India’s first public sculpture park opened last year in the sprawling Madhavendra Palace, a milestone for the country’s contemporary art scene. The palace's formal corridors and rooms have been curated as a uniquely rich pathway for visitors to The Sculpture Park to see new works of contemporary sculpture in each edition of the park’s programming. This year, 23 artists have brought new, often site-specific works to the palace, and over half of them live and work in India themselves. “For most of my career as a gallerist and curator, I have been trying to break away from the white-box exhibition space,” 2019 edition curator Peter Nagy told Hyperallergic. “With this project, I am able to indulge my passions for art, architecture, and decor into a marvelous synthesis of the past and the present.” Completed in 1892, the Palace is the best-preserved section of the Nahargarh Fort complex, which was designed to sit organically amongst the hills as a pleasure retreat for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh, founder of the city of Jaipur. Twenty-three artists will explore ideas of landscape, politics, and colonialism in their works this year, amidst the backdrop of an Indian heritage landmark to create a striking context. From architectural explorations of the intersections of modern colonial and traditional styles to World War II radio relics, the pieces are varied in narrative as well as scale, but united by their common backdrop. The palace as sculpture park continues to exist as an example of public and private sectors working side-by-side for the proliferation of the arts. A collaboration between the Government of Rajasthan and Saat Saath Arts non-profit, The Sculpture Park states in its mission statement that the park is an example of an “India of the 21st century,” a "synthesis of the contemporary with the traditional, bringing art into the public realm and reclaiming public spaces.” But with works decrying hot-button issues such as the Kashmir border crises and the lingering effects of war and empire, it is difficult to see how the park's artists plan to work with governmental bodies to reform the topics this exhibition is expressing. Yet, the public is responding. Just since the park’s opening, visitation to the palace has increased by 37 percent.
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India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman University of California, Los Angeles 308 Charles E. Young Drive Los Angeles In a show at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, Chicago-based arts journalist Victoria Lautman explores the hidden beauty of an elaborate building type originating in India: the stepwell. Built throughout the subcontinent’s warm, dry regions for the past 1,500 years, stepwells allowed communities to store water from monsoonal rains. These monumental stormwater management systems were built in both Muslim and Hindu architectural styles and served as sites of worship and gathering. Lautman has visited more than 200 stepwells over the past 30 years in an effort to document their importance and ensure their survival. Organized by Joanna Barrkman, senior curator of Southeast Asian and Pacific arts, the exhibition includes 48 photographs taken by Lautman with a point-and-shoot camera, and is arranged in clusters that focus on specific architectural details. Further images, along with GPS coordinates for each stepwell, are included in Lautman’s 2017 book, The Vanishing Stepwells of India.
In Jorge Luis Borges’s 1946 one-paragraph short story "On Exactitude in Science," a fictional 17th-century individual, Suarez Miranda, tells of a time that the "Cartographers Guilds" made a map of their empire so accurately that it matched it entirely, at 1:1 scale, point by point. Of course, this map was utterly useless. This meditation on mapping and empire seems increasingly prescient today, as every last plot of the Earth becomes represented and possessed in cartography, in satellite imagery, in Google Street View, and through intricate digital models. Enter Cityzenith, the Chicago-based startup where the CEO's reported mission, according to the trade publication Building Design and Construction, is to “replicate our entire world,” one hopes with more utilitarian results than those in Borges’s cautionary tale. Cityzenith’s digital twin technology is part of its Smart World Pro software suite, which pulls together data from builders, developers, building owners, cities, and IoT devices to create hyper-detailed "supermaps" of buildings and cities. As Cityzenith CEO Michael Jansen explained to the BBC, "[a] digital twin is a virtual representation of physical buildings and assets but connected to all the data and information around those assets, so that machine learning and AI algorithms can be applied to them to help them operate more efficiently." With these twins, users—building owners, urban designers, environmental engineers, governments—can both monitor existing infrastructure, and simulate the effects of new buildings or what different conditions like temperature change or congestion could cause for existing architecture and for city dwellers, all from a single digital dashboard. Information from everything from Excel sheets to GIS data to social media posts can be dragged and dropped to help create models, incorporating over 1,000 datasets. While Cityzenith is not the first company to push digital twins as an option for developers, builders, and planners, it's one of the first to propose using the technology as a way to design a city from the ground up. Cityzenith claims the Foster + Partners and Surbana Jurong–designed $6.5 billion planned city Amaravati, to be the capital of Andhra Pradesh, India, will be the world’s first city “born as a digital twin.” This new capital was deemed necessary after the shifting of state lines left Andhra Pradesh without a capital. The city is being planned from the ground-up as a smart city for 3.5 million people, in part by leveraging Cityzenith’s Smart World Pro software, the latest version of which launched this winter. Data about construction, design, current and projected environmental conditions, mobility and traffic, and climate can be viewed in the desktop interface, and simulations that leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence can get ahead of what’s happening at a variety of scales. For example, if simulations of high-temperature conditions show most pedestrians will be forced to seek shaded streets during rush hour, how does this congestion shape the city? And how can the city be shaped to prevent it? Permits can be drag-and-drop submitted, and zoning, traffic, and environmental analysis for the entire city is streamlined and accessible from a single window. Builders and developers can get info from a simple web interface. A video from Cityzenith shows a Siri-like natural language search web tool, as well. The company also proposes a “digital twin user ID” for every Amaravati citizen that will let them visit government portals to access tools from their city's digital twin. In an era of big data, simulation, and hyper-detailed mapping, Borges’s 1:1 map doesn’t feel far off. One can imagine a future where we’re better off traveling on our computer screen’s representations of a “digital twin." Or we can just play SimCity instead. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit techplusexpo.com/nyc/.
Situated in Mumbai’s bustling business district, a café interior made almost entirely from cardboard forces passersby to do a double take. The unique establishment, known as "Cardboard Bombay,” is striking not only for its unconventional appearance but also for its sustainable design. Against the backdrop of ubiquitous glass high-rises and fine-dining restaurants, the playful café serves coffee and casual bites in style while taking advantage of cardboard’s many sculptural and textural qualities. Designed by Nuru Karim, founder of Mumbai-based architectural firm NUDES, the space aims to promote conversation about the role of sustainable design in today’s urban landscape, as well as its impact on the future of Earth’s resources. Cardboard is an eco-friendly alternative to other materials, in that it is 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable. While durable, it is comprised of 50 percent air, making it extremely lightweight and versatile. Cardboard also has excellent sound absorption properties, making it a great acoustic solution for the food industry. Before being able to build with cardboard, NUDES researched the material in depth, which included testing cardboard with humidity, water resistance, and temperature fluctuations. After conducting thorough research, NUDES took to sculpting the café's bespoke furniture, light fixtures, accessories, and architectural elements entirely from cardboard. Designers stacked layers of cardboard to create the base of the chairs, and they laminated the cardboard tabletops—some of which cantilever from undulating cardboard wall partitions—with a wax treatment to prevent food and water damage. Even the walls are crafted from sinuous waves of cardboard fluting that, when layered next to each other, form intricate patterns, textures, and free-flowing geometries. The project took about seven months to complete, including four months of model-making and three months of construction. While Cardboard Bombay is India's first café suited up with cardboard, let's hope that it won't be the last.
Weiss/Manfredi is bringing an update to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. Yesterday, the New York–based firm released initial renderings of its redesign for the 28-acre site along with potential plans to restore the modernist Chancery Building, designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1958. The 61-year-old campus sits in New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, a verdant city built in the mid-19th century for wealthy locals and other embassies. Using a long-term masterplan that hinges on security and an extensive, connective landscape, the design team will add new construction to the embassy’s property, including an office building for the ambassador and staff, as well as a support annex featuring space for more offices and a health unit. Five small entry pavilions will also be integrated at the edges of the campus as welcoming points for visitors. Weiss/Manfredi, the award-winning firm led by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, has worked on the masterplan for the embassy since 2014. In collaboration with the State Department, the practice has come up with a design that both fits the functional needs of the U.S. government and honors India’s architectural heritage. According to the architects, the new construction will complement Indian vernacular architecture with materials that are used both locally and nationally, as well as with design motifs that evoke the ancient traditions of the country. For example, the new office building and support annex will be clad in interwoven pre-cast concrete fins featuring white Makrana marble. This design move serves as a nod to the jali (or perforated) screens used in Indian homes. Other common Indian stones such as Golden Teak sandstone, Kota limestone, and Ambaji white marble will also be used throughout the campus. Due to New Delhi’s hot and variable climate, each piece of architecture will feature some type of shading component or cover. The main office structure, which appears to have a slightly curved stone facade facing the chancery, will be topped with a deep, flat canopy roof. On the edge of the campus will be a giant reflecting pool, providing evaporative cooling for the surrounding structures. Garden walls, open green spaces, and shaded seating will be scattered throughout the public areas, while all functional zones will be connected via a tree-lined promenade that will extend to both sides of the campus. Initial construction on the support annex is expected to begin this spring. In total, the project is set to take seven to eight years to complete and will be built in two phases.
“The way we cool our buildings right now is totally wrong,” said Indian architect Monish Siripurapu in a video produced the United Nations' Environment program. The words are bleak, but arguably true; the electricity and hydrofluorocarbons most modern cooling systems demand ironically warm the planet overall while they cool our conditioned spaces. On top of that, with global temperatures rising and worldwide populations growing, demands for cooling are only increasing. More eco-friendly options are urgently needed, and Siripurapu’s New Delhi–based firm Ant Studio has proposed an affordable, scalable, sustainable, and aesthetically appealing solution to the problem of air conditioning. Ant Studio’s mission is to combine “art, nature, and technology,” and its temperature-regulating solution is designed to be as much an art installation as a cooling system. The Beehive, as the system's first iteration is called, was built to ameliorate high-temperature conditions for laborers at the Noida, Uttar Pradesh–based manufacturer Deki Electronics, where generators and other equipment output their own heat, adding to high outdoor temperatures. The Beehive is part of a larger exploration by the firm that leverages terracotta tubes and water as part of a low-energy cooling system. The Beehive, so-named for its honeycomb-like structure, follows an Indian tradition of using earthenware to cool water. “Traditional architecture has so much wisdom,” said Siripurapu. The ancient process has been wholly modernized, with tools such as computational fluid dynamics modeling, as well as the addition of low-energy water pumps and, if needed, electric fans. But instead of using fans with the Beehive installation, Ant Studio’s cooling device was placed right in front of the exhaust vents of the diesel generator near where workers at the factory were active. This was able to drop the “scorching” air being expelled from the generator from 122 degrees Fahrenheit to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, while lowering the overall temperature in the area and reportedly consuming 40 percent less energy than other cooling systems, not to mention using no refrigerants. The cooling system consists of arrays of open terracotta cylindrical cones (designed in such a way to maximize surface area and fired at “mid-level” temperatures to maintain the clay’s ability to absorb moisture from the air) over which water is poured. The water, which adheres to the clay, naturally lowers in temperature due to evaporative cooling, which in turn cools the air passing through the tubes. The water can be recycled throughout the system, requiring only infrequent topping off, and biofilms of microalgae that grow on the clay surfaces can actually aid in air purification, according to the firm. Further, as explained in an informational video from the firm, “all materials are recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable.” While the Beehive at Dika Electronics took on a particular nature-inspired form, the system can be designed in all manner of shapes and sizes, and is inherently modular, making fabrication and assembling on-site simple. The overall hope with the project is to devise a system that is “functional and visually appealing at the same time.” Ant Studio views the cooling systems as a work of sculpture as much as a functional tool. The terracotta cooling systems also could have broader social impact. Besides being a cheap, energy-efficient way to cool factories and public spaces, the craft required to manufacture the tubes creates local employment and skill-building opportunities. It also keeps alive traditional manufacturing techniques that provide a unique, hand-hewn character that industrial cooling systems certainly lack. The clay-based materials also mean a net reduction in embodied energy for these cooling systems. Ant Studio has also proposed a smaller system which they’re calling ETHER, a cooling device for personal use and small spaces that resembles something like a cross between a Dyson fan and an ancient artifact. Ant Studio’s cooling projects were one of the twelve winners of the United Nations’ Asia-Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge and have been nominated for the Clean Energy Challenge from What Design Can Do, a “platform” and series of global conferences on design. Nominated teams are given the “opportunity to improve their project” with the final winners to be announced on March 6.
Gujarat, India, now boasts the tallest statue in the world. The nearly 600-foot-tall Statue of Unity, completed on November 1, is a bronze duplicate of India’s first deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was designed and master planned by Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA) and is intended to anchor what will eventually become a resort. The monument took eight years to design and four to build. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the time still the chief minister of Gujarat, first proposed the sculpture in 2010 and construction began in 2014. The statue proper, designed by Indian sculptor Ram V. Sutar, reaches nearly 50-stories tall and sits on a three-tiered base that boosts the height to its record-breaking status. The geometrically-sculpted base sits on its own riverine island and is connected to the mainland via a pedestrian and road bridge. Inside, guests are met with a visitor’s center, hotel, and an exhibition hall, all of which is topped with a memorial garden. Part of the challenge that MGA faced in designing an occupiable structure—a 500-foot-tall viewing platform in the chest is accessible through elevators that run through the statue—is the sculpture’s “walking pose.” The non-symmetrical pose posed a challenge in orienting the base, and MGA managed to hide the zig-zagging elevator system inside of the memorial’s flowing robes. Two structural concrete cores were used to anchor the Statue of Unity, which support the steel framework (cast from scrap sourced all over India) attached to the 2,000 tons of exterior bronze paneling. Vallabhai Patel was a central figure in the Indian independence struggle as well as the unification of India’s 567 British vassal states into one country. A rammed earth wall, constructed from dirt taken from every state in India, is used at the State of Unity’s base as a background for the national flag. The $460 million statue won’t be the world’s tallest for long, as similar megaprojects are already in the pipeline. The Spring Temple Buddha in China, knocked down to second place, is planning to add its own podium and boost its height from 500 feet to 682 feet tall, and a 695-foot-tall statue of the Indian warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji is slated to open off of the coast of Mumbai in 2020.
Over the last decade, the renewable energy industry has boomed due to the proliferation of new technology that is reducing the cost of construction and long-term operability. However, one critical problem still remains: storing renewable energy during lulls in wind speed or sun exposure is often prohibitively expensive. In response to this issue, Energy Vault, a subsidiary of California’s IdeaLab, has recently announced a straightforward mechanism for the conservation of renewable sources using kinetic forces. The mechanism proposed by Energy Vault is a nearly 400-foot tall, six-armed steel crane. Using proprietary software, the towering structure orchestrates the placement of 35-ton blocks of concrete in response to drop-offs in demand and fluctuations in environmental conditions. How does it work? As power demand decreases, the cranes surround themselves with concentric rings of the concrete bricks lifted by the leftover power from surrounding wind and solar farms. Once demand increases, the cranes begin lowering the bricks, which powers turbines that transform the kinetic energy into electricity that gets pumped back into the grid. Energy Vault’s team looked toward preexisting renewable energy sources that rely on gravitational forces. According to Energy Vault, the technology was influenced by energy retention strategies of hydroelectric power dams that pump water into a series of cisterns on higher ground that ultimately flow downwards into energy turbines once demand rises. Unlike conventional resources used for the retention of renewable energy, such as Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack lithium-ion stationary batteries, the system developed by Energy Vault does not rely on chemical storage solutions or high-cost materials. Recycled debris from preexisting construction sites can be used for the fabrication of the bricks, which are viable for up to four decades without a decrease in storage capacity. Currently, Energy Vault is partnering with India’s Tata Power Company Limited to construct an initial 35 MWh system with an expected date of completion in 2019.
One of the world’s most dogged transportation professionals—and former head of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)—will now head up Virgin’s venture into high-speed rail service. The Verge reported that Jay Walder has left his role as CEO of bike-sharing company, Motivate, in order to lead Los Angeles–based Virgin Hyperloop One, which appears to be in financial trouble after it publicly laid off 40 staff members yesterday. Walder will replace Rob Lloyd, who ran the young company for three years but stepped down for undisclosed reasons. After serving stints in both Hong Kong and London, helping both growing cities overhaul their mass transit systems, Walder comes to Virgin Hyperloop One with serious street cred that largely centers around the financial and physical success at his previous jobs. In his latest position, he led Motivate through a massive upswing, improving and expanding New York's Citi Bike and similar programs across the county. Motivate was acquired by Lyft this summer. During his tenure at the MTA, Walder instigated technological advancements and tried to pull the organization out of its never-ending financial troubles, despite his rocky time there. The news of Walder’s appointment comes as the transportation technology startup aims to spur more investment and build its first fully operational high-speed rail in India. The planned route will take people from Mumbai to Pune in just 25 minutes. Last month, Saudi Arabia nixed a deal to construct a hyperloop in that country after former chairman Richard Branson criticized the kingdom’s alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis announced a $1 billion investment in Virgin Galactic, another venture by Branson, after Branson stepped down as the chairman at Hyperloop. While Hyperloop’s former chief executive Lloyd hasn’t explicitly named the controversy as his main reason for leaving the company, he did refuse to attend Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Future Investment Initiative conference late last month where the organization planned to make the hyperloop deal official. There they aimed to begin conducting a feasibility study on “the Vision 2030 Hyperloop Pod,” which Lloyd and his team unveiled last April. With Branson and Lloyd gone, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stepped in as the new chairman. His company, DP World, a UAE-based shipping and logistics group, is now Virgin Hyperloop One’s largest investor. Virgin Hyperloop One is currently testing its latest technology at a site in Nevada’s Mojave Desert and aims to begin construction on a six-mile test segment in India in 2019. It's working on a feasibility study for a Missouri track as well. Because of Walder’s track record of bringing struggling transit organizations into the 21st century and creating financial gains for giants like Motivate, many think his “real world” knowledge will bring tangible momentum to the futuristic Virgin Hyperloop One.
Rapid urban growth and growing inequality has created a global crisis in housing that increasingly segregates the rich from the poor. Though not fully understood, there is a clear and parallel relationship between the size of a city and its level of socio-economic disparity: the larger the city, the less equal it tends to be. Physical and social segregation, which both reflects and perpetuates socio-economic disparity within a city, is a growing concern in cities worldwide - including Mumbai. The long-term success of a city depends on the collective well-being of all its inhabitants. To what extent can architecture support social inclusion and break down spatial segregation within the megacity? arch out loud challenges competition entrants to design a mixed residence development on one of the last undeveloped sections of Mumbai’s coastline. Entrants will design for both the indigenous fishing community that has occupied the site for hundreds of years - as well as a new demographic drawn to the affluent neighborhood that now encompasses the site. Proposals should identify architectural and planning solutions that support integration between these socio-economically distinct communities. JURY Neil Denari - Neil M Denari Architects | UCLA AUD Joshua Ramus - Founding Principal, REX Zeina Koreitem - Founder, MILLIØNS | Harvard GSD Thom Moran - Founder, T + E + A + M | University of Michigan Taubman College Tei Carpenter - Founder, Director, Agency-Agency | Columbia GSAPP Ahmed ElHusseiny - Founder, AE Superlab Olalekan Jeyifous - Artist/ Designer, Vigilism.com Nate Appleman - Director, HOK Sports Recreation & Entertainment Ola-Dele Kuku - Architect & Artist Andres Jaque - Founder, Andres Jaque Architects - Office for Political Innovation | Columbia GSAPP REWARDS Prizes total to $8,000 OVERALL WINNER - $5,000 + AO feature and certificate 3 Runners up - $1,000 each + AO feature and certificate 10 Honorable Mentions - AO feature and certificate Directors Choice - AO feature and certificate CALENDAR Advanced Registration: Jul 23 - Sep 10 Early Registration: Sep 11 - Oct 29 Regular Registration: Oct 30 - Dec 16 Submission Deadline: Dec 17 To register and view more info and models visit www.archoutloud.com/waste
Anthony Acciavatti, Columbia GSAPP Professor and award-winning author, delivered a lecture at Greenpoint creative space A/D/O earlier this week on his 2015 book titled Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River. The event is part of the company's #Waterfutures Research Program that challenges designers and researchers to rethink the global drinking water crisis. Acciavatti reflected on his decade-long fieldwork where he traveled by foot, boat, and car to document the Ganges River basin from its source in the Himalayas to the historic city of Patna nearly 1,000 kilometers downstream. During the lecture, Acciavatti explained the difficulties of obtaining satellite imagery at a time when web-mapping services such as Google Maps were not yet invented. Instead, he resorted to designing and building his own instruments to map and visualize the region’s data. As a founding partner at Somatic Collaborative, Acciavatti is now actively working with his partner Felipe Correa, who was recently named Chair of Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, as well as Indian authorities to realize his research and designs for the region. The Ganges is a trans-boundary river, which crosses India, Bangladesh, and other South Asian countries. According to various reports, the Ganges is highly polluted by human activity, but it still is the source of drinking water for over 400 million people. Acciavatti's book doesn't focus on the region’s pollution, but instead investigates the 19th century British engineering that made the network of irrigation canals and aqueducts possible. He was also interested in identifying the political implications of how water became a powerful political resource throughout the river’s historical evolution and what it means today.
Polychromatic, Le Corbusier-inspired postmodern churches in Kerala are hidden gems of India that were recently photographed by art studio Haubitz + Zoche. In the series titled Hybrid Modernism, the post-colonial churches built after the country’s independence in 1947 are efforts by Indian architects to reinterpret Western influences and develop an identifiable local language with bright colors and sculptural forms. In post-independence India, Le Corbusier was responsible for the master plan of Chandigarh, a city in the north of India. He also built influential buildings such as the High Court, which became famous for the play of colors contrasted against the beton brut surfaces. His style made its way across the country into the architecture of Kerala, a southern state in India. Haubitz+Zoche shunned the popular churches and pilgrimage centers in Kerala, but explored the lesser-known ones that contain a variety of Western influences, Corbusian and beyond. A mixture of postmodern motifs can be seen in the architecture. Sculptures of stars, crosses, globes, and Bibles populate the facades, conveying the world-encompassing, light-radiating themes of Christianity. The photographs are an extension to their work from 2014, when they captured the extravagantly ornamented movie theaters of South India. A similar cinematic sense can be discerned from the region’s religious architecture. An exhibition of the photos, titled Postcolonial Epiphany: Churches and cinemas in South-India, is now on view at Zephyr, a modern art museum in Mannheim, Germany. The exhibition highlights the spellbinding magic with which these venues captivate their audiences. Visitors can experience the architecture’s otherworldly attraction by looking at the photographs.