A House Is Not Just a House

1 day 19 hours ago
A House Is Not Just a House: Projects on Housing
Tatiana Bilbao
Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, October 2018



Paperback | 5 x 7-1/2 inches | 160 pages | # illustrations | Languages | ISBN: 978-1941332436 | $23.00

Publisher Description:
A House Is Not Just a House argues precisely this. The book traces Tatiana Bilbao’s diverse work on housing ranging from large-scale social projects to single-family luxury homes. Regardless of type, her work advances an argument on housing that is simultaneously expansive and minimal, inseparable from the broader environment outside of it and predicated on the fundamental requirements of living. The projects presented here offer a way of thinking about the limits of housing: where it begins and where it ends. Working within the complex and unstable history of social housing in Mexico, Bilbao argues for participating even when circumstances are less than ideal—and from this participation she is able to propose specific strategies for producing housing elsewhere.

The book includes a recent lecture by Bilbao at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, as well as reflections from fellow practitioners and scholars, including Amale Andraos, Gabriela Etchegaray, Hilary Sample, and Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco.
dDAB Commentary:
One of the highlights of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial was Tatiana Bilbao's "Sustainable Housing," one of four full-scale prototype dwellings I encountered in the exhibition. At only $9,000, the house made of CMUs, plywood, and wood pallets was framed relative to the 9 million houses needed in Mexico, where Bilbao lives and works. She was able to build 23 of the houses in Coahuila after the same number of houses was destroyed by a tornado. The wood was eschewed in favor of more concrete so they would stand up to any future tornadoes. Yet almost as important as the houses, Bilbao realized a shaded square and sports court adjacent to the houses; these illustrate how she also addresses urban planning and the public spaces outside of the houses themselves.

This small book documents a lecture Bilbao gave at Columbia GSAPP in October 2016, in which she discussed her housing prototypes, the houses in Coahuila, and other housing projects. Her talk illuminates the unique conditions of housing in Mexico and Mexico City in particular. Bilbao has been proactive in regards to the country's housing crisis, having approached INFONAVIT, the federally owned bank that funds most of the country's housing projects, with the goal of creating successful neighborhoods, not just good housing. This emphasis on context and the social conditions of housing is one explanation for the book's title. Other takes come courtesy of the essays by Ivnne Santoyo-Orozco, Gabriela Etchegaray, and Hilary Sample.Spreads:


Author Bio:
Tatiana Bilbao, born and raised in Mexico City, graduated from Universidad Iberoamericana in 1996. In 2004, she founded her titular office, initiating projects in China, Europe and Mexico.Purchase Links:
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Networking Platform Aims to Connect and Kickstart the Careers of Young Architects

2 days 23 hours ago
Utilizing technology, Ticco aims to respond to the demand for a 21st-century style of professional development.. Image © Ticco Utilizing technology, Ticco aims to respond to the demand for a 21st-century style of professional development.. Image © Ticco

A professional networking platform has been launched aimed at connecting early-career architects in the USA. Ticco admits architects with between 2 and 15 years of experience, with the goal of sharing smart design ideas for the future of the built environment. Developed by Katie Rispoli Keaotamai over a one-and-a-half-year timespan, the platform will now accept applications for its first 100 members until April, at a cost 31% lower than the fees paid for professional memberships.

Centered around dialogue, the platform offers access to ideas and opportunities that will positively shape the built environment, be it exchanging information, consulting on a project, or finding a new role in the profession.

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Art of the Chinese Courtyard: Respectful Renovations Keep Hutongs Alive

3 days 12 hours ago
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Building booms around the world can render entire neighborhoods unrecognizable in a matter of days, demolishing historic structures to make way for new developments. In cities like Beijing, where older architecture such as “siheyuan” courtyard houses stand out for their uniqueness and beauty, the transition from traditional to contemporary can feel all the more jarring. Urban development is all but inevitable to manage growing populations, but for many onlookers, it’s sad to see the past bulldozed in favor of new buildings that don’t even acknowledge the area’s cultural and architectural legacy.

Many of Beijing’s older buildings fell in a frenzy of demolition throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Traditional “hutongs,” or ancient city alleys lined with siheyuan residences, had fallen into disrepair and often lacked basic services and sanitation. City planners reportedly saw the historic, hutong-filled core of the city surrounding Tianenmen Square and the Forbidden City as prime real estate. In the ‘90s, about 600 hutong were destroyed every year, displacing roughly 500,000 residents. In place of those neighborhoods built during the Ming Dynasty came glittering skyscrapers and eight-lane highways.

Yandai_Byway

Only a few hundred complete courtyard houses remain, down from the 3,000 that stood during the 1980s. But among those that still exist, an interesting trend is taking root: modernization projects that preserve and honor the historic structures while making them suitable for 21st century lifestyles. The best examples of respectful Chinese courtyard house renovations repair and maintain the existing elements of the siheyuan, keep the courtyards open to the outdoors and add new complementary elements that augment the usefulness of the original buildings without diminishing their character.

Transforming Formerly Hidden Courtyards into Inclusive Spaces

Dwelling in Hutong by MINOR Lab

Designing homes around courtyards is an ancient tradition in China, with evidence of walled-in yards going as far back as the Shang Dynasty (approx. 1700 – 1100 BCE). The houses themselves opened out onto the alleyways outside, creating tranquil and private outdoor spaces protected from the eyes of strangers. This layout is similar to that of Beijing itself, which began as a walled city arranged like a checkerboard according to Confucian code. Each courtyard contained at least two trees along with water features and caged birds. Originally, each siheyuan was occupied by a single (often wealthy) family, but over time, they came to be inhabited by groups of families forming their own tiny villages. Many have since been converted into businesses.

Dwelling in Hutong by MINOR Lab
Dwelling in Hutong by MINOR Lab

The walls of a hutong “can be seen as a boundary between public and private venues,” acknowledges the firm MINOR Lab, which completed this renovation in the Dongcheng District in 2017 updating an old hutong with lots of transparent glass, translucent textured acrylic panels for privacy and warm wood. But their project, like many others, transforms these former residences into spaces that are meant for community use.

“Within the walls remains an inward and enclosed space, however, the yard resembles a vast container, letting in sky, wind, sunlight, air and sound. The crows of the two grand gingko trees are the flowing roof in the open air, overlapping layers of grey tiles. The exterior space under the trees connects to the interior one underneath the four roofs, floating and exchanging in a continuous way.”

Hutong Renovation by CAA
Hutong Renovation by CAA
Hutong Renovation by CAA

An interesting project by the firm CAA explores the continuation of multi-family and multi-generational hutong traditions in a way that can help support the owner’s aging parents, who have Alzheimer’s Disease. CAA kept the hutong’s original wooden structure and added an additional steel roof, creating larger windows and skylights in the existing structures to make them brighter. The layout of the courtyard and the surrounding houses gives each generation their own private living space, but they’re connected to each other, and the flat, accessible courtyard allows the client’s mother to get around in her wheelchair.

Tea House in Hutong by ARCHSTUDIO
Tea House in Hutong by ARCHSTUDIO
Tea House in Hutong by ARCHSTUDIO

“Tea House in Hutong” by ARCHSTUDIO is a striking example of the bolder approach. Forced to demolish parts that were too unsafe to keep, the architects added new wood and metal structures and created more enclosed spaces protected from the elements by adding a white-painted concrete roof. Openings to the outdoors are glassed in like atriums, and you can still get a sense of the original space as you gaze across the courtyard despite all of these alterations.

Twisting Courtyard by ARCHSTUDIO
Twisting Courtyard by ARCHSTUDIO
Twisting Courtyard by ARCHSTUDIO

The same firm took an old siheyuan in Beijing’s Dashilar Area and transformed it into a public space with a dramatic, river-like undulating surface of grey brick that flows in and out of the interior and exterior spaces. Curved walls hide auxiliary spaces like the kitchen, bathrooms, private guest rooms and storage areas while visually connecting communal spaces like the dining room and reception to the courtyard. It’s not subtle by any means and it doesn’t shy away from ultramodern touches, but somehow the combination of old and new still feels cohesive.

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"We Dream of Instant Cities that Could Sprout like Spring Flowers": The Radical Architecture Collectives of the 60s and 70s

4 days 1 hour ago

The first moon landing, widespread anti-war protests, Woodstock and the hippies, rural communes and environmentalism, the Berlin Wall, the women’s liberation movement and so much more—the tumultuous decades of the Sixties and Seventies occupy an unforgettable place in history. With injustices openly questioned and radical ideas that set out to unseat existing conventions and practices in various spheres of life, things weren’t any different in the architectural world. 

The grand visions dreamt up by the modernists were soon challenged by utopian experiments from the “anti-architecture” or “radical design” groups of the 1960–70s. Reestablishing architecture as an instrument of political, social, and cultural critique, they drafted bold manifestoes and designs, experimented with collage, music, performance art, furniture, graphic design, zines, installations, events, and exhibitions. While certain individuals from this era like Cedric Price, Hans Hollein, and Yona Friedman remain important to the realm of the radical and the unbuilt, the revolutionary spirit of these decades also saw the birth of various young collectives. For eccentricity at its very best, read on for a (by no means exhaustive) list of some groups who dared to question, poke, expand, rebel against, disrupt and redefine architecture in the 60s and 70s.

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Drawing Architecture

4 days 19 hours ago
Drawing Architecture
Helen Thomas
Phaidon, October 2018



Hardcover | 11-3/8 x 9-7/8 inches | 320 pages | 285 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0714877150 | $79.95

Publisher Description:
Throughout history, architects have relied on drawings both to develop their ideas and communicate their vision to the world.

This gorgeous collection brings together more than 250 of the finest architectural drawings of all time, revealing each architect's process and personality as never before. Creatively paired to stimulate the imagination, the illustrations span the centuries and range from sketches to renderings, simple to intricate, built projects to a utopian ideal, famous to rarely seen - a true celebration of the art of architecture.

Visually paired images draw connections and contrasts between architecture from different times, styles, and places. From Michelangelo to Frank Gehry, Louise Bourgeois to Tadao Ando, B.V. Doshi to Zaha Hadid, and Grafton to Luis Barragán, the book shows the incredible variety and beauty of architectural drawings.
dDAB Commentary:
One of Phaidon's tried and true formats is what I'd call the compilation book: one image with descriptive text per page, all geared to a particular theme. There's The Design Book, The Garden Book, Design for Children, and others related to architecture and design as well as books about art, cooking, and so forth. The success of these titles is certainly related to their subject. So for architects, Drawing Architecture is sure to please. Its nearly 300 pages of drawings range in time from 2130 BC to 2018. But instead of presenting the drawings in chronological order (a timeline at the back of the book, visible as the bottom spread, orders them as such) or in alphabetical order by their creators (as was done in The Garden Book, one of Phaidon's compilation books I'm most familiar with), author Helen Thomas opted for what she calls "an associational approach" meant to "provide imaginative space for the reader to make their own connections between the images." Yet with similarities in terms of color, form, perspective, and other visual means between the facing drawings on each spread, Thomas is already making those connections for the reader.

For me, the obvious appeal of the book isn't the connections; it's the individual drawings, some of them instantly recognizable (Boullée's Cenotaph for Isaac Newton, Le Corbusier's Maison Domino, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, Bernard Tschumi's Manhattan Transcripts, etc.) but many of them lesser known and therefore surprises to me. Thomas's descriptions are descriptive and analytical, finding significance in the drawings and how they were produced. In terms of the latter, I was disheartened to learn that Diller + Scofidio's iconic graphite-on-wood drawing of the unbuilt Slow House was a computer-generated print rather than a hand drawing (I should have realized that fact when I saw it in person years ago). I was also disappointed that Douglas Darden, Lauretta Vinciarelli, Michael Sorkin, and other talented architects were nowhere to be found, but any compilation is bound to have omissions. The drawings that did make the cut are on matte pages with uncut edges, making for a book lighter than expected given its size and very handsome; the latter is aided by the embossed cover with its drawing by R. Bucky Fuller. Unfortunately my cover warped quickly after unwrapping, something I wasn't expecting from a book with a cover price of more than $75.Spreads:


Author Bio:
Trained and registered as an architect, Helen Thomas spent 10 years as a senior lecturer in London schools of architecture, before moving to the new V&A/RIBA Architecture Collections at the V&A ... She is currently the Senior Research Fellow in Architecture and Construction, ETH Zurich.Purchase Links:
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Luxe for Less: How to Make Your Discount Furniture Finds Look More Expensive

5 days 12 hours ago

Let’s face it: Furniture can be expensive. To outfit your home with rooms full of quality pieces, you could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars. That’s why most people have a mix of high-end pieces and discount (or free) furniture that they collect over the years.

That doesn’t mean that your less-expensive furniture has to look cheap, though. With a little ingenuity, your hand-me-downs, yard sale finds, and discount store furniture can look like their more expensive cousins. So, whether you’re putting together some Swedish furniture with an Allen wrench or hiring a Houston furniture assembly service to tackle the task for you, try some of these tricks to get a luxe look for less.

1. Paint

The fastest, and one of the least expensive, ways to change the look of your furniture is with paint. A few coats of paint can completely change the look of any piece of furniture, and if you don’t like it, you can just paint over it. Some designer tricks for using paint include:

  • Spray painting metal furniture in metallic shades. Some gold spray paint can take a dingy, old looking metal coffee table from drab to fab in just a few minutes.
  • Chalk paint. Hand-painted furniture pieces made with chalk paint (a matte finish paint) often go for hundreds or thousands of dollars in furniture galleries and boutiques, but you can get the same look yourself. Try painting tables, chairs, desks or bookshelves with this technique to breathe new life into old pieces.
  • Accents. Painting the back shelves of a bookcase or built-in shelving unit adds a pop of color and distracts from a less-than-expensive piece.

Sometimes, just adding a fresh coat of paint can make an old or outdated piece look fresh, so don’t be afraid to experiment to get the look you want.

2. Hardware and Trim

Sometimes, what makes the difference between a cheap piece and a more expensive one is the details. A high-end bookshelf, for example, might have hand-carved trim on the shelves, or a dresser has more ornate hardware. You can fake the look of luxe, then, by adding or changing these elements on your cheaper pieces. Simply changing out the drawer pulls on a dresser or side table can change the entire look of the piece, for example. You can also make bigger changes, like putting new legs on a table, chairs or sofa (you can typically find an array of options at home improvement stores or online) or adding trim to plain pieces. Basic trim pieces that you can cut to size only cost a few dollars but can make it look like you spent hundreds of dollars more on your furniture.

3. Upgrade Upholstery

Outdated prints or cheap fabric can be a dead giveaway of low-end furniture, but re-upholstering pieces with better fabrics can make them look more expensive. You can probably handle basic jobs — such as recovering the seat cushions on dining room furniture — on your own with some fabric and a staple gun, but bigger jobs should be left to professionals. Depending on the fabric you choose and the size of the piece being re-upholstered, you can have a chair done for a few hundred dollars; couches and larger pieces cost more. Keep in mind that in some cases, it’s more cost-effective to just buy new furniture, especially if there are structural issues with the piece, but if you have a good quality hand-me-down or yard sale find that just needs sprucing up, an upholstery upgrade will do the trick.

4. Accessorize Thoughtfully

Even the most expensive piece of furniture can look cheap if it’s covered with clutter or poorly accessorized — but a less expensive piece can be disguised by well-styled accessories. A less expensive sofa, for instance, can be jazzed up with luxurious throws and a mix of throw pillows, while tables and shelves are ideal for vignettes, deliberately arranged groups of accessories. Vignettes work best when they are a mix of heights and textures and built around things that you really love. But even if you don’t have a collection of accessories, a simple stack of books topped with a candle or jar of shells or stones, paired with a plant or flower arrangement and a lamp, can help make the room feel pulled together and stylish, and distract from the less-expensive table underneath.

Regardless of the cost of your furniture, your home should always reflect your own personal style and be filled with things you love, which is always en-vogue.

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A Multi-Layered House Becomes a Landscape of its Own in Dense Osaka

5 days 13 hours ago
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

When cities are so dense and plots of land so small it seems like you don’t have room for a yard, maybe it’s time to reconsider what a yard can look like. Presented with the challenge of designing a sunny and spacious residence in a cramped Osaka neighborhood, Japanese firm Tomohiro Hata Architect and Associates went back in time for a solution, imagining what the area looked like before it was developed and aiming to reinvent it for this new purpose.

The architects looked to the nearby mountains and imagined the lush vegetation that once would have flowed down from them into the valleys, using this image as the genesis of their “micro-topography” concept. A series of stacked concrete slabs echoes the stratification of the Earth while providing airy open platforms that support a range of ordinary domestic functions and interplay with nature.

“The stacked ground layer overlaps as ‘sky topography’ when looking up, and changes the quality of the lower space,” says the firm. After consulting with structural specialists, they decided that a structure of three-dimensional branches mimicking those of trees could support the layers and add to the organic feel of the house. This stratified layout produces a series of covered and open spaces and allows for small gardens to be incorporated into all three levels of the home, as well as the roof.

Each layer is porous and permeable to the circulation of both air and the movement of its inhabitants, full of ramps, terraces and staircases that create meandering paths from the bottom to the top and back again. Indoor spaces are enclosed with glass, with private areas lined in warm wood paneling.

All of the layers interact with the external environment, including the cherry trees that line the block, and invite local wildlife like birds and bees into the structure. Ultimately, the design aims to allow people and the city “to become rich in the cycle of the earth repeated in fragments of everyday life.”

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Architecture Can!

5 days 19 hours ago
Architecture Can! HWKN Hollwich Kushner 2008-2018
Matthias Hollwich, Marc Kushner, HWKN
Images Publishing, October 2018



Flexicover | 5-1/4 x 9-1/2 inches | 216 pages | 290 color illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1864707915 | $30.00

Publisher Description:
Architecture Can! is an intriguing journey through the works and projects of the groundbreaking architecture firm Hollwich Kushner, based in New York. Partners Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner design projects at every scale: intimate, awe-inspiring, and everything in between; from residences to universities, museums, and urban plans.

As two founders of leading architecture social media network Architizer, Hollwich and Kushner frankly admit the power of social media in contemporary architecture practice. Images of new and advanced buildings and concepts travel the globe at high speed, influencing a new generation of projects before the previous generation has broken ground. To stand out, they believe, architecture must "empower people to engage with others, to produce memorable experiences, and to live with a sense of wonder."
dDAB Commentary:
What form should the architectural monograph take in the digital age? Architecture Can! is one answer. Documenting the first ten years of HWKN, aka Hollwich Kushner, the firm of Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner, Architecture Can! resembles a guidebook in size and shape. Its tall pages are more comfortable in the hands than on the coffee table. Following a short manifesto, with large text (akin to mobile-friendly websites) on yellow pages, the projects are presented like an endless scroll: images are cropped and extend to the next page and the next project. Some projects, such as their popular Wendy installation at MoMA PS1, are also given two-page spreads of full-bleed projects culled from Instagram and other social media sources. Following the colorful presentation of selected projects are all 125 projects HWKN projects to date, each presented simply with one b/w image.

Architecture Can! is best when the social media spreads add life, literally, to the projects Hollwich, Kushner, and team designed. Not all of the photos depict the buildings in a flattering or even substantial light (quite a few are selfies or photos about people in their setting rather than about the settings themselves), but they reiterate HWKN's assertion, spelled out below, that buildings are shared experiences. While I'm not convinced by Kushner's assertion that Instagram posts and the like are taking over the role of architectural criticism, but here they become a means of gauging how successfully a design imbues a place with vitality. HWKN's buildings, as Architecture Can! presents them, are lively places indeed.Spreads:


Author Bios:
Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner founded Hollwich Kushner, a leading architecture firm based in Lower Manhattan ... They are a new kind of architecture firm that believes in entrepreneurship - they founded Architizer.com and were named one the world's Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.Purchase Links:
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11 Online Courses for Architects and Students

6 days 4 hours ago
<a href="https://www.Vecteezy.com">Vecteezy!</a> <a href="https://www.Vecteezy.com">Vecteezy!</a>

Online courses have gained more and more recognition in the past couple of years. In addition to the flexibility and convenience of learning wherever and whenever you want, they provide access to content from well-respected professors and colleges. In the field of architecture and construction, online courses have grown exponentially. Last year, we compiled a list that focused mainly on constructive and material techniques. This time we selected 15 online courses covering a range of subjects. We hope this selection of courses can help you with your next project.

The Art of Structural Engineering: Vaults

Created by: Princeton University
Language: English 
Subject: "In this engineering course, you will learn how to analyze vaults (long-span roofs). The course also illustrates how engineering is a creative discipline and can become art and the influence of the economic and social context in vault design."

Parametric Design and Optimization

Created by: Stanford School of Engineering
Language: English
Subject: "This course explores the techniques and tools used in parametric modeling and computational design as a foundation for design optimization."

Architectural Construction Systems

Created by: Michael Neatu
Language: English
Subject: "Learn how to draw and design wooden, metal and concrete construction systems."

Introduction to Kinetic Facades

Created by: EDS Global
Language: English
Subject: "A beginner's guide to climate responsive facades and design processes."

Home Automation For Beginners: Create Your Own Smart Home

Created by: Gerard ODriscoll
Language: English
Subject: "Learn How to Build Your Own Smart Home Automation System from scratch without getting confused or wasting money."

Fundamentals of Structural Analysis

Created by: Dr. Seán Carroll
Language: English
Subject: "Get to grips with civil engineering structural analysis once and for all."

Introduction to Structural Steel Design

Created by: Adam Brittan
Language: English
Subject: "Learn the fundamental properties and design of Structural Steel."

Design of bridges: Concept, Modeling, Analysis, and Design

Created by: Ayman Kandeel
Language: English
Subject: "Learn the design concept of different types of bridges from one source."

Learn To Read Structural Drawings: From Zero To Hero

Created by: Gokul Saud
Language: English
Subject: "A full course On reading and comprehending Civil Engineering Structural Drawings."

The Art of Structures 1: Cables and Arches

Created by: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Language: French & English
Subject: "The course presents the principles of design and structures in cables and arches."

How a Building is Designed and Built (6 Part Series)

Created by: Matthew Morris
Language: English
Subject: "The lessons in the course have been developed to boil down years of on-the-job training into high-impact, bite-sized classes."

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