In her book ‘The Battle for Home’, the Syrian architect Marwa Al-Sabouni focuses on Homs and how the city was destroyed by architecture even before the war began. Lilet Breddels discussed with her in Amsterdam last December, when she received a prestigious Prince Claus Award for her contribution to architectural thinking.
It’s shortly after the opening of UABB/SZ 2017 that I have an appointment with Liu Xiaodu, member of the curatorial team (together with his partner at Urbanus, Meng Yan, and famous art curator, Hou Hanru). We meet in the temporary library of the UABB, a space to sit and read about contributors and their contributions to this seventh iteration. His biennial is dedicated to the quality of diversity; Cities, Grow in Difference, it’s called. I explain that Volume is working on the theme of technology as a push factor in the spatial and social arrangements of our society and what role architectural design and the designer could have. As well as the divide between ‘coders’ and architects. It hits a sweet spot in Liu Xiaodu.
Shortly after the release of Volume 53: Civic Space, we realized that we left out a crucial group of stakeholders, animals. Starting from the ecosystem designed for the ‘Chickenville’ project, we discussed our shortcoming with SKROZ Architecture. Our conversation, informally carried out via messaging apps, shone a light on yet another sensitive term of mediation often forgotten in architecture: humour.
It’s been seven years since Daan Roggeveen and Michiel Hulshof published How the City Moved to Mr. Sun, the story of mass urbanization in China. It looked specifically at the mechanisms behind this phenomenon and the challenge to host the next 300 million people during the coming twenty years (starting from 2010). After Ole Bouman’s reflection on the Venice Architecture Biennale two weeks ago, this is the second prelude to Volume #54: On Biennials with a special on the UABB\Shenzhen.
When dealing with public space, time is rarely considered a variable in the equation. Quick to go to the square as the place where collective political action takes place, we often forget to think when such actions happen and what strategy might support them.
Jason Adams, Seattle-based media and political theorist, argues for political action on, in and through time – what might be called kairopolitics.
As the Chief Government Architect of The Netherlands Floris Alkemade is advising the cabinet on spatial quality, upon request or at his own initiative. He does so together with two other members of the Government Board of Advisors. Francesco Degl’Innocenti sat with him to discuss his ambitions in that role and the reach and limits of his arm. The conversation went from Mies to Mahler and from prisons to loneliness in the city.
Most people focus on object and form. Not Keller Easterling. She’s drawn to the in-between. Challenging the binaries of formal-informal, practical-impractical, like-dislike, right-wrong, Easterling points at extemporaneous design thinking that works with potentials and indeterminate forms. In this frame, space is an informational system where discrepancies between what an organization is saying and is actually doing open new territories for design to intervene.
Last year, Felix Madrazo and Adrien Ravon led the ‘Ego City’ research studio at The Why Factory at
TU Delft. It was one of a series of studios that explored the themes of density and desires. Ego City
focused on the individual and ways to claim and create space. In doing so, it questioned traditional
methods of using design to create a better future for all and probed the viability of post-design
GoogleUrbanism (GU) is a city management strategy making use of Google’s insatiable hunger for capitalization of ‘attention’ and quality data. Proposed by strategic urban designers/architects Nicolay Boyadjiev, Harshavardhan Bhat, Kirill Rostovsky and Andréa Savard-Beaudoin, GU intends to create a mutually beneficial relation between the commercial interests of tech companies and the city as political and social entity. In relation to Volume #50: Beyond Beyond, Denisse Vega de Santiago and Leonardo Dellanoce interviewed one of GU’s partners Nicolay Boyadjiev on the project.
Once every two years architecture schools around the world are invited to submit their single, finest graduation project to the Archiprix International competition and exhibition. Since its inception in 2001 (born out of the Dutch Archiprix), an ever increasing number of schools choose to participate. This year, Archiprix International selected Ahmedabad, in India, to exhibit the results. Volume spoke to Archiprix Director and “Mister Archiprix” Henk van der Veen.
The fourth edition of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale took place from 5 October to 12 December 2016. Chief curators Diogo Seixas Lopes and André Tavares created a program that included four exhibitions, a symposium, a series of talks and various publications under the umbrella title The Form of Form. Lilet Breddels visited the exhibitions and symposium, which clearly investigated a take on the profession of architecture as a specific type of knowledge. With the theme of Volume #50: Beyond Beyond still fresh in her mind, she asked the curators about their take on this notion of Beyond.
With Are We Human – the exhibition of the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennial – curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley are researching the very notion of ‘design’. Their historic, cultural and conceptual exploration attempts to unravel the various programs and ambitions behind a (mainly) market driven inventiveness, which is presented as progress. This is pushing the notion of design and the biennale as a format beyond their established definitions. Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley interviewed by Arjen Oosterman.
Irma Boom Interviewed by Arjen Oosterman for and published in the Chinese magazine Manifesto no. 21, published by Shanghai based The Design Republic.
Former Volume contributor, now editor in chief of Tracés* Christophe Catsaros interviewed Istanbul Design Biennial 2016 curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley on their intentions with this show: Are We Human? (20 Oct – 20 Nov 2016).
The Ganges River is India’s largest and most densely populated water basin. A lifeline to millions of people and carrying enormous celestial significance, the river is also severely polluted and suffers from dramatic droughts and floods. Vere van Gool spoke with Anthony Acciavatti to discuss the decade he spent navigating the Ganges and the new reading he was able to construct of this sacred river.
Architectural practice requires a degree of intimacy and insight into complex sets of forces. While building is architecture’s bread and butter, it’s not always the best format to make a statement. It’s sometimes not even the most appropriate language to respond to a brief. Volume spoke with Reinier de Graaf of OMA/AMO about how research and media can become a vessel for political agendas.
The political left has had a rough few decades; everything just seems to be going in the other direction. Instead of romanticizing what it would be like ‘only if’, we’d better get to work on figuring out how to turn the engine of progress around. Volume spoke with Adrian Lahoud about the stakes of architectural research within the academy today and how it might contribute to moving towards the horizons of the left.
Ben Vickers – Curator of Digital at the Serpentine Galleries and initiator of unMonastery – sat down with Vinay Gupta – one of the world’s leading thinkers on infrastructure theory, state failure solutions, and managing global system risks – to speak about practices and politics of decentralization. In 2002 Gupta invented an open-source solution to ‘house the world’. The hexayurt shelter is designed to be manufactured anywhere in the world at any scale and from local materials.
Learning by Doing: A digital interview with Francien van Westrenen, Willemijn Lofvers, Tim Devos and Hans Venhuizen, the intiatiors of Stroom Den Haag’s project ‘Stadsklas’.
Christian Kerez’s work is best known for the conceptual inventiveness he brings to ageold problems of form and tectonics. What is less known is the architect’s equally refreshing approach to mechanical systems. Here, Kerez talks about the Leutschenbach School in Zurich, and his ideas to integrate the air and other building services into this densely packed design.