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To mark arq’s twenty-first anniversary, we are making available a ‘virtual issue’ comprising 21 articles from the journal’s first 21 years. This collection illustrates arq’s coverage of the breadth of architectural endeavour, its originality, liveliness, and relevance to practitioners, academics and students.
From phenomenal observation to value recognition, from design strategy to concrete methodology, the everyday world brings direct inspiration to Atelier Archmixing's architectural practice. Through participant observation of the urban and rural built environment, together with various design experiences from different projects, the practice defines the neutral spatial phenomenon of constant accumulation, change and adjustment as ‘Spatial Redundancy’; they respond with design strategies that flexibly apply various concepts, technologies and approaches without prejudice, describing their consequences as ‘Unrecognisable System’. Both concepts aim at opening up new possibilities for architecture drawn from the everyday world and rooted in China's rapid urbanisation.
The sun control device has to be on the outside of the building, an element of the facade, an element of architecture. And because this device is so important a part of our open architecture, it may develop into as characteristic a form as the Doric column.
Victor Olgyay (1910–1970), a Hungarian architect who came to the United States in 1947 with his twin brother and collaborator, Aladár (1910–1963), is best known today as the author of Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism (1963), an important book often referenced in the environmental building design field . As leaders in research in bioclimatic architecture from the early 1950s to the late 1960s, the Olgyay brothers could be considered the ‘fathers’ of contemporary environmental building design. Their research and publications laid the foundation for much of the building simulation software in use today. Other than the difference between working on graph paper and using computer-generated graphics, there is little difference between Autodesk's Ecotect Analysis (simulation and building energy analysis software) and the Olgyays' techniques for the analysis of environmental factors and graphical representation of climate. The manner in which the Olgyays established connections between building design and the science of climate laid the foundation for the development of environmental simulation, one of contemporary architecture's leading methods of form generation. Victor Olgyay's teaching, however, represents another kind of thinking, a broader concern for architecture, beyond energy performance. ‘The primary task of architecture,’ Olgyay announced to his students, ‘is to act in man's favour; to interpose itself between man and his natural surroundings in order to remove the environmental load from his shoulders.
Architects, engineers and researchers alike often cite practical reasons for building with wood. Since the development of curved glulam beams and columns over a century ago, the widespread use of massive structural timber elements has allowed architects and engineers to design and build in wood with unprecedented speed and scale. Moreover, rising concerns of climate change and the carbon-dioxide emissions associated with construction encourage the use of wood as a viable alternative to steel and concrete, due to CO2 sequestration in trees.
In mid- and high-rise buildings, the current shift from steel and concrete towards massive structural timber elements like glulam, laminated-veneer lumber (LVL) and cross-laminated timber (CLT) is evident in a number of recently completed timber buildings in Europe, ranging from seven to nine storeys. Several speculative design proposals have also been made for ‘timber towers’ of thirty, fortytwo and even sixty-five storeys, recognising that designing with massive structural timber elements in high-rise buildings is still in its infancy. This paper offers a new perspective on building with wood at this scale, beyond carbon sequestrationand construction.
As a discipline, architects pride themselves on the precision and exactitude of their spatial endeavors – no minutiae is too small, no details too inconsequential. However, when exactitude becomes the representational aspiration of architecture, when the images architects produce ‘almost exactly’ deliver the reality they hope to soon conjure, a tautology ensues. This article explores the exigencies of the ⅞ scale – a scale that is almost exactly but not quite the same as reality. It is the remaining ⅛ that eschews representational tautology, that produces the effect of exactness, and that populates architecture's historical and spatial imaginaries. Through the lens of one highly symbolic and historically configured room, the Oval Office, this article attempts to map the hazards and pitfalls of realism as a disciplinary aspiration, while simultaneously embracing the figurative realm of the ⅛ and the promise of its imaginative potential.
The standard construction contract in the UK, such as JCT 2005, is designed to balance time, quality and cost. Typically, the contract documents consist of a bespoke design described by a full package of drawings and a specification describing quality, techniques and materials. These enable a contractor to offer a fixed price for the work and establish a programme and the aim is to provide a level of financial security that leaves little to error or to contingent forces. That, at least, is the theory. In practice, there are few contracts that run as smoothly as the theory suggests, which accounts for the myriad case law in this area.
In preparing the contract documents, an architect conventionally begins their work by acting as agent for the client. Once appointed, s/he develops the brief with the client and/or users, designs the building and guides the scheme through the regulatory system, describing it in sufficient detail to allow a contractor to arrive at an accurate cost. After this, the ways in which a building can be procured can vary considerably. This article focuses on what happens under a Design and Build (D&B) contract.
The ‘Compact City’ model of sustainable development relies almost exclusively on transport energy analysis to justify the raising of low residential densities by the insertion of higher density dwellings within them. Higher densities mean more people per hectare, which makes public transport more economically viable, which cuts down on car use, which saves transport energy. Suburbs are very popular, however - over 80% of the populations of the UK and the US would prefer to live in them - and they can't all be bulldozed or ‘densified’. Turning the Compact City model on its head frees us to ask what environmental advantages low densities might have. Most suburbs have abundant open land, and land can perform: grow food and fuel, collect and recycle water, modify harsh microclimates, save and generate energy. The ‘performative’ potential of the suburban landscape can transform it into a grown infrastructure contributing to the reduction of the overall environmental impact of a city region, justifying its relatively low densities.
The spectacular surroundings of Kielder Water & Forest Park, in Northumberland, England, are a confluence of opposing states: the man-made and natural; the utilitarian and recreational; the beautiful and isolated; shaped by weather converging from east and west. Kielder Castle was built in 1775 as the Duke of Northumberland's hunting lodge. In recent years the territory has gained notoriety for a series of innovative art and architectural commissions including Belvedere by Softroom Architects (1999), Kielder Skyspace by the American artist James Turrell (2000), Minotaur by architect Nick Coombe and artist Shona Kitchen (2003), and Kielder Observatory by Charles Barclay Architects (2008). This paper outlines one of Kielder's most recent additions – a shelter entitled 55/02 – the result of a collaboration between sixteen*(makers) and manufacturers Stahlbogen GmbH. The work rekindles the symbiotic relationship between design and making once central to the production of architecture. The reawakening of this tradition has been stimulated by the mainstream adaptation of CAD/CAM as an industrial and disciplinary medium which binds the protocols of drawing with those of fabrication. However, as this account of the project shows, the relevance of an increasingly digitised world extends beyond the production of 55/02 as an artefact – it forms the basis of the architecture's relationship with its locality as an industrial, historical, social, cultural and manufactured landscape .
This is a short tale of two competing institutions and two of their most celebrated figures. On one side is Cooper Union – that hulking Manhattan brownstone, an island on the intersection of Lafayette Street and the Bowery where Ricardo Scofidio (1935) silently honed his art of drawing like an angel. On the other is Princeton University, where his partner (and partner), Elizabeth Diller (1954) is often resident. Princeton sits in the heart of the New Jersey woods, literally and metaphorically, and despite its baronial coniferous presence, is most notable in architectural circles for its rhetorical rather than physical manufacture. Diller + Scofidio's is a marriage whose vicissitudes are etched all over their work.
‘This is an extraordinary group of buildings’, wrote Philip Johnson (then a Mies van der Rohe follower) when The Architectural Review published Alison and Peter Smithson's School at Hunstanton in September 1954. ‘… Here we have an unknown team … being allowed to win and build. Most surprising they are allowed to build not a conventional school, not even a Hertfordshire plan, but something quite the opposite of the prevailing trend … The plan is not only radical but good Mies van der Rohe, yet the architects have never seen Mies's work …’ In this paper, based upon a talk given at the Architectural Association School and on conversations with the Editor, Peter Smithson recalls the background to the project, its design and construction, his later visits to Chicago and a 1973 revisit to the building.
There are at present considerable concerns with how architectural research will be assessed in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) of 2008. In RAE 2001, most architectural research was submitted to one of three Units of Assessment (UoA): 33 Built Environment, 60 History of Art, Architecture and Design, and 64 Art and Design. There were subtle, but important, differences in output definition and assessment criteria between UoA 33 and UoA 64 with respect to practice-led research. Most importantly, in UoA 33 practice-led outputs were accepted by the panel, but only as publications, whereas UoA 64 assessed practice-led research outputs accompanied by a 300-word statement that clarified the contributions of that particular research to the development of original knowledge in the field. The diversity of methods and complexity of output types, combined with the composition of UoA 33, led to results that many feel did not properly reflect the strengths of architectural design, particularly practice-led research. This methodology essentially disenfranchised a significant part of the community from the rae process to the detriment not only of the community, but to the credibility of the process itself.
With the exciting period of construction following German reunification now over, German post-war reconstruction has finally come to an end. For a brief period, reunification enlivened the building market with great visions, but now the demand for architecture and employment in the construction industry has sunk dramatically.
Air conditioning is now recognized as a significant factor in global
warming and climate change. In the search for alternatives, passive
downdraught evaporative cooling (PDEC) is proving to be both
technically and economically viable in different parts of the world.
Brian Ford describes the principles and current practice of this
innovative approach to cooling in the hot dry regions of the world.
This analysis shows how the increasing availability of computers in
architectural practice and the steady development of electronic
networks around the world could encourage the relocation of
professional structures into countries with lower production costs.
Starting from the existence of sharp professional wage differentials
between developed and developing regions, it formulates the
hypothesis that, in a few years, most architectural work could be
documented in places such as South-East Asia and transferred
digitally over to America, Australia or Europe.
Wishing to write about his work, I approached Peter Zumthor in
February 1996. We agreed to do something substantial but still
accessible, and eventually settled on the format of a long interview.
We then chose three of his buildings that would raise different issues
– the now famous Thermal Baths in Vals, the Wohnsiedlung
Spittelhof and Topography of Terror in Berlin.Readers unfamiliar with these three buildings will find them comprehensively described and illustrated in the superb Peter Zumthor Works: buildings and projects 1979–97 with text by Peter Zumthor and photographs by Hélène Binet, published by Lars Müller Publishers, Baden, 1998, ISBN 3-907044-58-4. This and the related Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor were the subject of an extended review in arq 3/1.
The interviews were held in English on 22 July 1997 over the course of
the day in his studio in Haldenstein. They are published in the order
in which they were held. We edited them together in August 2000,
resisting the desire to amend them.
I first learnt of his work in 1988 when he was a visiting professor at
the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Santa Monica
where he first delivered the lecture later published as ‘A Way of
Looking at Things’. I would like to thank him for agreeing to share his
thoughts on architecture, and for the often difficult and
unfashionable reminder that to do things well takes time.
This paper was written for a special issue of the Ekaterinburg Architecton devoted to the rich Constructivist heritage of that hitherto closed city beyond the Urals. Docomomo-Russia has an active working party there, but the combination of public poverty and vigorous real-estate pressures is making the fate of these buildings uncertain. This paper sought to offer some fundamental structuring ideas to the debate. We publish it here to stimulate discussion of problems also current elsewhere, but the author stresses that it should be read with its original purpose and audience in mind.
This winning design in the 1998 Lichterfelde Süd International Landscape and Urban Design Competition is for the regeneration of a former military training ground on the southern boundary of Berlin. The brief was for a new urbanism of the periphery, with 3200 dwellings on a 115 hectare site. The design is a continuation of research embracing conditions of uncertainty and change on mainly post-industrial or former military sites. It could be described as a fragment of an infrastructural urbanism in preparation for an unpredictable diversity of architectures.