Architecture in a critical time: Glimpses from Jeanne Gang a paper by Greg Lindsay

I just posted, in ULGC Tumblr, some glimpses of a paper on Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang written by Greg Lindsay on The Wall Street Journal online. But, continuing my reading, I found Gang's statement in the right path of my previous posts on architecture in a depressed economy. Below an abstract of Lindsay's paper:
Rendered view of Northerly Island ı Creating an Ecological Urban Habitat | © Studio Gang
> Anticipated Phase I announced to be completed by 2015

We're at the end of a boom that demanded architects focus on iconic buildings that prized shape over structure and form. On the plus side, it pushed forward our understanding of both. Some of the buildings completed in the last 10 years would not have been possible at any other time in history. The fact the Burj Khalifa in Dubai exists blows my mind — it's just awesome. But now we're at the dawn of a new mode of work requiring cross-collaboration, and somebody who can see all the different facets of a problem is critical. We see it in science all the time, where none of the most important problems can be tackled by a single discipline.
For our work exploring the future of suburbia, we asked, "How can we deal with a polluted postindustrial landscape while making room for more residents and giving them space to both live and work?" In Cicero, a Chicago suburb with thousands of foreclosures and a booming immigrant population, we interviewed local residents, real-estate developers, housing, immigration and financial-policy experts and even the owners of the freight rail lines that run through town. I assembled a team that knew their way around the suburbs, including people like Theaster Gates, an artist who knows how to start dialogues with communities. We synthesized our ideas into a proposal: select an abandoned factory site, salvage its materials and reuse them to build à la carte housing that better fits the needs of extended immigrant families. The project is a completely new way of envisioning the suburbs, integrating all aspects of life instead of separating them into live, work and play.
Architects have a powerful role to play in solving some of society's most pressing issues, like urbanization. The design of a city can either make life exciting or pure hell. I think we have something important to offer. That's probably one reason a lot of us at Studio Gang still work into the late hours of the night. What drives us is the possibility of making a breakthrough. That's my adrenaline: To think that, one of these nights, we might end up changing the world.
Plan of Northerly Island | © Studio Gang

Click on the link to access to the entire paper.

Weekread 002: Architecture in an age of depletion; CLOG discussing Brutalism; A Small Lab and Tokyo Green Space exploring Tokyo's gardens on a water bus; everything else

CLOG opens the discussion on Brutalism, the topic of its forthcoming issue, on the Glass House Conversations with this question Should we consider Brutalism as an ethic or an aesthetic? You can answer on Glass House Conversations. Note: 11 days left…

The little publication Pidgin is back with a 14th issue edited by Aleksandr Bierig, Julia Chapman, Ivi Diamantopoulou, Anna Knoell, and Gabriel Fries-Briggs. Contributors are: Phoebe Springstubb, Paul Lewis, Griffin Ofiesh, Laura Isabel Ettedgui, Henry Ng, Jesse Seegers, Trudy Watt, J. Brantley Hightower, Grayson Cox, Michal Koszycki, Ang Li, J. Robert Hillier, and William Sims.
Rendered view of Regeneration of Martiri Partigiani Plaza | © LED Architecture

The industrial city is in mutation. One (among many others) reason is the digitisation of manufacturing which is transforming in depth fabrication of goods, The Economist reported in April. The first two industrial eras made us richer and more urban. How will the third revolution turn? Who knows. What is at stake, however, is the future of industrial cities: as companies are closing their doors, what futures for the industrial areas? An example is furnished with Ömer Kanipak's paper titled Dirty City posted on The Istanbul Design Biennial online journal edited by Emre Arolat and Domus's editor-in-chief Joseph Grima posted the 23red October 2012. Istanbul's industrial areas and commercial zones of small-scale manufacturers and industrial products are changing rapidly. Henceforth, luxury residences, shopping centres are replacing industrial areas. And this has a price: by-product city. A city — note: Istanbul is far from being the exception — now is becoming shaped by and for… its consumers. As Ömer Kanipak points out, "What underlies this transformation is the anxiety to build more housing and facilities to accommodate more tourists." Like a large majority of post-industrial cities, Istanbul, "that has once embraced the immediate aesthetic of engineering and technology as the indicator of modernization and advancement, is now viewing industry and all its emanations through a different perspective. All the visible elements of the infrastructure that make a city into what it is, are decorated or covered out of sight. Greater industrial areas and structures that cannot be hidden out of view are merely awaiting the barbarous arms of bulldozers to make space for luxury residences and hostels. Ultimately Istanbul is evolving into a new city, shiny and hygienic, yet devoid of all its patina and memories."
Zeiterstrasse 5, Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg | © Zanderroth Architekten
Image courtesy Zanderroth Architekten

Adhocacy. So is today's architecture… according to the curators of this edition of Istanbul Design Biennial.
Recent Domus, for instance, explores a new architecture that, despite austerity, privileges people who make things, namely "a race between bureaucracy and improvisation, authority and the irrepressible force of networks, in search of a new language and a new commons."
About an evidence: the results from austerity are: much of projects are slowed up, if they are not cancelled. The economic leanness is impacting a large number of architects.
Yet austerity brings good news: architecture, this spoiled child of the two first industrial ages, is forced to get rid of the residue of dominant economic forces.
Rendered view of Scotswood Expo | courtesy of Fashion Architecture Taste

Architects are attempting to do more with less. This is the price of austerity in a depressed economy.

According to Jeremy Till, who, recently, guest-edited, for the Architectural Design magazine, an issue dedicated to scarcity, scarcity opens up new possibilities for redistributing what already exists. While austerity privileges the "more with less" since, in my view, being self-defeating, Till, on the contrary, argues for "different kind of activity in which the creativity of the designer is focused not on objects but on the processes that precede and follow the making of objects."
Bronx Park East (2007 -) ı Supportive Housing | © Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects
Image courtesy of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects
Jeremy Till poses a very pertinent question: "What if architects took on the creative challenge of redefining those quantities and cost and construction materials in light of such pressing realities as finite resource flows and proliferating waste streams?"
> "Renew Newcastle makes temporary use of empty space for artists and creative enterprises, Newcastle, Australia." Jeremy Till
Map by Renew Newcastle
Image originally appeared on Design Observer

Uncube Magazine posted an interview titled AircraftCarrier about the Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition Aircraftcarrier — American Ideas and Israeli Architecture after 1973 and the accompanying book. The exhibition and the book — that I have not read yet — explore "the connections between Israel's fraught political position and the country's adoption of capitalistic systems": "With the current dynamic of the region, there's no telling where things will go. However, I do believe architecture can take an active part in the shaping of the social and political spheres. In the last four decades, Israeli architecture copied almost everything, and not always successfully. But now we are at the point where we can discuss the mechanisms behind the formation of Israeli space. These mechanisms became so degenerated that today the system is destroying itself. This moment of weakness is the loophole through which architects can act as dormant agents in the heart of capitalist development, and work to change it from within. On the way, maybe we will even have better architecture."

Urban exploration in Tokyo. October, 30th, 2012: Still City Tokyo — Tokyo by water, a project proposed by Jared Braiterman of Tokyo Green Space and Chris Berthelsen of A Small Lab. Jared Braiterman and Chris Berthelsen will visit a traditional Japanese garden near Shibaura House on a water bus up the Sumida River, Tokyo. The program: The traditional Japanese garden at Hamarikyu Garden; Boat up the Sumida River to Asakusa to meet at Hinode Pier's Waterbus Station; Exploration of the old Tokyo at Asakusa. If you have a chance…

Studio Magazine's third issue is out. The topic is Icon. Contributors are: BIG, Klaus, Leopold Lambert (The Funambulist), Fake Industries, Jose Davila, Nicola Emery, Serafina Amoroso, Clet Abraham, Boa Mistura, Scott Budzynski, Léa Caillard, Alicia Guerrero Yeste, Fredy Massad, Franco Purini, RRC Studio, Luis Santiago Baptista, Leslie Sklair, Guido Tesio, WAI Think Tank.

The Guardian Books announced a new book on the London Underground titled Underground: How The Tube Shaped London by David Bownes, Oliver Green and Sam Mullins, a mix of social history with the pioneering engineers, designers, and social reformers that shaped today's London.
1922 | © Tfl from the London Transport Museum collection
> "A crowded platform at Piccadilly Circus underground station. A parliamentary select committee set up in 1919 to investigate congestion, overcrowding and fare increases on the tube said the problem had become 'a public scandal' but because London's public transport system remained in the hands of various private companies, a coordinated solution was impossible." [The Guardian Books]

I am currently reading The Action is the Form. Victor Hugo's TED Talk, an ebook written by Keller Easterling. I am among these readers who are impatiently waiting for her forthcoming book Extrastatecraft (an abstract is available on Design Observer titled Zone: The Spatial Softwares of Extrastatecraft). This ebook is part of a series of ebooks edited by British author and critic of architecture Justin McGuirk and published by Moscow and London-based Strelka Press, a platform for international debate. Below an abstract:
The TED audience will recognize Hugo's supernatural giant with a thousand heads and a thousand arms as an apt model for the role of space in global politics. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being made, not in the language of law and diplomacy, but rather by contagious spatial formulas. Often at a remove from familiar legislative processes, these infrastructures generate defacto forms of polity faster than official forms of governance can legislate them.
For example, the infrastructural model for Dubai and Shenzhen — the free trade zone — provides one glimpse of the giant. In the early 20th century, the free trade zone was a fenced compound for storing custom-free goods. As those compounds began to incorporate manufacturing, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation began to promote the form as an industrial installation to kick-start the economies of developing countries. With administrations that are separate from tier host state, the zone offers exemptions were designed to avoid local bureaucracy, soon every corporation and every urban function wanted in. As a test of free market principles, China adopted the form for an entire city, first and most notably in Shenzhen, and incentivised urbanism has since become a global addiction. HITEC City in Hyderabad or King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia join scores of other similar zone "cities" around the world. Many adorn their corporate office parks with glittering skyscrapers and ecstatic signals of national pride as they celebrate entry into a network of similar zones. Growing exponentially, zone cities appear in almost every country — some a few hectares, some a few kilometres in size. The zone has swallowed the city.
The book is available in two formats: Kindle and iPad (check out your local Amazon and iTunes for further information). I will go back to this ebook for a review soon.

Source: CLOG, Still City Tokyo, Uncube Magazine, Scarcity contra Austerity, NCR-06 Industry - Dirty City/Istanbul Design Biennial, The Guardian, Still City.


Review | Magazine | Domus 962: Long Live the Crisis!

The new issue of Domus no962 interrogates architecture at its very turning point: in the wake of financial crisis, architectural practices are changing. Indeed, the economic crisis appears to encourage architecture to redefine its 'function', methodologically, intellectually, politically, economically, professionally, ethically and, not to mention, aesthetically. As is implicit in this 962th issue of Domus, architecture attempts to adopt a critical posture to cope with the question in creative ways.

Domus 962

It seems to me that this issue is the connection between some projects displayed in the 13th edition of the International Architecture Biennale, like, to quote a few, Spontaneous Interventions, the theme of the US Pavilion, — which explores an architecture "acting on [its] own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public." — and Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2013. In particular these questions chief curator Beatrice Galilée,  and curators José EsparzaLiam Young and Mariana Pestana raise: "What is Architecture in the Time of Crisis?" and "For Whom Do We Design, and Why?" (many are coming).
What is at stake, as we will see, is this new issue brings to light an illustration of new approaches, or else, new purposes of design that raise a set of problems interconnected with financial crisis. Put the issue simply: architecture is in crisis.

On this topic
Jeremy Till | Scarcity contra Austerity || Design Observer

Architecture attempts to articulate the collective systems — ecology, economics, technologies, and society — to individual and collective experiences to redefine itself and adapt to changing situations. This 962th issue gathers essays to spotlight this redefinition of architecture unveiling how architecture tries to adapt to these changing issues. It attempts to describe the changing context for architects in personal experiences, trips, and analysis of architecture.

It seems to me that these essays and photoessays demand major revisions in how architecture conceives of life, building, individual and collective relations, environment, and economics. About the evidence: we are still not seeing the end of this long tunnel. Consequently, given reducing funding sources and projects, architecture must do more with less, with the existing, the déjà-là.

On this topic
Peter Buchanan | The Big Rethink || Architectural Review

But first off, a surprise: Jean-Philippe Vassal of Lacaton-Vassal. Vassal has spent for five years (1980 to 1985) in Niger as an architect and urban planner. He presents a photo-essays that documents his daily life in Africa. Jean-Philippe Vassal has worked as an architect and urban planner in Niger.

Take Jean-Philippe Vassal's neighbour, the hat maker for example. A hat maker, announced to be Vassal's neighbor, has built a precarious shelter made of
three tree branches and a piece of fabric, arranged behind a bush.
Or Market for construction materials to find materials to build huts,
These included tree branches about three metres long that could be used for frames; panels of sekko (millet stalks braided together) for walls (the braiding was sufficiently loose to let the wind through); rolls of rice straw to unroll on the roof that are sufficiently dense to protect against the rain; front doors made of timber frames and sealed with steel sheets and padlocks; 200-litre barrels for carrying water help pack and strengthen the sand floor (also used beforehand as a pedestal for a man to stand on to connect the tree branches of the frame at the top of the hut); palm-leaf rope used to connect each member and hold the entire structure in place; and beds made of crisscrossed tree branches, with reed mats to place over the frame.

Vassal's House on the dunes of Niamey, a house built "on the sand dunes formed on the bank by fresh air currents that roll off the axis of the [R]iver [Niger]." As Vassal notes:
The site was therefore particularly well ventilated. The house consisted of three elements: a straw ht to retreat to, an open yet enclosed space, and a "hangar" to receive guests and enjoy the view. Given that the house faced Niamey, the lights of the city at night sufficed to guide your way. It took six months to find the right site and two days for the villagers to build the house. And it took the wind two years to take it away again.
This photoessay announces the tone of this issue: DIY, temporary, scalable, mutable, flexibility, resistance, adaptation, anticipation, contingency… 

Followed by a set of essays and experiences on architecture in the time of crisis with Something Fantastic who tell their daily practices;  essays of: Jeannette Kunsmann on Kéré Architecture going back home to "share with his people the ideas that he learns elsewhere"; Nathalie Janson on Power House Productions and Project Row Houses demonstrating "how integrating the community in renewal projects can be an effective road to intelligent and sustainable urban renewal"; Susanne Schindler on Phipps-Rose-Dattner-Grimshaw, Jonathan Kirschenfeld, Peter Gluck and Partners, and SHoP Architects who envision a redefinition of the ins and outs of social housing in the heartland of capitalism; Jeannette Kunsmann, again, on Berlin-based Zanderroth Architekten who "adhere to the Baugruppe way of building, where homeowners make residential buildings without the intervention of a developer." Rainer Hehl went to Rio de Janeiro to photograph Cidade de Deus which has become an actual city inside its mother metropolis. This favelas is an "exemplary mix" of "spatial and social hybridisation"; Julia van Mende compares the Hartz IV programme, an open-source DIY, with the Bauhaus's criticism of industrial production models; How guns became musical instruments in a country gangrened by crime, José Esparza writes. 

He interrogates artist Pedro Reyes' transformation of guns into musical instruments to imagine a new life for the people of Mexico… as well as countries that daily struggle with urban violence. Finally from Dom-ino to Polykatoika. Pier Vittorio Aureli, Maria Giudici, Platon Issaias of the Berlage Institute look back at the concept of infill architecture, Le Corbusier's Dom-ino construction system to compare with the Greek polykatoikia multi-storey apartment building. The idea behind this is to reveal how it is possible to shift from static, inert architecture to vivid, stimulating collective and shared spaces.

How would we redefine the purpose of design?
This can be another question that this issue raises. And Self-sufficiency, self-organization, adaptation, anticipation can be first responses. In an essay, Scarcity Contra Austerity, posted on Design Observer, Jeremy Till writes,

We live in an age of austerity; or, rather, we are told that we live in an age of austerity. In the United States and throughout Europe, austerity is presented as a necessary stricture, and the mantra "cuts now, growth later" is repeated so steadily that it seems an inevitability, with consequences ranging from the personal (shortened shopping lists), to the public (cutbacks in major civic projects). As a discipline that spans the private-public spectrum, architecture inevitably is bound to this new regime, and so it is not surprising that the machinations of economic austerity are being played out in the mainstream of contemporary building.
So, yes, 99% of architects can feel a certain shift of the profession into an uncertain, precarious status. In fact, it is becoming not surprising to hear architects admitting that design work scarce which force a large percentage of them to combine architecture practice with teaching, lecturing, entering competitions. In a way, extravagant, signature buildings seem to be over… Stararchitecture's golden age seems to be the past…Large scale development projects seem to be over (…for a moment). 

If for most of architects' this period does not look bright, for some of them, in particular young beginners, this period, however, can be as critical and creative tool. For Berlin-based Something Fantastic, for instance, crisis should be understood as a positive strategy to rethinking architecture. For them creativity arises from crisis. Still, crisis becomes their driving force

The architect now intervenes on localized systems with the aim of changing cities and improving inhabitants' quality of life. The architect combines global with local to respond to glocal contexts. Diébédo Francis Kéré is back home, in Burkina Faso, to share ideas and tactics he learnt elsewhere. Kéré travelled to Germany where he studied architecture at Berlin's Technical University. He now shares knowledge with his fellow countrymen. 

Trajectories, tactics
Today's architects integrate other skills for a better control over the entire process, as Susanne Schindler says. Adaptation, anticipation, manière de faire… to do with the existing conditions of the site, the déjà-là. Certainly accentuated with crisis, architects investigate more and more off-site construction on irregular sites. Oh wait! Don't see this shift as a constraint: off-site construction "requires costless and efficiency." They will answer. 

As complex these sites are, architects, however, attempt to make the complex and negative conditions of irregular sites into positive and innovative solutions. This is the case of Jonathan KirschenfeldPhipps-Rose-Dattner-GrimshawPeter Gluck and PartnersSHoP Architects  and Zanderroth Architekten. "The architects deliberately chose the difficult position of the plot; they transformed the disadvantage of the northeast corner into the advantage of a new square (…)." Sascha Zander of Zanderroth Architekten says about the Baugruppe projects completed in 2008. By adapting to local constraints, the architect aims at taking profit from the site to provide all the characteristics a 'regular' site would have provided. Anticipation and adaption are also resistance. If concepts like participation, adaptation, resilience are becoming central, architects are more interested in "producing a better architectural result".

Doing with the existed, le déjà-là, with the goal of turning into innovative solutions, is a good way to revisit the city and the history of its architecture… but also to generate a new language… in particularly when funding sources lack. Pier Vittorio Aureli, Maria Giudici and Platon Issaias, are investigating the link between Le Corbusier's Dom-ino construction system, namely infill architecture, and Greek Polykatoikia apartment system. The aim, here, is to how by revisiting these ideas it is possible to regenerate "collective and shared space." 

This idea of re-interrogating Le Corbusier's infill architecture finds its pertinence in comparison with informal. Like informal, infill architecture here is envisioned as "a way to give space to inhabitants' creativity." Informal, we cannot deny, has stimulated participation of inhabitants by implicating them in building their own environment. So is infill architecture, the authors say taking the example of Polykatoikia. Both infill and informal are generic, adaptive, scalable, flexible, 

[F]lexibility is not only a positive quality, but also a fundamental apparatus of social engineering that controls the economy development of supposedly spontaneous settlements from the Brazilian favelas to the Turkish gecekondu.
The authors write. This is the case with Polykatoikia, "originally conceived in the 1930s as a multi-storey apartment building for the Athenian bourgeoisie (…) [promoting] local construction knowledge towards a coherent and yet flexible system of building techniques, materials, details and structural schemes." The Berlage Institute where the three authors work proposes to re-stimulate Polykatoikia with a "catalogue of architectural actions that aim to connect the fragmented dwellings into coherent and formally finite collective urban forms. These forms are the courtyard, the block, the street, and the most collective layer of the city: the ground floor."

These forms are the courtyard, the block, the street, and the most collective layer of the city: the ground floor. The flexibility and openness of the polykatoikia is thus manipulated towards the opposite scenario for which it was developed. While the Dom-ino approach encourages the individual house owner to become an independent entrepreneur who fills in, organises and manipulates his part of the skeleton, the forms we propose all imply a form of collective will and collaboration. The courtyard, the block, the street, and the ground floor become figures that can be rescued from the polykatoikia carpet. Our proposal radicalises there figures into distinct architectural archetypes.
Or a way of revealing Athens' qualities… "hidden under the chaos of an apparently informal development that is actually one of the most violent bio-political projects of the past century." 

Another text in the line of transforming negativity into positivity is José Esparza's essay named "Gun Politics" in which he discusses with artist Pedro Reyes how violence — guns — are turned into musical instruments. The idea behind Pedro Reyes's project titled Imagine is political. Pedro Reyes reveals how one of the most dangerous cities can reinvent itself for a better life for its inhabitants.

On Pedro Reyes:
Pedro Reyes in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist | Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews Volume II | Charta, 2010. Similar to this project is a project conceived in 2008 named Palas por Pistolas (Shovels for guns):
"One example is the Palas Por Pistolas project. It started with a series of TV spots, where the general public was invited to give up a gun, leaving the weapon with representatives of the army or the police. We collected 1,527 arms, which were made into 1,527 shovels used to plant 1,527 trees. Nearly four thousand people participated in this project, and yet very few of them thought of it as an art project. This is something that interests me quite a bit: how to make an artwork that is meaningful in a general context of culture — one that has currency beyond the small bubble of contemporary art. (…) The idea was to turn an agent of death into an agent of life. A kind of social alchemy. The arms were taken to a military zone where they were crushed by a steamroller. The metal was melted down then made into shovels. I want to a believe that by taking more than fifteen hundred arms out of circulation we might have saved a few lives, but the real purpose of the artwork is to add a story to the world, so in other cities they will say, 'In Culiacan they did this project…" [Pedro Reyes to Hans Ulrich Obrist, pp.792-793]

Probably one of the most impressive essays from this 962th issue. 
I wanted to liberate these objects from their demons rather than perpetuating their association to death. When the instruments are played, it is as if some sort of exorcism is performed on them, and the negativity they inherently posses turns into something positive.
Pedro Reyes confides to José Esparza. A good conclusion as it summarizes what is at stake in today's architecture: an architecture that tries to liberate itself, let's say it, from its demon to provide a better architecture for the people. 

Architecture is pushed in a critical position, necessitating new methods, new tools, and new problematic. 
Allow me for concluding with a claim I found on Close, Closer (Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2013): Crisis means change! says a certain J. S.…


The Editor's Pick | Video | Three Approaches To Architecture In Times of Crisis, by Itinerant Office

A video I just discovered on a young architecture firm based in Barcelona — Undo Arquitectos. This video is part of a video series that addresses architecture in the time of crisis titled Three Approaches to Architecture in Times of Crisis. This video series is directed by Itinerant Office, an Milano-based agency founded by Gianpiero Venturini.
This project started in 2011. Itinerant Office presents this video series as follows:

The crisis has changed the work systems of young architects, who upon graduating from university have had to adapt to the new conditions and reinvent their profession. This research project has focused on the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, three countries with different economic and political traits that have developed different methods of working. Without a doubt the Netherlands faces the least problematic situation, although dissatisfaction among young architects has been rising over recent months as the first effects of the financial crisis become apparent and subsidies  for cultural activities have been slashed. In Italy frequent government changes and legislation on labor structure and organization are essential elements in understanding this debate. In Spain the profession is facing one of its greatest crisis ever. More than anywhere else, the country has been a victim of an unprecedented speculation in real estate, while in the past 15 years governments, both right and left wing, together with the private parties, have invested great part of their capital in constructing new buildings, mostly for residential purposes. Today, most of these properties remain vacant or have been abandoned. In all three countries the situation is gradually becoming more complex: this project's objective is to promote a cultural exchange and foster a debate on the causes and consequences of the economic crisis and its effect on the architectural profession.
Below, the video interview Undo Arquitectos, a young collective I am happy to discover filmed by Itinerant Office. This agency was founded in 2002 by Anna Vergès Parisi and Guillen Augé. Undo Arquitectos collaborates with architects, designers, and artists in projects like BOPBAA and SCAPE arch. This year the agency co-organized Piso Piloto, an urban project initiated by Catedra Medellin-Barcelona (an initiative that connects Barcelona to Medellin, Colombia for a large number of urban projects. This programme was launched by the Kreanta Foundation in 2009).

Other video interviews include Snark Space Making, a Milano-based agency (Snark Space Making's website), StudioWOK (video), Estudio Pac-Man [PKMN] (video).
In The Architecture Post Tumblr, I will post these videos.

Video credit by Itinerant Office.


Weekreads: The Editor Reads: 001

The Editor Reads is back but with a new title (still experimenting sections): The Week Reads. In few words, still the same content: what I read the last one/two weeks. but not only, what I did, met, saw, visited, etc., all in this section.
I stopped this section due to a lack of time that made me consider the idea of moving to new futures. But as I am working alone, with no team, (but considering in the nearing future to build a team for The Architecture Post to respond to my thirst for new projects), it became difficult to continue some sections. Not to mention that I have two tumblr too: ULGC and The Architecture Post Behind The Scene which host The Architecture Post future articles (or…)… very busy but with a growing thirst to share… Let's start…

Some of you may have gone (or are planning to go) to the Istanbul Design Biennial. I won't. Unfortunately I'm forced to choose: I will go next month to the Venice Biennial. But this edition of Istanbul Design Biennial sounds nice. It is co-designed by Joseph Grima the editor of Domus, and Emre Arolat. I can't say more as I will not go there but will follow all the reviews that will fall in the very nearing future. I am thinking of call-to-podcast one of the curators Ethel Baraona (who will be the guest in a future podcast about her publishing work and the forthcoming books Concrete Mushrooms and Weaponized Architecture (see also: the blog) that she is co-publishing with Cesar Reyes Najera).
Before Istanbul Design Biennial opening, you may have seen (via twitter, facebook, Google +, or just because you're from Istanbul…) this little pamphlet named New City Reader. The fifth issue gathers contributors from art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist to Charles Jencks. Below, I post some glimpses below that you can read on Istanbul Design Biennial website.
Letters by — among many others — Charles Jencks,

What are the implications for new building in such areas? A Time City is a layered amalgam of different ages and, like a geological section through a mountain, reveals its levels as different materials, colours and chemistries. In effect, these levels show a naturalistic picture of history, an indexical sign of time, and a palimpsest of cultures. To build in the Time City of Istanbul is to protect and dramatise this layering. Where construction is over new landscape or infill, it is to simulate the layering as an artificial construct. The Time City is constructed by the ages; the architect brings to consciousness evolution, destruction and the re-minting of coins — the palimpsest.
Istanbul is a city that assaults the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell — all are in play all the time on its streets. But Istanbul also soothes the senses: I sit quietly by the water, let my eyes drink in the blue water as well as a cup of Turkish tea and I dream!
Hans Ulrich Obrist,
Les racines sont profondes et ne meurent jamais (Edouard Glissant)
Istanbul is the answer… what is the question?
The future is… Istanbul
I just wanted to lend you a glimpse of Istanbul as it is today. Many things have changed during the centuries past, but in my opinion, the most significant change is the perpetual diminishing of the number of people who speak up, ask questions and express their concerns. In this age of timidity, apathy and obeisance prevailing over a majority of the public masses, we chose to become mere followers who do not question but only conform. We closed our eyes so that we'd be safe from harm. We just did what we were asked to do, or we did whatever we felt like doing…
Mimi Zeiger,

What is the contemporary sound of Istanbul?
Moving to another topic, Matthew Wright announces on Climate Spectator that zero carbon housing is arriving in Australia,

Cape Ecovillage houses will define our all electric future, with all electric appliances that will one day be powered from a 100 per cent renewable powered electricity grid. For now they'll run on combination of rooftop solar photovoltaic and certified Greenpower from the grid.
I am curious of seeing whether or not these eco-housing will be as ecological as announced. But trials and errors help shape new perspectives to building…

Today you may have followed this live discussion on Housing and Migration. Indeed, the Housing section of The Guardian launched an interesting live discussion on migrants' access to housing. It seems to me that this live discussion — I hope it will lead to something concrete — unveils new questions about migrants and housing. Not limited to the UK, needless to say that migrants are confronted with the very least desirable housing offer. These housing are overcrowded, insecure, in poor conditions, worse, dangerous. This issue logically leads to an array of issues like tension between communities, obstacles for integration… 
I post below a user's comment that reflected the tone of this discussion:

My work involves engaging with migrant community organisations and supporting them in engaging with policy issues and campaigning, mostly in London. We recently organised a meeting on with migrant organisations and housing associations and we have been following recent policy developments such as the guidance on dealing with rogue landlords issued by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
There are some good examples of housing associations with interesting initiatives to engage with migrants (a illustrated in the Housing and Migration guide) and these can be the starting point to get more Housing Associations but also more migrant community organisations to consider how they may engage more actively. From our perspective a key thing is for migrant communities and organisations for whom this is a new subject to learn from those who have had successful projects. (…)
Reading these comments, I tweeted today this: It would be productive to launch similar live discussion about Roma and housing (following these recent Roma camps destruction here and there), but… at many levels — political, planning,  architectural, social and economic. I was thinking of the latest edition of the Venice Biennial who addresses 'Common Ground' and but more in the perspective of the next year Lisbon Biennial who will cope with 'what is architecture in the time of crisis' among others. What housing for nomad communities? Questions raise but this can be an interesting topic to discuss on a biennial scale. Why not…

The new issue of Volume Magazine is out. This 33rd issue deals with Interiors. Arjen Ooterman's editorial gives an overview of this issue,

In the early 1970s, the Dutch Goed Wonen merged with an architecture magazine and shifted its attention to the social dimensions of the city. This was not by coincidence as it was the period in which inerior space became contested, as expressed by squatting. This movement revolutionized not only received ideas of property and (spatial) rights, it also revolutionized the very notion of living. It didn't take a Rietveld chair, Pastoe cuboard, or a Bruynzeel kitchen — not even a three-room apartment — to live a decent urban life. The aesthetics of the house and its spatial arrangement were as subject to revolt as ownership, fashion, and looks. (…)
In my wish-list (and, this is not surprising, a book with huge need to review), Rory Hyde's new book Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture. It is not available in Paris yet. Conversations include: Bruce Mau, Indy Johar, Reinier de Graaf & Laura Baird (AMO), Mel Dodd (muf_aus), Wouter Vanstiphout (Crimson), Matt Webb (Berg Design Architecture), Bryan Boyer (Helsinki Design Lab), Todd Reisz, Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang), Liam Young (Unknown Fields), and the list goes on,

Rohy Hyde: Do you see your work in Hoogvliet, where you have retained many of the existing so-called 'failed' buildings, added some new small-scale buildings, all determined by an intimate process of local community engagement etc., as humble?
Wouter Vanstiphout (Crimson): I would not say that was humble, and having done that project I don't think that you can be humble. I think that our project is deeply arrogant — I hope to a good way — is the sense that if you are humble, and if you take humidity to the extreme, it would mean that you would accept everything instead of challenging it. So to Hoogvliet, we could accept that the social segregation was happening and that there was not much you could about it. When actually we were like schoolteachers, practically slapping them and ferrying them about. We organized an exhibition and we actually went around with buses and knocked on doors to bring them there. Because we knew that in a society in Hoogvliet that people would never go. So we really, literally rounded them up, we forced ourselves on these people. Now I'm from Belgian ancestry, and I nearly felt like one of those Catholic missionaries in Congo, forcing my beliefs on the poor natives! So there is no humility…
Some questions may arise from this book concerning new practitioners that emerge in this difficult time. Hence its importance in my wish-list.

Speaking of new practitioners: The Architecture Post visited Parisian DATA Architects for a studio visit and a video interview
DATA Architects ı Working area
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post
180 Housing Units for Students and Researchers, ZAC de la Gare de Rungis, Paris
Image courtesy DATA Architects

One of my favorite mapmaking agencies Stamen Design who was the topic of a recent Icon magazine's issue, announced this 10 October New Design for Yandex Map, precisely a redesign of the online maps for Russia's most popular search engine:

We have done the important stage of the project. We talked to designers, engineers and other smart guys during all time of the project. We achieved a lot of experience of mapping design.
For example, at the beginning of the project we collaborated with Stamen. These cool guys helped us pick main issue definitions, refine ideas, get important recommendations what to improve. We implemented it into final design.
Moscow | © Stamen Design
"Zooming in further, we paid attention to the routes that the subway lines take under Moscow.
Not having been there before, we needed to rely on our friends at Yandex
for confirmation as to whether this looked right given insider knowledge of Moscow, but it turned out nicely…" [Stamen Design]

A guest-editing project announced for September (if you remember) and then for October postponed for… December. The reason? I am looking forward to picking Bracket's new issue [Goes Soft]. Without this new issue, not guest-editing… Amazon announced it for this November. So I am becoming happily (im)patient. Bracket [Goes Soft] will be edited by Actar.

To conclude, For Whom do We Design, and Why? asks the new edition of the Lisbon Biennial team. You can answer in the website… Only 100 words…
And you can participate in this edition. The Lisbon Biennial invite students to create an intervention at the Triennale headquarters. If you click on 'More Info' you can download the guidelines…

The Editor's Pick | Interactive Map of the Day | France ı Where unemployment rate has increased

It is very rare (if not, never discussed, or/and even mentioned, here): this post will be related to jobs. But don't worry: not directly (Neither am I armed to address this issue nor I have this desire to launch any discussion on this yet very crucially concern that I will not control), this is more the map on its own — an interactive map — that is on focus here.

But first allow me for briefly mapping the French situation before going back to the map. It has been largely said that (unless you are not Europeans or, who knows, have no interest in France) France is facing grave economic issues. Issues that can be summed up into two points: Lack of competitivité (competitiveness) and a chronic inability to bring down public spending.
Today, Le Monde, a French newspaper, revealed an interesting interactive map that measures unemployment rate which has passed over 10%, as The Economist pointed out.

Detail: Unemployment rate in the Hexagonal France and Corsica over the past decade (2003 to 2012)
Originally appeared on Le Monde
As mentioned above, Le Monde posted a map that charts where unemployment has grown in the Hexagon (l'hexagone) and Corsica ( overseas departments and territories of France — known as Dom Tom in French — not included) identifying variation in unemployment across the Hexagon over the past decade (2003 to 2012). Based on INSEE (French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies), this map tracks data per cities and towns. These data per area then are compared with national unemployment rate.
Evolution of jobless rate in France, in 2003
Originally appeared on Le Monde

A very simple but dynamic interactive map that measures unemployment rate from 2003 to 2012 to have a fresh look on unemployment in France. The green colors indicate average percentage unemployment rate from 6% to 9%, orange colors from 9% to 11%, and the red colors more than 12%.
The user must slide a little bracket in blue into the right or the left (depending on the year's data the user is looking for) to measure the evolution of the unemployment rate. And colors change instantaneously.

Quarterly jobless rate in France in 2007
Originally appeared on Le Monde
In doing so, the bracket, then, modifies data for both the map and the line chart.
 In this link, you will access to the interactive map where you will manipulate date per year. This map functions as follows: quarterly jobless rate and evolution of jobless rate between two terms. Note however that Data and legends are in French (French speakers: you will have a full access to this map. Non-French speakers: don't worry the map is easy enough to be understood…).
Quarterly Jobless Rate in France, in 2012
Originally appeared on Le Monde

All of this leads to a final statement as some comments — ironically — say in this newspaper (in French again): the areas where the jobless rate is low are not yet concerned with companies that close their doors…

Source: Le Monde.


ULGC / The Architecture Post | Video ı Studio Visit 01: DATA Architects, Paris, France

I am inaugurating a new project, Studio Visit series, with DATA Architects.
DATA Architects
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post
180 Housing Units For Students and Researchers, ZAC de la Gare de Rungis, Paris
Image courtesy DATA Architects

DATA Architects is a young Paris-based agency that envisions to change the contemporary architecture scene.
Housing for Students and Researchers, Paris, 2012
Image courtesy DATA Architects
The agency was founded in 2010 by two young architects Leonard Lassagne and Colin Reynier. I was greeted in a young and busy firm composed of about ten architects and interns. They are young and ambitious.
DATA Architects in Paris, France
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post

The space is divided in three sections. The working space is a long and minimalist open space rectangular in form, dominated by computer stations. The layout of this space — computer stations placed in rows — facilitates continuous communication between the staff. Natural daylight is maximized through a large window and the white furniture, walls and columns.
Work stations
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post
DATA Architects in Paris, France
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post
working space
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post 

Working space
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post

Colin Reynier tells me that this area is shared by two agencies: theirs and another young agency R-Architecture. Space sharing offers benefits to young architects such as sharing experiences, and, why not, collaboration.
Working space
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post
Andrezieux ı Plan and rendered view © DATA Architects
Image © ULGC / The Architecture Post
The working space leads to a small but flexible space on the left. This space serves as a break out space and other functions.
Model | © DATA Architects
image © ULGC / The Architecture Post

I filmed the two founders in an area separated from the working space by a passage that leads to the building's other entrance door. This area functions as a meeting place and an archive room, with study and final building models lined along a large window, model storage, a large rectangular table in the middle and along the walls large images on panels of some of their projects.
La Seyne Sur Mer ı Nouveau Casino
Image courtesy DATA Architects

We take a look at the young practice's three recent projects: housing units, and two large private buildings. Just completed: 180 Housing units for students and researchers located in the ZAC (Urban Development Zone) de la gare de Rungis, Paris. A metallic building, triangular in form, with a central atrium.
Montrond | Nouveau Casino
Image courtesy DATA Architects

The two other projects are in progress. Two casinos. The first casino is announced to be completed in few months. Located in La Seyne-sur-Mer, France, the building will sit on a parcel of land that faces the Mediterranean Sea. The second casino,  located in Giffaumont Champaubert, France, will be completed by 2014.
Montrond | Nouveau Casino
Image courtesy DATA Architects

The agency works in France. The ambition nevertheless is to develop projects internationally.
Montrond | Nouveau Casino
Image courtesy DATA Architects

Lassagne and Reynier love sport; they thus dream of building stadium in the nearing future. They add to have taken part in competitions to designing stadium, but they always finished second. Maybe a day…
Image © DATA Architects

In a time of crisis, developing projects for a young practice requires time, energy and a high dose of work. But the agency team is optimist and works hard, weekend included.
Rendered view of Andezieux
Image © DATA Architecture

While discussing with the founders, the staff, very busy, goes on working… certainly on new competitions.
Model of 180 Housing Units, ZAC de la Gare de Rungis, Paris
Image © DATA Architects
Rendered view of 180 Housing Units
image © DATA Architects
Rendered night view of 180 Housing Units
Image © DATA Architects
180 Housing Units
Image courtesy DATA Architects
Rendered night view of La Seyne Sur Mer ı Nouveau Casino
Image © DATA Architects
Model of Montrond ı Nouveau Casino
Image © DATA Architects
Rendered view of Montrond ı Nouveau Casino
Image © DATA Architects

Credit: ULGC / The Architecture Post

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