Cataloging: Construction of trading and leisure infrastructures and scale mediation.
Example: Savage Capitalism at the Civic Center of Bucharest.
Author: Commercial companies on the urban plan designed by Nicolau Ceaucescu.
Address: Calea Victoriei. Bucharest, Romania.
Description: Ceaucescu’s urban plan destroyed the center of Bucharest, known as the “ Eastern Paris”. Decades later, the uncontrolled capitalism has returned the place into the human scale: the ads cover with colors, figures and messages the monumental socialist buildings flanking the streets.
It’s impressive “to have a walk” using Goggle Earth over the city of Bucharest. It’s actually quite worrying to discover Ceaucescu’s concrete-curtain buildings, extended indifferently over the city, trying to construct a fake scenery that conceals the reality of its people without freedom. It is possible to imagine the atrocities that this dictator was capable of realizing, just by observing the photomap of the city.
Landscape Designers: EMF landscape architects: Martí Franch.
Architectural Design: J/T ARDÈVOLS S.L.
Collaborators EMF: M. Batalla, M. Bianchi, A. Lopez, G. Batllori, L. Majer, C. Gomes, M. Solé, L. Ochoa, J. L. Campoy.
Collaborators Ardèvols: Raul Lopez, Cristina Carmona.
Photographer: Martí Franch, Pau Ardèvol, Esteve Bosch.
In 1960, Club Med was built on the eastern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, in one of the windiest and most northern exposed corners of the nation. It was built as a private holiday village with 400 rooms to accommodate around 900 visitors in summer.
Published in Total Latin American Architecture.
Design team: Al Borde, David Barragán, Pascual Gangotena.
Collaborators: Estefanía Jácome, José Antonio Vivanco.
Technical advisor: Bolívar Romero, Rammed Earth Specialist.
Construction: Miguel Ramos.
Location: Tumbaco, Quito, Ecuador.
Site Area: 50,000 s.q.
Built Area: 1,800 s.q.
The wish to set up, the search for living in harmony with nature, the need of autonomy for each one of the three members of the family, the low budget (understood as the optimization of resources and spaces) and the phrase: “There is always another way of doing things and another way for living”, settled by the family, were the starting point for the design.
An initiative based on hydric conciliation between the changing water levels of Lake Michigan, the groundwater supply, and the ecological activation of the site. Building a soft edge for the water will also restore the contextual relationships, providing program flexibility.
This article gathers information and stories of the publication, Donald Judd. Open Enclosed a forthcoming book by Actar Publishers. The Spanish version is titled Donald Judd en el paisaje. Elestadomental.com publishes the Spanish version of this article.
It was very difficult to go to the house of that woman and to take away with us the paintings of her son, which were hung on the walls of the living room and the other rooms. On taking down the paintings the marks remained on the walls. Those paintings had been there forever. The woman, very old, was very upset, scolded us, we were taking away part of her life, her memories. Those paintings meant a lot to her, they were her son’s paintings, but it was he himself who, in a threatening tone, had sent us to get them: “Bring them all back! Don’t leave any of them behind!”. We put all the paintings in a van and started our long journey back to Marfa.
By taking into consideration the space for the residents, the functions for living, and the relationship with the surrounding environment, creation of a diversity and richness in the house was intended by controlling the concept of light.
“Living City” as a platform for buildings to talk to one another. In this case, each building could share its existing sensor data with other buildings and create a kind of social network for buildings.
The following essay is a revised version of a chapter of the same name from my book The Air from Other Planets: A Brief History of Architecture to Come (Zurich: Lars Müller Publishers, 2013).
Published in "Projective Ecologies", 2014
Creating the boundaries that define and separate activities is an essential act in architectural design. A boundary distinguishes a change that allows two separate activities to exist adjacent to each other. The material characteristics that create these boundaries inform the shapes that architecture can take, influencing spatial organizations, conglomerations and subdivisions, and typologies, while simultaneously providing a measure of value, whether aesthetic or monetary.
Architectural theorists and sustainable designers have often situated themselves at opposite poles in regard to the architectural project. In one camp, architecture is the representation of an autonomous manifestation emerging from formal inquiry. At the other, architecture is the constructed composite of performative systems derived through functional determinism. The two camps rarely intersect, even insofar as the number of rhetorical exercises aimed at finding common ground—i.e ‘theorizing’ green design—have burgeoned. The chasm between the two may have yielded the inherent competition that exaggerates their incompatibility, but it is what they have in common that shapes the more fundamental conflict between architecture and the thermal environment.
Published in "The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles", 2008
The patch of asphalt at the east end of Wilshire Boulevard, where it dead-ends into Grand Street, is covered in what appears, at first glance, to be random graffiti. A closer look, however, reveals it to be a secret code.
Project team: David Lorente, Josep Ricart, Xavier Ros, Roger Tudó.
Collaborators: Montse Fornés (H Arquitectes), Anna Bonet (H Arquitectes), Iñaki González de Mendiguchia.
Photographs: Adrià Goula.
The house was for a young couple without children, and it had some pretty conventional initial programmatic requirements. The triangular plot was part of an Incasol protected land development intended for self-developers and was subject to a tight schedule in terms of the development of the house.
Trans-structure is based on effective energy distribution and exchange, and this way it is capable to assure the same quality of thermal comfort with less operational and embodied energy simultaneously.
Architecture: MOS Architects.
Design Team: Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample, Ashley Bigham, Jason Bond, Ryan Culligan, Gideon Danilowitz, Michael Faciejew, Steven Gertner, Jason Kim, Kera Lagios, Ryan Ludwig, Gabrielle Marcoux, Meredith McDaniel, Elijah Porter, Michael Smith, Mathew Staudt, Marrikka Trotter.
Location: Star Axis, New Mexico.
Photography: Florian Holzherr.
The Element House is a guesthouse and visitor center for Star Axis, a land-art project located in the foothills 120 miles east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The building acts as a gallery and guesthouse for visitors and as a prototype for off-the-grid housing.
The Post-Gravitational Archaic, the model here under development and inquiry, is grounded on the relation between a varyingly hard analysis of thermodynamic performances and effects, and a varyingly loose control of a formation process through systematic means, ending in an alternatively aggregative or sudden building form, irreducible yet consistent with its manifold technical determination.
The natural cooling devices are trees with specific qualities for cooling the atmosphere because they have a lots of leaves or big leaves that create heavy shadows, or white flowers and waxy white leaves in order to reflect the warm sun rays, or trees that produce a strong evaporation with consequence to cool the air around because of the physical change of phase from liquid to gas.
Published in "Far from Equilibrium: Essays on Technology and Design Culture", 2008
First published in "Assemblage 25", 1995
The sinews of modernity may be discerned in three succinct and interwoven social processes of nearly identical origin: the processes of rationalization, of industrialization, and of the more concrete process into which the latter two are subsumed, that of urbanization.
Petropolis of Tomorrow: Floating Frontiers.
Designers: Bomin Park, Peter Stone.
Advisor: Neeraj Bhatia.
Original conception produced at The Rice School of Architecture.
How do we think of and design for an urbanism that is organized through time? How does logistics act as a vehicle for new forms of civic engagement? How can the sharing of resources be the core of new cities? The following case study uses the offshore oil extraction settlements as a basis for rethinking the city.
Our societies are the most complex dynamic and informational systems that exist: they are space-time (as well as sensorial) systems constantly exchanging information among the elements that comprise them, and between the latter and the environment, mutating and fluctuating in an evolutionary manner.
Published in Total Latin American Architecture.
Design team: Camilo Restrepo, Miguel Mesa, Luís Callejas (Paisajes Emergentes).
Collaborators: Federico Mesa, Santiago Cadavid & Farid Maya (architects) & Juan David Díez (graphic designer).
Temporary exhibition: 2008-2009.
Location: Main Square of Medellín, Colombia.
Construction and installation: Juan Camilo Muñoz, Marco S.A. Laszlo Yurko, Ecoluz (Illumination), Andrés Ospina (Landscape consulting).
Built area: 4.305 SF.
Commissioned design Medellín Mayor’s Office exhibition for the 50th BID assembly.
Principal Designers: Lab.Pro.Fab.: Alejandro Haiek Coll, Eleanna Cadalso Vera.
Design team: David Arana, María Alejandra Bausson, Ana María Brito, Daniela Bonilla, Cesar Castillo, Laura Sabal, Michelle Sánchez De León, Marcos Mancini, Patricia Rey, Stefano Di Cristofaro.
Location: El Campito, Sector Maca, Caracas, Venezuela.
Date: 2010 - 2015 on going project.
Area: 200 sq.
Photographer: Eduardo Sauce, Eleanna Cadalso.
Promoters: Public Space Sucre Municipality plan.
Collective Landscapes. Urban playgrounds and scenarios promoting cultural landscapes with the approval of the community.
Published in "Critical Prison Design: Mas d'Enric Penitentiary by AiB arquitectes + Estudi PSP Arquitectura", 2014.
Lead Architects: Roger Paez i Blanch (AiB arquitectes SL), Joan Maria Pascual i Cañellas (Estudi PSP Arquitectura).
Collaborating Architects: A i B: Iñigo Solano, David Baró, Nicolás Aparicio, Marta Mulà, Luís Arredondo, Jordi Brunés, Gerard Cuartero-Betriu, Eduard Dalmau, Gerard Garcia, Estíbaliz Guitérrez, Jordi Pascual, Arne Schultz-Gambard, Enric Verdú, Sandra Vergara, Cristian Vivas. PSP: Ferran de los Santos, Josep Pérez, Ramon Torrents, Jordi Morató, Enric Palou, Rafel Montsonís, Fernando Morales, Coral Pallarés, Gemma Mercader.
Location: Paratge Mas d’Enric, 43764 El Catllar, Spain.
Design period: December 2005-June 2008.
Construction period: December 2009-April 2012.
The main aim of Mas d’Enric Penitentiary is to bring the prison back into architectural debate, in a broad and critical sense, while steering clear of dominant technocratic conceptions. As has been the case with hospitals or schools, the prison is a reality that needs to be visualized and addressed so that it can be included in the broadest possible architectural and social debate, allowing for it to evolve in keeping with society’s demands.
Architect: FAR Frohn & Rojas.
Design team: Marc Frohn, Mario Rojas Toledo, Amy Thoner, Pablo Guzman, Isabel Zapata.
Location: Santiago de Chile, Chile.
Design period: 2004 - 2007.
Total floor area: 230 m2. Cost: 100.000 €.
Photographs: Cristobal Palma.
As opposed to the general notion that our living environments can be properly described and designed “in plan”, this project is a design investigation into how the qualitative aspects of the wall, as a complex membrane, structure our social interactions and climatic relationships and allow for the development of specific ecologies.
How will the new digital technologies of design and manufacturing impact the future of the urban scale?
Interview by Areti Markopoulou at Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia - IaaC -, Barcelona, October 2015
We need to reorient architecture towards sectors of precariousness that are habitually left out of the scope of our practice. An important segment of the current architectural avant-garde has aligned itself with homogenization, privatization, and economic neoliberalism. As architects we are simply dressing-up these conditions, we have stopped challenging them.
With no more than twenty years of existence, on the edge of the city and the country; located on the northern edge of the metropolitan area of Mexico City —a periphery of more than ten million inhabitants—, the Golondrinas colony is a short perimeter of five by five blocks that summarizes in its composition and brief history all the features and conditions of urban informality and precariousness.
Can one then consider the affordable status of these apartments as disposable? Is it the purpose to build affordable houses that will disappear after ten years and therefore become “unaffordable?” Or, is it an optimistic suggestion to think that the widespread need for affordable housing is only temporary?
Published in "Scarcity in Excess: The Built Environment and the Economic Crisis in Iceland", 2014
In conclusion, instead of starting new projects which will demand an incredible amount of resources, recycling or retrofitting the neighborhoods on the outskirts seems like a reasonable way forward, and would be an important step for the whole town.
Throughout history, cities have often been compared with living organisms. The analogy between the city and the human body has been explored in depth by figures as varied as Plato, Vitruvius or Leonardo DaVinci. Urban tissue, a city’s heart, arteries and lungs are some of the terms that comprise the extensive urban planning vocabulary that has been created by comparing fragments of the city with organs or elements of the human anatomy. While the human body has served as a recurring metaphor to describe the complex functioning of cities, sickness has often been the allegory used to illustrate urban dysfunction. Above and beyond anthropomorphic conceptions of the city, statements like “Paris is sick”, proclaimed by Le Corbusier in 1929, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s comparison, from 1958, between the cross-section of any city plan and the section of a fibrous tumor,  highlight the city’s metaphorical capacity to fall ill. “Sickness”, in this context, is not understood as intrinsic to the natural functioning of any organism, but rather as an evil that must be combated.
Text by Jesús Hernández. Published in "Public Space Acupuncture", 2015.
Principal Designers: Grávalos & Di Monte Architects: Ignacio Grávalos, Patrizia Di Monte.
Promoters: Zaragoza Vivienda (Municipal Housing Society of Zaragoza).
Photographer: Grávalos & Di Monte Architects.
Location: Different locations in Zaragoza, Spain.
Date of Completion: 2012.
Long-term strategies based on temporary interventions sample in Saragossa by Ignacio Grávalos and Patrizia di Monte, Estonoesunsolar and Zaragoza Vivienda, Spain.
While designing this house, I remembered the Rwanda forest I visited a few years ago. It is a vast forest around the Virunga Volcanoes, on the border of three countries – Rwanda, Congo and Uganda – where wild mountain gorillas live and roam. When we caught up with a troop of gorillas following the guidance of local people, they were sitting and resting among soft bushes in an open space of the forest. Infant gorillas played in the trees and ran around among the adults, as each adult settled comfortably to groom themselves or to eat grass and tree bark. It was like a scene in a house. They found their places among dense trees and improvised their houses. Although there were no walls or roofs, trees, tall grass and creepers entwined with them; the overlaps and outlines created by unevenness in the terrain enclosed the presence of inhabitant, to form a comfortable density that could be called a house. This is the vernacular architecture in the gorilla forest.
The story of the Francisco Hernando neighborhood in Seseña, a town 35km south of Madrid, as well as many other urban developments in Spain at the beginning of the 21st century is well known. The liberalization of land use allowing urban development in almost any corner of the Spanish territory, tax cuttings that forced municipalities to finance themselves through building permits, together with low bank interest rates generated what has been considered to be the biggest real estate bubble in Europe.
The defunct Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia achieved a certain degree of material well-being, which was reflected in a strong program for social housing or the construction of great public buildings to accommodate the people. Architecture played an important cultural role and Yugoslavian architects, understanding the political climate of their time, rejected Socialist Realism in favor of an International Style with its own characteristics.
Cataloging: Environmental modifications and construction of Infrastructures of Trade and Leisure.
Example: Spontaneous alteration of the urban normality. Street in NY during the summer.
Date: Until today.
Author: New Yorkers.
Description: Some children from a big dense American city like NY use the accidental water escape of a firemen hose to convert the streets into a place for games. It is an example of how a hazardous situation of minimal resources can transform the city.
The monumental fountains are objects to be thoughtfully observed. They are urban elements that furnish the public space and that in many occasions symbolize the moments in which the city has suffered subsequent transformations or important events. Water spouts, sometimes of great height, turn into urban modals that splash and scare away the pedestrians who look at them from far away, avoiding getting wet.
Published in "Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions", 2013.
Installation at the Nevada Museum of Art by Geoff Manaugh.
Funding for Museums of the City provided by the Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art, and the Chalsty Fund & Faculty Development Fund, California College of the Arts.
Architectural historian David Gissen offers four provocative images of the city transformed into a museum of itself: often-overlooked landscapes from the city’s own past literally reframed in complicated ways. If the internal space of the museum can be seen as a device for turning everyday objects into historical artifacts and works of art, what happens when museological devices leak out into the city at large?
Jellicoe Harbor is used for a diverse array of purposes, including container shipping, ferry services and commercial fishing. Previously, these activities were conducted out of the public eye. Now, however, they are central to the public realm experience and integrated as attractions.
Kangbashi is probably not the rebirth of the phoenix as the city defines itself in the propaganda brochures that dwell in its hotel rooms, but it’s not either the ghost city by which al-Jazeera and other foreign media try to undermine the credibility of the new global super-power China has become.
Published in "Requiem for the City at the End of the Millenium", 2010.
Ryugyong Hotel (105-floor shell reactivated 16 years after going into dormancy), Pyongyang, North Korea, Unknown 2001
The present appears to be a golden moment for architecture. Public attention to, and general lust for, design is at an all-time high; everyone is doing brilliant and fresh work; architects are increasingly respected and sought out for their ideas on social developments, history, and the city; and it seems that we have all overcome our objections to capitalism. Despite some of these ironies, such developments are in themselves no bad thing.