3 days 18 hours ago
Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice
Catherine Croft, Susan Macdonald (Editors)
Getty Publications, January 2019

Paperback | 8-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches | 208 pages | 183 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1606065761 | $59.95

Publisher Description:
This timely volume brings together fourteen case studies that address the challenges of conserving the twentieth century’s most ubiquitous building material—concrete. Following a meeting of international heritage conservation professionals in 2013, the need for recent, thorough, and well-vetted case studies on conserving twentieth century heritage became clear. This book answers that need and kicks off a new series, Conserving Modern Heritage, aimed at sharing best practices.

The projects selected represent a range of building typologies, uses, and sizes, from the high-rise housing blocks of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation and public buildings such as London’s National Theatre to small monuments like the structures at Dudley Zoological Gardens and a sculpture by Donald Judd. The projects also represent a range of environmental and economic contexts. Some projects benefit from high levels of heritage protection and access to funding, while others have had to negotiate conservation with stringent cost limitations. All follow a rigorous conservation approach, beginning with a process of investigation and diagnosis to identify causes and target repairs, balanced with conservation requirements to preserve significance.
dDAB Commentary:
Last month a modern masterpiece in concrete entered the news, when Berthold Lubetkin's daughter said that "perhaps it's time to blow [the Penguin Pool at London Zoo] to smithereens." The 1934 structure by Lubetkin, with structural engineering by Ove Arup, has intertwining, paper-thin ramps that exploited the potential of reinforced concrete at the time. Sasha Lubetkin's call for its demolition arose from the pool having sat empty since the penguins were moved to a larger habitat in 2004. It was the innovative concrete that caused the penguin exodus: the concrete surfaces led to an infection, "bumblefoot," on the feet of the birds. So concrete drew attention to the small structure and its inhabitants, and concrete led to its irrelevance. While most innovative applications of reinforced concrete from the modern era eventually required technical attention (the Penguin Pool was restored in the 1980s), the circumstances of the bumblefoot seem unforeseeable. But reactions to Sasha Lubetkin's words (one architect said tearing it down would be "vandalism") point to the beloved nature of modern architecture in concrete and the myriad technical issues that accompanied such buildings.

Although the Penguin Pool is not one of the 14 "case studies in conservation practice" in Concrete, the book does include the Dudley Zoological Gardens, also designed by Lubetkin and his firm, Tecton, with Ove Arup. A few of the other impressive and varied case studies in Concrete are the Listening Mirrors in Denge, the rotating Villa Girasole in Verona, Oscar Niemeyer's Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Belo Horizonte, Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation in Marseille, and even an outdoor Donald Judd sculpture in England. There is a diversity of function, geography, and form, equating to an equal diversity of conservation issues arising from the use of reinforced concrete. A common format for each case study presents background on the buildings and then allows Croft and Macdonald to delve into some highly technical information on research, analysis, and conservation efforts. Aiding them are lots of photographs that illustrate both the deterioration and the fixes. The conservation of innovative modern structures in reinforced concrete is very niche, but for practitioners dealing with such buildings Concrete is a must.Spreads:

Author Bios:
Catherine Croft is director of the Twentieth-Century Society and editor of C20 Magazine. Susan Macdonald is head of Buildings and Sites at the Getty Conservation Institute and oversees the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative.Purchase Links:
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Project Bunker Makes a Tiny Home out of a Diesel Oil Tank

1 week ago
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

People convert all kinds of unlikely objects into homes: sheds, shipping containers, school buses and even decommissioned wartime bunkers. These creative reclaimed homes can range from tiny to surprisingly spacious, but rarely are they quite as micro-sized (and round) as one particular project by Argentinean architect Martín Marro.

“Bunker” began as an exploration of Marro’s memories of his childhood home, which was converted from a 1940 service station. The architect sought to reconstruct not the physical space itself, but rather how he remembers it looking and feeling through the eyes of a child. As part of this venture, Marro found an old diesel tank with which to fulfill an unusual vision.

From outside, the bright yellow tank still looks just as it did when it was in use. But open the door and you’ll find an unexpected sight: an incredibly compact dwelling complete with a lounge chair, bed, television, lighting and storage space. Photographs of his own architectural projects are fixed to the rounded walls.

Mimicking a tank that stood outside his childhood home, the micro house essentially compacts Marro’s memory of the experience into a portable dwelling. “I transformed it into a bunker-cabin for then to seal it and perpetuate it, capturing time, thinking that the space I make present is an archeology of the future,” he says.

The “Bunker” cabin was initially put on display outside Marro’s actual childhood home before traveling to the #mac2018 contemporary art fair in the city of Córdoba-Argentina.

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[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

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Architectural League of New York Announce Winners of the 2019 Emerging Voices Program

1 week ago

The Architectural League of New York has announced the winners of it's 2019 Emerging Voices, an award given annually to eight individuals/practices based in the US, Canada, or Mexico. The Emerging Voices program, which is now in its 37th year, seeks to spotlight the distinctive design voices with the potential to influence the field of architecture. 

The Emerging Voices award program has long been considered one of the most prestigious in North American architecture; a large portion of the 250 awarded practices are now well-known internationally. 

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Representation Matters: 31 Black Women Architects Forging the Future of Architecture

1 week 1 day ago

By amplifying the discussion of black women, it is perceived that finding them in the academic and professional universes is still a not widely common situation, due to a deeply unequal historical process. In the recognition of the spaces conquered by the professional partners, going beyond the limits of [social and economic] inequality and racial discrimination becomes a path to tread, in an attempt to achieve, equally, the spaces that feminism in its universality has managed to occupy. The opportunities that didn’t reach us, generated a disparity in the absence of black professionals, in a course that, unfortunately, still known as elitist and segregator. 

What can be concluded is that it has visibly become a great advance for all of us, to know those that are towards the recognition of our voice in the spaces, academics and professionals [and who traditionally didn’t contemplate them]. As a memory of black consciousness, are represented here some of the 31 black architects that stand out among the various spheres in architecture and urbanism. 

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Stackable School Desks: Multifunctional Designs for Rural Mexican Schools

1 week 1 day ago
[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

Stacking chairs have long been a space-saving staple of offices, homes and schools, but getting a complex shape like a desk to stack up is a challenge — one these designers decided to take on for a very specific and practical application.

Studio Nos redesigned the traditional children’s school desk to make it affordable, durable, lightweight and able to be put away when not in use. The result of their efforts is a brightly colorful and interconnected chair-and-desk system with a number of nifty features.

The conical chairs stack for storage while a backrest allows students to hang their bags and backpacks. A slot underneath, meanwhile, provides a place to store books and other school supplies.

The top addition can be taken off, too, not just to store but also to make space and change up seating configurations. All in all, the seat-and-top set gets the job done and looks good while doing it, then comes apart as needed.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

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Universal Design: Creating Better Buildings & Cities for All

1 week 2 days ago
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Conventional design only welcomes a certain type of person: the one arbitrarily deemed “normal.” It’s easy for designers, or even the casual observer, to define the most typical user of a space as one who requires no modifications in order to access it. But “normal” doesn’t really exist, and you can’t necessarily tell by looking at someone whether they’re having a lot of trouble heaving open a heavy door, struggling to mount stairs, feeling confused by a complex access system or excluded from using it altogether. In that sense, the appearance of being “typical” is useless, just like the space you’ve created is to a large segment of people who might otherwise want or need to participate. That’s where Universal Design comes in.

The Disability Act of 2005 defines Universal Design as “the design and composition of an environment so that it may be accessed, understood and used to the greatest possible extent, in the most independent and natural manner possible, in the widest possible range of situations, without the need for adaptation, modification, assistive devices or specialized solutions, by any persons of any age or size or having any particular physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual ability or disability.” In electronic systems, it also means designing “any electronics-based process of creating products, services or systems so that they may be used by any person.”

In 1997, a group of architects, product engineers, engineers and environmental design researchers developed seven principles of Universal Design to help guide their professions in meeting these goals. To summarize:

  • The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

Universal Design doesn’t necessarily set out to create a “one size fits all” solution, but rather to push the boundaries of “mainstream” products, services and environments to include as many people as possible, and provide the ability for customization to minimize the difficulties of particular users. That may sound like a tall order, but the key is that no single designer can ever successfully pull it off alone.

How to Begin Making Spaces More Inclusive

To start, Universal Design means going beyond legal accessibility requirements to serve as many people as possible without segregating those with different needs. Putting it into action might mean altering a building that has stairs at the front entrance and an accessible entrance in the back to offer a single entrance for everyone to use. Most of the time, this can be done without affecting the overall integrity of the design. After all, most able-bodied people don’t mind walking up a ramp instead of using stairs. This approach to design works for “virtually” everyone, but there are also ways to accommodate the people who tend to fall through the cracks implied in this statement.

Whereas Universal Design relates to the final product, “inclusive design” relates to the process of designing, testing and refining it. It asks who can interact with a given environment in its current state, and who is left out – and then involves those people in the process of creating something better. The contributions of the people who need these variations the most are integral to a successful result.

Inclusive design is “a methodology that enables and draws on a full range of human diversity,” says designer Kat Holmes, author of a book on inclusive design called “Mismatch.” Ideally, the two approaches would work together to produce objects, experiences and spaces that are accessible to the greatest possible number of people. (By the way, many disability justice activists prefer use of the word “accessible” to describe the resulting spaces rather than “handicap.”)

Examples of Universal Design

Prodel Residence, France

So what does all this mean in the real world? Often, the changes required to accommodate and include more people are simple. Placing standard electrical receptacles higher on the walls, selecting wider doorways that can fit wheelchairs and people of all sizes, making entrances flat, installing louver door handles and creating storage spaces that are within reach of people of all heights are some examples offered by the Accessible Society. When more than one option is available for a design feature, choose the one that’s the most inclusive – or lead the charge in demanding a new one.

But Universal Design also means adapting both existing architecture and new building projects to recognize the vast array of abilities, limitations and differences that exist within our communities. To really embrace it, designers, architects and planners must challenge their assumptions of what the “normal” usage of a space will be, particularly since so many disabilities can be invisible to the casual observer. Here are some examples of what that can look like.

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[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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“Architecture Should be About What It Can Do, Not What it Can Look Like”: In Conversation with Michel Rojkind

1 week 3 days ago
Nestle Application Group / Rojkind Arquitectos . Image © Paul Rivera Nestle Application Group / Rojkind Arquitectos . Image © Paul Rivera

Born in 1969 in Mexico City, Michel Rojkind was educated in the 1990s at the Universidad Iberoamericana, while also performing as a drummer in Aleks Syntek’s popular rock band la Gente Normal. He opened his practice Rojkind Arquitectos in 2002. Among his most representative built works are Foro Boca for the Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra in Veracruz, a newly expanded film complex Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City, a pair of factory additions for the Nestlé Company in Queretaro, and the Nestlé Chocolate Museum in Toluca, all in Mexico. We spoke about how his architecture engages with people, why architects should assume roles that extend beyond architecture, and the importance of generosity and not worrying about designing everything 100%.

The following excerpt from my interview with Rojkind completes a series of conversations that I conducted in Mexico City while preparing my exhibition “Something Other than a Narrative” from the Architects’ Voices and Visions series at Facultad de Arquitectura Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM.

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43 Cities Hosting the 2019 Open House Festival

1 week 4 days ago
Dublin, Ireland. Image © Shutterstock Dublin, Ireland. Image © Shutterstock

Open House Worldwide has published their 2019 calendar, detailing the 43 cities set to take part in the international event. The festival, founded in 1992, is the world’s longest-established, largest, and fastest-growing network of urban architecture festivals for the public. Open House offers a simple yet powerful concept: to democratize urban architecture through free access to public and private buildings over a 48-hour period.

Newcomers to the 2019 family include Brno (Czech Republic), Tallinn (Estonia), Valencia (Spain), and Naples (Italy). By 2020, it is anticipated that 50 cities will take part in the event, which reaches nearly one million people globally each year. Previously, ArchDaily has attended and covered Open House events in London, Dublin, and Belfast, all of which are returning for the 2019 edition.

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9 Lessons For Post-Architecture-School Survival

1 week 5 days ago

We’ve already talked about this. You’re preparing your final project (or thesis project). You’ve gone over everything in your head a thousand times; the presentation to the panel, your project, your model, your memory, your words. You go ahead with it, but think you'll be lousy. Then you think just the opposite, you will be successful and it will all be worth it. Then everything repeats itself and you want to call it quits.  You don’t know when this roller coaster is going to end. 

Until the day arrives. You present your project. Explain your ideas. The committee asks you questions. You answer. You realize you know more than you thought you did and that none of the scenarios you imaged over the past year got even close to what really happened in the exam. The committee whisper amongst themselves. The presentation ends and they ask you to leave for a while. Outside you wait an eternity, the minutes crawling slowly. Come in, please. The commission recites a brief introduction and you can’t tell whether you were right or wrong. The commission gets to the point.

You passed! Congratulations, you are now their new colleague and they all congratulate you on your achievement. The joy washes over you despite the fatigue that you’ve dragging around with you. The adrenaline stops pumping. You spend weeks or months taking a much-deserved break. You begin to wonder: Now what?

The university, the institution that molded you into a professional (perhaps even more so than you would have liked), hands you the diploma and now you face the job market for the first time (that is if you haven’t worked before). Before leaving and defining your own markers for personal success (success is no longer measured with grades or academic evaluations), we share 9 lessons to face the world now that you're an architect.

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8 minutes 30 seconds ago
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