LOADING

NESS.docs 2

2 days 13 hours ago
NESS.docs 2: Landscape as Urbanism in the Americas
Florencia Rodriguez, Mercedes Peralta, Jeannette Sordi (Editors)
Lots of Architecture –publishers, July 2020

Paperback | 8-1/2 x 11 inches | 208 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1732010635 | $23.00

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

The second issue of our monographic series reflects on the project of Landscape as Urbanism in the Americas, led by Charles Waldheim and the Office for Urbanization at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Curated together with Mercedes Peralta and Jeannette Sordi, NESS.docs 2 explores the potentials for landscape as a medium for urban intervention in the specific contexts of Latin-American cities.

More than twenty Latin American practices are shown and grouped in five different themes: Biological Environments, Resilient Grounds, Performative Systems, Revealed Protocols, and Assembled Natures. Finally, a conversation between Charles Waldheim, Florencia Rodriguez, and Luis Callejas deepens the discussion of our academic curricula, drawing as representation, political spaces, and the general sensitivity around landscape.

REFERRAL LINKS:

Buy from AbeBooks Buy from Amazon Buy from Bookshop.org Buy via IndieBound

dDAB COMMENTARY:

What is NESS.docs? According to Pablo Gerson and Florencia Rodriguez, editors of the young NESS magazine, it is a monographic series that "would not only feature individual practices but would also address topics that [they] thought deserved visibility, discussion, and reflection." The first NESS.docs, devoted to Hashim Sarkis, came in 2017. Sarkis, who splits his time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Beirut, was named curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale one year after the monograph was released. (With the pandemic, that Biennale has been delayed until a May 2021 opening.) The second publication in the series departs from the focus on a single architectural practice, as their words attest, but it tays firmly in Cambridge, featuring content culled from Landscape as Urbanism in the Americas, a multi-year collaboration between the Office for Urbanization at Harvard GSD and various Latin American institutions. 

Between March 2016 and May 2018, five conferences were held under the Landscape as Urbanism in the Americas banner in Medellín, Santiago, Brasilia, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires. A sixth, scheduled for March 2020 at Harvard GSD, would have brought the initiative to a conclusion, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the project's voluminous digital archive of more than sixty projects of landscape urbanism in Latin America provided plenty of content for a publication. In its final form, NESS.docs 2 features 25 of those projects in five thematic chapters (Biological Environments, Resilient Grounds, Performative Systems, Revealed Protocols, and Assembled Natures), with each chapter accompanied by a short essay addressing the topic. 

The book may be based on academic conferences that are focused on landscape urbanism — the sometimes contentious theory that challenges New Urbanism and elevates landscape and ecology over buildings — but the book should appeal to a wide range of architects and landscape architects due to the selection of the two-dozen projects and their presentation taking up most of its pages. Like the conferences, the projects range over much of Latin America. Much-published projects like Plan:B's and JPRCR's Orquideorama in Colombia are found alongside lesser known projects like Metro's Ladeira da Barroquinha in Brazil. Not all of the projects are built, but on the whole they show a strong embrace of landscape urbanism principles in Latin American contexts. As expressed by Charles Waldheim in his introduction, this embrace has occurred, in part, from Latin American architects carrying the theory with them after being subjected to it at the GSD. Whatever the case, the projects in NESS.docs 2 are an strong argument for landscape urbanism's continued relevance.

SPREADS:

John Hill

Architecture in Global Socialism

3 days 13 hours ago

Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War
Łukasz Stanek
Princeton University Press, January 2020

Hardcover | 8 x 11 inches | 368 pages | 277 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0691168708 | $60.00

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

In the course of the Cold War, architects, planners, and construction companies from socialist Eastern Europe engaged in a vibrant collaboration with those in West Africa and the Middle East in order to bring modernization to the developing world. Architecture in Global Socialism shows how their collaboration reshaped five cities in the Global South: Accra, Lagos, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait City.

Łukasz Stanek describes how local authorities and professionals in these cities drew on Soviet prefabrication systems, Hungarian and Polish planning methods, Yugoslav and Bulgarian construction materials, Romanian and East German standard designs, and manual laborers from across Eastern Europe. He explores how the socialist development path was adapted to tropical conditions in Ghana in the 1960s, and how Eastern European architectural traditions were given new life in 1970s Nigeria. He looks at how the differences between socialist foreign trade and the emerging global construction market were exploited in the Middle East in the closing decades of the Cold War. Stanek demonstrates how these and other practices of global cooperation by socialist countries—what he calls socialist worldmaking—left their enduring mark on urban landscapes in the postcolonial world.

Featuring an extensive collection of previously unpublished images, Architecture in Global Socialism draws on original archival research on four continents and a wealth of in-depth interviews. This incisive book presents a new understanding of global urbanization and its architecture through the lens of socialist internationalism, challenging long-held notions about modernization and development in the Global South.

Łukasz Stanek is senior lecturer at the Manchester School of Architecture, University of Manchester, UK. He is the author of Henri Lefebvre on Space: Architecture, Urban Research, and the Production of Theory and the editor of Team 10 East: Revisionist Architecture in Real Existing Modernism.

REFERRAL LINKS:

Buy from AbeBooks Buy from Amazon Buy from Bookshop.org Buy via IndieBound

dDAB COMMENTARY:

Images of the aftermath of the August 4th blast at the port in Beirut showed an area completely flattened, minus one structure: a badly damaged concrete grain silo. Later stories revealed that the industrial structure was built in the late 1960s by the Czech company Prumstav. This apparently minor fact hinted at cooperations in the Cold War years between then-Socialist countries in the north and countries in what is now called the Global South. Although neither this structure nor Beirut is found in Łukasz Stanek's Architecture in Global Socialism, his book explores just that terrain: the involvement of architects and planners from Eastern Bloc countries in the physical development of decolonized countries in Africa and the Middle East after World War II.

Architecture in Global Socialism is an impressive document that is the culmination of many years Stanek has focused on intercontinental cooperation. I was first exposed to his approach with the 2012 book Postmodernism Is Almost All Right: Polish Architecture After Socialist Globalization, which came out of PRL™ Export Architecture and Urbanism From Socialist Poland, an exhibition at the Museum of Technology in Warsaw in 2010. As I wrote in my review of the book, "Polish architects were sought after to work in these contexts [Algeria, Iran, Kuwait, etc.], and they treated the opportunities as means of formal and urban experimentation that would eventually be imported back home." While the earlier book is a heavily illustrated and focused on the form of buildings (all PoMo, as the title implies) and how they fit into their context, the new book is a deep, thoroughly researched history of architectural mobilities and "worldmaking" during the Cold War.

Stanek's subject is complex, to say the least, but he focuses on a handful of places to trace a triangular trajectory between Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East. These cities are Accra, Lagos, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait City. Outside of the last two, which are grouped together, each city is given its own chapter, with Stanek using interviews, studies, and firsthand visits to tell the stories of notable architects, buildings, and master plans. For me, an American architect educated in highly biased Western histories of architecture, the book is one surprise after another. This is hardly a shock. After all, Stanek writes in the introduction that the engagements of Eastern European architects in the Global South "have been almost completely written out of Western-based historiography of architecture," a "blind spot" his book serves to fill.

One standout surprise is the work of Polish architect and scholar Zbigniew Dmochowski in Nigeria, discussed at length in the chapter on Lagos. (A short excerpt from the chapter is published in Strelka Mag.) Dmochowski, who had studied vernacular buildings in Poland in the 1930s and wrote The Architecture of Poland in 1956, moved to Lagos in 1958, the same year Nigeria's independence was formalized. Like in Poland, Dmochowski honed in on traditional buildings and went on to lead the Museum of Traditional Nigerian Architecture (MOTNA) in Jos, teach at the Zaria School of Architecture, and write the three-volume, now-hard-to-find Introduction to Traditional Nigerian Architecture, published posthumously in 1990. His timing and focus on vernacular architecture emphasized documenting (especially through isometric drawings) a native Nigerian architecture in the face of its immediate colonial past.

In Nigeria, Dmochowski and his drawings are remembered to this day, something Stanek discovered in his travels. To Stanek, Dmochowski's work in Nigeria "shows the instrumentality of Eastern Europeans in the indigenization of colonial knowledge by the postcolonial state" and the "mediating function assumed by Eastern Europeans in the process of decolonization of Nigerian architecture." His story is but one told in this scholarly but readable book, one example of highly cooperative exchanges between Socialist countries and the Global South that are unlike the cynical, incentivized character of most international "cooperation" today.

SPREADS:

John Hill

Modern in the Middle

4 days 13 hours ago
Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-1975
Susan S. Benjamin, Michelangelo Sabatino
The Monacelli Press, September 2020

Hardcover | 8-1/2 x 11-1/2 inches | 296 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1580935265 | $60.00

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

Famed as the birthplace of that icon of twentieth-century architecture, the skyscraper, Chicago also cultivated a more humble but no less consequential form of modernism–the private residence. Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75 explores the substantial yet overlooked role that Chicago and its suburbs played in the development of the modern single-family house in the twentieth century. In a city often associated with the outsize reputations of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the examples discussed in this generously illustrated book expand and enrich the story of the region’s built environment.

Authors Susan Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino survey dozens of influential houses by architects whose contributions are ripe for reappraisal, such as Paul Schweikher, Harry Weese, Keck & Keck, and William Pereira. From the bold, early example of the “Battledeck House” by Henry Dubin (1930) to John Vinci and Lawrence Kenny’s gem the Freeark House (1975), the generation-spanning residences discussed here reveal how these architects contended with climate and natural setting while negotiating the dominant influences of Wright and Mies. They also reveal how residential clients–typically middle-class professionals, progressive in their thinking–helped to trailblaze modern architecture in America. Though reflecting different approaches to site, space, structure, and materials, the examples in Modern in the Middle reveal an abundance of astonishing houses that have never been collected into one study–until now.

Susan Benjamin is a noted historic preservationist and published architectural historian based in Chicago. Michelangelo Sabatino directs the PhD program in architecture and is the inaugural John Vinci Distinguished Research Fellow at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

REFERRAL LINKS:

Buy from AbeBooks Buy from Amazon Buy from Bookshop.org Buy via IndieBound

dDAB COMMENTARY:

I grew up in Northbrook, a Chicago suburb located about twenty miles north of the Loop. My childhood home was a long walk from the village's main shopping area, the public library, and the adjacent water tower, the last of which was famously emblazoned with "Save Ferris" for John Hughes's Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Given that Hughes lived in the area, much of the movie — and others he made in the 1980s — was filmed on location in Chicago and the north suburbs. Yet the titular character's house (among many other locales) is actually located in Los Angeles, specifically 4160 Country Club Drive in Long Beach. I chalk this up to suburban sameness and the ability of one to pass off as any other. 

But what about Cameron's house, the glass box dramatically perched over a ravine, the same ravine his parent's red Ferrari lands in near the end of the film? That is the Rose House designed by A. James Speyer and located in Highland Park, just northeast of Northbrook. More accurately, the structure damaged by the car is the Rose Auto Pavilion designed by architect David Haid, a student of Speyer's, who added the detached structure in 1974, 21 years after the original was completed. I can only guess that if Hughes used a modern house in Los Angeles, of which there are plenty, the North Shore-ness of the film would have been derailed. Yes, I can see a Ferrari being launched through a plate glass wall of John Lautner's Chemosphere, but not without it looking obviously Los Angeles rather than being able to pull off suburban Chicago.

The lover of modern houses in me chalks up the above to a few things, most notably the particular way modern houses relate to their landscapes, especially compared to typical suburban blocks lined with typical suburban houses. Not all Chicago houses have such dramatic properties as the Rose House, but the dozens of houses collected in Modern in the Middle  — of which Cameron's family's house is one of them — exhibit some tendencies that capture the flavor of modern residential architecture in Chicagoland in the middle of last century. Much of that flavor comes about through the selection of houses by historian Susan Benjamin and architect Michelangelo Sabatino. 

Spanning from 1929 to 1975, as the subtitle makes clear, there is a predominance of International Style modernism, much of it influenced by Mies van der Rohe. Naturally, Mies is included in the book (Plano falls into the Chicago orbit with this book's fairly large geographical reach), but so are Frank Lloyd Wright, Bertrand Goldberg, Stanley Tigerman, Bruce Goff, Keck & Keck, and Harry Weese; all familiar names. But architects who know a lot about architecture in Chicago will be more enamored with the many houses designed by forgotten architects. How many people know, for instance, Le Roy Binkley? I didn't, so the house he designed for himself in Long Grove is a treat — one of many in the book. Binkley's house is given only two pages and doesn't include a plan, but most houses are given at least four pages and are documented with a floor plan. Photos are in abundance, but most of them are b/w and appear to be historic rather than contemporary. Reading their descriptions reveals if the houses are still extant.

Bookending the portfolios of houses are one essay by each author at the front of the book, a couple essays at the back of the book, and a section titled "The Authors and Their Homes." The essays are excellent in providing context and making an argument for the appreciation and preservation of the many houses in the book, but the inclusion of the authors' houses is most telling. These peeks make the authors' houses highly personal, and the portfolio that precedes them does the same: telling the histories of the houses in terms of the clients as much as their architects and designs. Given that most of these houses were expensive to design and build, and were built in pricey suburbs, the book's architectural/social history is of an upper-middle-class leaning — one that John Hughes and his cast of characters would have been at home in.

SPREADS:

John Hill

The Architecture Machine

5 days 13 hours ago
The Architecture Machine: The Role of Computers in Architecture
Teresa Fankhänel, Andres Lepik (Editors)
Birkhäuser, July 2020

Hardcover | 8-1/4 x 11 inches | 248 pages | 230 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3035621549 | $45.99

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

Today, it is hard to imagine the everyday work in an architectural practice without computers. Bits and bytes play an important role in the design and presentation of architecture. The book, which is published in the context of an exhibition of the same name of the Architekturmuseum der TUM at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich (October 14, 2020 to January 10, 2021), for the first time considers – in depth – the development of the digital in architecture.

In four chapters, it recounts this intriguing history from its beginnings in the 1950s through to today and presents the computer as a drawing machine, as a design tool, as a medium for telling stories, and as an interactive communication platform. The basic underlying question is simple: Has the computer changed architecture? And if so, by how much?

Teresa Fankhänel and Andres Lepik are curator and director, respectively, at the Architekturmuseum der TUM.

REFERRAL LINKS:

Buy from AbeBooks Buy from Amazon Buy from Bookshop.org Buy via IndieBound

dDAB COMMENTARY:

Last week the exhibition The Architecture Machine, curated by Teresa Fankhänel, opened at Architekturmuseum der TUM, the Munich institution directed by Andres Lepik. The pair edited the companion catalog, which consists of nearly 40 case studies spanning more than 50 years, from Sketchpad in 1963 to the ubiquity of computer software used for modeling, drafting, rendering, and just about every other architectural task today. Humorously, Sketchpad, described in the book as "one of the first programs that allowed users to manipulate, operate, and active categories of objects through a ... graphical user interface," was reconstructed by CMU professor Daniel Cardoso Llach in 2017. Needless to say, the latter — even as it used contemporary technologies (stylus, tablet) in place of the old ones (light pen, CRT screen) — amplifies the dramatic strides taken in the last half-century when it comes to the incorporation of computers into architectural design.

Four chapters trace roughly the same timespan with themes that see the "The Computer as...": ...a Drawing Machine; ... a Design Tool; ...a Medium for Storytelling; and ...an Interactive Platform. (See also second spread below.) Flipping through the case studies in each chapter is like quickly moving forward in time, from colored lines on black backgrounds and rudimentary wireframes in the 1980s, to now awkward-looking blobs from the late 1990s and today's hyperrealistic renderings that might look awkward to future generations. For me, an architect who was educated with hand drafting but then had to quickly learn CAD upon graduation in order to actually get a job, the journeys in each chapter are nostalgic yet far from personal; many of the projects were carried out by digital innovators who were on the margins, sitting at computers when others were crouched over drafting tables. The case studies reveal just how much was being done by so few people in the early days of CAD, well before it became widespread in the late 1990s.

To give a sense of the range of the case studies, a few examples. The first chapter, which is the most historical chapter of the four, includes the Multihalle in Mannheim, the timber gridshell pavilion from 1975 designed by Carlfried Mutschler and engineered by Frei Otto. Although it was designed using wire-mesh models, in the vein of Antoni Gaudi's famous hanging-chain models from decades earlier, Ove Arup & Partners analyzed the structure with the help of a CDC 6600 mainframe computer, generating a digital plan layout for the gridshell. Later, in chapter four, is Asymptote Architecture's Guggenheim Virtual Museum, which was designed on the cusp of the Millennium, around the time the New York Stock Exchange approached the studio to design "a state of the art virtual reality environment." Like NYSE, the Guggenheim project (third and fourth spreads below) was completely virtual but it had smooth, flowing architectural forms that echoed buildings being done at the time (e.g., Nox's H20 Expo). Ultimately, the Guggenheim project was shelved by the events of September 11, 2001, just as less than a year later it cancelled the Gehry-designed outpost proposed for the Lower Manhattan waterfront.

Beyond the case studies are eight essays (two per chapter) from contributors outside of TUM, and at the back of the book are three Architectural Software Timelines that trace a half-century of advances in drawing and modeling, rendering and animation, and scripting and analysis. The timelines are particularly helpful since each case study is tagged, in digital parlance, with the softwares used to create them. Although this book is far from technical, architects interested in the evolution of architecture at the hands of CAD and other software should like this historical overview of a period of dramatic change.
John Hill

Flores & Prats: Sala Beckett

6 days 10 hours ago
Flores & Prats: Sala Beckett: International Drama Centre
Richard Flores, Eva Prats
Arquine, May 2020

Paperback | 8-1/4 x 11-3/4 inches | 304 pages | 295 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-6079489564 | $35.00

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:

The Workers Cooperative Pau i Justícia in Poblenou, very active for much of the twentieth century, closed its doors in the late 1990s and left the building abandoned and in an advanced state of ruin.

The Sala Beckett, one of the driving forces of Catalan theatre since its foundation in the late 1980s as the headquarters of the company El Teatro Fronterizo of José Sanchis Sinisterra, and directed by Toni Casares since 1997, was left without its headquarters in the neighbourhood of Gràcia, in the mid-2000s.

Following a public competition in 2011, the Sala Beckett team and Flores & Prats studio undertook a process of rehabilitation of this former Workers Cooperative to convert it into the new Sala Beckett / International Drama Centre. The building, abandoned for more than twenty years, was still very present in the memory of the neighbours living around it, so, this became the recovery of social heritage as well as physical heritage. The final result captures the era of the Cooperative, the era of abandonment, and the era of the new Sala Beckett.

Ricardo Flores studied architecture at the Faculty of Architecture in Buenos Aires FADU-UBA, graduating in 1992 ... from 1993 to 1998, collaborated as Design Architect at Arch. Enric Miralles’ office ... in 1998 established in Barcelona the office of architecture Flores & Prats Archs, with Eva Prats, who studied architecture at the ETSAB, Barcelona School of Architecture, graduating in 1992 ... collaborated as Design Architect at Arch. Enric Miralles’ office, from 1991 to 1994 ... in 1998 established in Barcelona the office of architecture Flores & Prats Archs, with Ricardo Flores.

REFERRAL LINKS:

Buy from AbeBooks Buy from Amazon Buy from Bookshop.org Buy via IndieBound

dDAB COMMENTARY:

One of the highlights of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale was Liquid Light, Flores & Prat's presentation of their design for Sala Beckett in Barcelona. Occupying a portion of the impressive Corderie space at the Arsenale, the two-sided presentation provided a full-size mockup of a portion of the project along the walkway and, on the flip side, a back-of-house area with sketches, drawings, photographs, and study models. (The latter can be seen in my photograph from the Biennale's vernissage, when I happened to capture Flores talking with a journalist.) While I didn't think of it at the time, the abundance of materials for a relatively diminutive project (3,000 m2 with a budget of 2.5 mil euros) certainly pointed to the potential for a book-length document to be produced. Two years later it has arrived, and it is impressive — as much as the exhibition and the Sala Beckett itself.

Sala Beckett is the transformation of the old Cooperativa Paz y Justicia in Barcelona's Poblenou neighborhood into a home for the theater group named for Samuel Beckett. Flores & Prats won the design competition in 2011 and five years later the building opened to the public. Where before the two-story building housed a gymnasium, pool, cafe, theater, classrooms, and other spaces tailored to the worker's cooperative, the Sala Becket features a bar, two theaters, classrooms, offices, and related spaces for learning, practicing, and performing. Some of these before-and-after functions overlap, but for the most part the new uses depart considerably from what was there before and therefore required a good amount of demolition in order to reconfigure the interior. Yet somehow, as captured in completed photographs, it looks like nothing was done to the building. The book's 304 pages explain just how this impression came to be.

The book starts with the essay "How should the New Sala Beckett be? An important decision" by Toni Casares, director of Sala Beckettt, and features texts by architects Ricardo Flores and Eva Prats, as well as contributions from Juan José Lahuerta, Soraya Smithson, Sergi Belbel, Carlota Coloma and Adrià Lahuerta, Manuel Guerrero Brullet, and Ellis Woodman. But really it's a book about the visuals: the finished photographs, construction photos, drawings, models, sketches, and other images revealing the design and realization of the project. (The architects' online book presentation from June gives a great peek inside the book, while also allowing them to share some of the models and other artifacts in their office.) Of course, the images don't stand alone; they are accompanied by informative captions that aid greatly in telling the story of Sala Beckett's new home. But the book is just one means for Flores & Prats to tell that story, one on equal footing with the Biennale intervention and the five-part documentary series Escala 1:5 (both are discussed at length in the book).

Photographs of the completed Sala Beckett reveal layers of new and old but also an uncertainty as to where one era ends and the other begins. The architects' meticulous cataloging of all of the existing building's elements — windows, doors, floor tiles, fixtures, decorations, etc. — informed their decision to treat the design as, in part, a recomposition of the original. There are certainly new elements, as well as new cuts into the building for natural light and enlarging spaces; and not all of the old materials were retained. But the overall feeling is one of respect: for the original, for the theater group, and for the architects' ability in adapting the former for the latter. With this book I feel like I know Sala Beckett intimately, even more than buildings I've visited. As with any good building monograph, this one really makes me want to go see it in person.

SPREADS:

John Hill
Checked
6 hours 10 minutes ago
(Almost) daily reviews of architecture books
Subscribe to A Daily Dose of Architecture Books feed
Paragon Group Careers

 

Get the new Brave Browser