit Prospect Gardens, a pilot infill prototype in Brooklyn designed by RKTB Architects in 2004, to 2015’s massive 911,000-square-foot Hunter’s Point South Commons and Crossing in Queens from Ismael Leyva and SHoP. What connects all seven projects is their integration with the surrounding community, attention to landscaping, and most importantly, that people want to live in them. As presenters at the Center kept coming back to, neighborhood residents were overjoyed to move in, and winning the housing lottery often felt like a dream come true. The full PDC guide and breakdowns of all seven case study projects can be found in full here.
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2018 National Design Awards, recognizing ten individuals and firms who have used design to shape the world for the better. This year’s winners include: Lifetime Achievement: Writer, educator, and designer Gail Anderson has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York for the last 25 years, and is an active partner at the multidisciplinary Anderson Newton Design. Anderson has written or co-authored a total of 14 books on popular culture and design, and formerly served as the senior art director at Rolling Stone. Design Mind: Landscape architect, award-winning author, and Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT Anne Whiston Spirn. Spirn was recognized for her longtime advocacy for balancing urbanism with nature, as well as her continued direction of the West Philadelphia Landscape Project. Corporate & Institutional Achievement: Design studio Design for America, which empowers communities to solve local problems through design. Architecture Design: WEISS/MANFREDI was recognized for the way their projects consistently bridge the gap between architecture, art, and the surrounding landscape. The firm’s been on a roll lately, having picked up several cultural commissions and an invite to exhibit at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. Communication Design: Digital identity and experience firm Civilization was recognized for its ability to create empathetic connections and commitment to working with companies who are advocating for the greater good. Fashion Design: The Los Angeles-based fashion designer Christina Kim was recognized for her use of traditional hand working techniques and sustainable business practices. Interaction Design: Architect and designer Neri Oxman was recognized for her experimental material usage and continual boundary-pushing forms. Oxman leads the Mediated Matter Group at the MIT Media Lab, a group whose work frequently bridges the gap between art and technology; their most recent project, Vespers, is a contemporary reinterpretation of the death mask typology that uses living microorganisms. Interior Design: The Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design was recognized for its sense-invoking interiors that are often inspired by local vernacular. The firm has realized projects all over the world from towers in Dubai to the Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn, but like many of the other winners, Oppenheim balances their projects within the surrounding natural environment. Landscape Architecture: Boston-based landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design was honored for its vast body of public work, much of it focused on improving urban resiliency. The firm has tackled projects large and small around the world, from the Chicago Botanic Garden Learning Campus to the Songdo International Plaza in Incheon, South Korea. Product Design: Minneapolis-based Furniture designer and manufacturer Blu Dot was recognized for its playful and modern stylings (including some less-than-functional objects). The National Design Awards have been recognizing exemplary names in the design world since 2000. Nominees must have seven years of professional experience under their belt, while the lifetime achievement nominees must have at least 20 years of experience. Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, will announce the winner of the Director’s Award at a later date, to be given to an outstanding patron of the design world. This year’s awards ceremony will be accompanied by National Design Week, which will run from October 13 through the 21st.