“Architecture as intellectual inquiry needs to take more risks”

The second Chicago Architecture Biennial tackles the broad and tempestuous topic of history, but plays it too safe, says Mimi Zeiger in this Opinion column. I’m not going to define history. No matter how heavily that word weighs on the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which opened last weekend. Neither will artistic directors Sharon Johnston and Mark

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“Let’s save some of the Whitechapel Fatberg”

The 130-tonne “fatburg” discovered below the streets of east London earlier this month serves as a reminder of how sophisticated Victorian engineering has liberated people from having to think about waste, says Will Wiles. In 1965, American sculptor Claes Oldenburg proposed an object of quite unforgettable brute simplicity for New York City. Oldenburg may be best

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“Astana is a metropolis of obsolescence”

Astana Expo 2017 may have aspired to a post-carbon future, but it was hard to imagine from the capital of a country made wealthy by fossil fuels, says Owen Hatherley. The thing not to say about the expo building in Astana, Kazakhstan, is that it looks like the Death Star. Designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill,

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“The more we build in areas that endanger us, the more we erect defensive systems”

Disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are inevitable when we construct cities in harm’s way, says Aaron Betsky, who believes we have designed ourselves into a Catch-22 of create and protect. It could have been worse. That is the best you can say about the twin natural catastrophes that hit Texas and Florida recently. The

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“Urban design caused the Hurricane Harvey disaster”

Houston’s poor urban planning, not climate change, is to blame for the catastrophic flooding following Hurricane Harvey, says disaster expert Ilan Kelman in this Opinion column. Hurricane Harvey was a major storm with extensive rainfall. It was not a natural disaster. The disaster was caused by human decisions to live in a hurricane zone without

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“The Garden Bridge’s cancellation provides an opportunity that mustn’t be wasted”

Now that the Heatherwick-designed Garden Bridge has been officially scrapped, its time to think again about London really needs, says Owen Hatherley. The cancellation of the Garden Bridge is one of those rare and precious moments where concerted campaigning, from a variety of groups, over several years, has managed to have a decisive effect. In the

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“The architectural world seems to be responding to Charlottesville with deafening silence”

When Neo-Nazis are marching in the streets, architects need to to step up and confront the issues surrounding colonial monuments, argues Phineas Harper. Baying Neo-Nazis grasping flaming torches on the steps of the University of Virginia’s Rotunda, designed by president-turned-architect, Thomas Jefferson in the 1820s, was the chilling prelude to the events of Saturday 12

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“We have much to learn from the ‘timber constructivists'”

Architects designing for America’s future suburbs should look back to the country’s unsung modernists, who created site-appropriate and liveable timber homes across the USA, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. Drive around the suburbs that arose around most American cities immediately before and after the second world war and you can spot them immediately:

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“Designers, contractors or the local authority could all be blamed for breaching a duty to warn”

Six weeks on from the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, architects, construction firms or the council could be found liable under the “duty to warn” principle, says construction lawyer Jason Kallis. In the refurbishment of a high-rise building such as Grenfell Tower, there would have been more than one person or corporation responsible for design. Simultaneously, it

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“Rei Kawakubo is an architect of clothes”

The Met’s Comme des Garçons exhibition demonstrates how forward-thinking designers like Rei Kawakubo are using new digital crafts to manipulate both the body and architectural space, says Aaron Betsky in his latest Opinion column. There is a mix of architecture and fashion in the exhibition of Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in

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“Call us dull, call us sellouts, call us gentrifiers – just don’t call us copycats”

Architects shouldn’t be afraid to copy successful ideas like Assemble’s pop-up cinema, says Phineas Harper in his latest Opinion column. Dezeen readers, you have a dark obsession. Not an obsession with chic staircase porn, IKEA hacks or the latest gossip engulfing Bjarke Ingels, something more insidious. It is an obsession that clogs the comments section of this

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“A golden age of architectural drawing awaits”

The advent of 3D-modelling software may not spell the end for architectural drawing after all, says Owen Hopkins. Architectural drawing is in crisis, one that’s arguably been brewing since the 1980s, with the advent of the first commercially available CAD packages and the new freedoms for the screen. Yet, the real revolution came with the arrival of

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“A lethal failure of oversight, like at Grenfell Tower, was going to happen sooner or later”

The devastating fire at London’s Grenfell Tower has highlighted the widespread neglect of the UK’s residential high-rises, and the undeserved contempt held for the people that live in them, says Owen Hatherley. This column was going to be about the election of a left-wing architectural historian and housing campaigner as Member of Parliament for Kensington in the UK’s general

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“Frank Lloyd Wright remains America’s greatest architect”

Rounding off our celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, Aaron Betsky dissects the American architect’s array of buildings to prove why his body of work remains unmatched in the USA. There are few experiences in architecture more rewarding than visiting a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. What exactly makes them so good? The

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“The Japanese House is about fear, imagination, aggression and dreams”

The Japanese House exhibition at London’s Barbican doesn’t offer solutions to the housing crisis, says Owen Hatherley, but it does show what’s possible when architects respond to extreme change and instability. In most places, certainly in Britain, the point of the private house is stability and predictability. Increasing in correlation with the rise of the house as

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“I am not a female architect. I am an architect”

We need to stop promoting “female architects” in worthy lists and exhibitions, so that women can be seen as more than second-class citizens, argues Danish architect Dorte Mandrup. I was mentioned on Dezeen’s list of 50 inspirational female architects and designers, to mark International Women’s Day back in March. While I greatly appreciated the gesture and sympathise with the idea

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“There should be no top 10 prizes for sustainable architecture”

Awards should not be bestowed on buildings that boast sustainable credentials but lack other design merits, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. If a thoroughly mediocre building uses less energy and is made in ways that are more “sustainable”, should it receive an award? The American Institute of Architects (AIA) apparently thinks so. This

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“Hard to believe this is a product of one of the most admired creative partnerships of the last two decades”

By bringing together commerce and ornament, the now-defunct Foreign Office Architects has produced a shopping centre that looks like a giant black slug, says Owen Hatherley in his latest Opinion column. You remember Foreign Office Architects. The London-based firm was dissolved five years ago with the split of its main partners, Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo, but

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“To confront populism, all architects should become classicists”

If today’s architects abandoned their modern vocabulary in favour of populist traditional or classical styles, they could achieve more progressive social goals, says Phineas Harper in his latest Opinion column. As surprise election fever grips the UK, buried on YouTube you can find an obscure promotional film for the only British political party with an

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“Perhaps architects should work on Trump’s wall”

For some architects, the decision not to bid for Donald Trump’s US-Mexico border wall is easy. But Aaron Betsky questions whether working the project is as unethical as it first seems in this Opinion column. “For us it is very simple. We are a small firm and we all agree. We are not going to

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“Belarus is a place that badly needs shaking up”

With widespread protest taking place across Belarus, the design of public spaces and social legacies has become a critical project for the nation’s architects, says Owen Hatherley in his latest Opinion column. For one of the least-visited capital cities in Europe, the Belarusian capital Minsk is a city very concerned with its surfaces. In a country often

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“Why do architects dictate children’s play so stringently?”

We need to stop concentrating our energies on hazard-proofing playgrounds, and worry instead about how our buildings and environments could be better suited to children, says Phineas Harper in this Opinion column. How often have you seen a child scolded for attempting to climb up the ramp of a playground slide, rather than descending demurely down it? Take

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“MIPIM is one big performance with the purpose of speaking cities into existence”

Is it possible to speak buildings into being? The exhibitors at annual property fair MIPIM may try, but they need to come up with far more extreme fictions, says Sam Jacob in his latest Opinion column. “The beginning, as every one knows, is of supreme importance in everything, and particularly in the founding and building of a city,” so says

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“Should we resurrect dead buildings?”

In light of plans to bring the neoclassical Penn Station and Frank Lloyd Wright’s lost pavilions back to life, Aaron Betsky argues that architects should focus on renovating existing buildings rather than replacing new with old, in this Opinion column. It is a standard plot twist in science fiction films: a loved one has died,

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“RCR’s work is under the radar, yet it is stealthily evolving in scale and ambition”

Awarding the Pritzker Prize to little-known RCR Arquitectes is a quiet rebuke against the superficiality and greed that has dominated architectural culture around the world, says Catherine Slessor in this Opinion column. When it was announced that Catalan trio RCR had been awarded this year’s Pritzker Prize, the initial sentiment that engulfed the chattering conduits of social media was “Who

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“Architects and designers are no good at altering your mental topography”

With her latest exhibition, British artist Laura Oldfield Ford is more likely to change your understanding of London’s working-class landscape than any architect or designer, says Owen Hatherley in this Opinion column. At the far end of Laura Oldfield Ford’s exhibition Alpha/Isis/Eden – on at the Showroom Gallery in Lisson Grove, just northwest of central London – is an image taken from

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“Sublime images are just mirages that are destined to remain in books”

Although projects by OMA and BIG have come close, we’re still a way off realising “sublime” architecture through generic forms, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. Can the absolutely normal and everyday be beautiful? Two recent books claim it can be. They take standard, interchangeable building blocks of the kind we see everyday –

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“Mies’ Mansion House Square is the greatest public space never to have been built in London”

Mies van der Rohe’s unbuilt London tower would have been more than a modernist icon, it would have created the only useable space for protest in the City of London, says Jack Self in this Opinion column. For the first time in more than 30 years, Mies van der Rohe’s only UK project is being presented

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“However brutal, the Yolocaust website gave meaning to Berlin’s Holocaust memorial”

By juxtaposing selfies taken by visitors to Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust memorial with archive photos from concentration camps, artist Shahak Shapira has revealed why design that shames is important, says Owen Hatherley in his latest Opinion column. I came across Yolocaust on the Twitter account of historian Alex Von Tunzelmann. Clearly unsure about whether or not to link to it at

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“Augmented reality heralds the abolition of architectural practice as we know it”

Augmented reality could lead to a dystopian world where everyone is trapped by their own views. It’s up to architects to set them free, argues Owen Hopkins in his first Opinion column for Dezeen. Walking down a street in central London, I stare down at my smartphone screen. Only a few more metres to go. I quicken my pace,

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“Poverty should never be an Instagram filter”

Iwan Baan’s arresting images of the Kenyan school built by architect duo Selgascano are a typical example of the slum porn that has infiltrated western media, argues Phineas Harper in his latest Opinion column. As a racist president settles into a newly gold-curtained Oval Office and a wave of xenophobia sweeps Europe, dramatic racial inequality has

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“Architecture that constructs a better world, not better bubbles, is the true task in this new year”

With Donald Trump’s presidency looming, Aaron Betsky’s latest Opinion column stresses the need for architecture that will bring America’s isolated communities together, and not just benefit the world of pick-up-truck drivers. We live in a pick-up nation, and we have elected a president who represents that particular mobile bubble. Those of us who live in

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New Year’s resolutions for architecture and design in 2017

With 2016 coming to an end, Will Wiles doses out his New Year’s resolutions for architecture and design in 2017, which include resisting the hygge trend and finally taking responsibility for the climate. I suggested New Year’s Resolutions for architecture and design at the end of 2015, and the response was great. So, one year later, I’ve

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“The best new towns achieved something the original garden city never did”

The sleepy town of Letchworth, England, may have been the first garden city, but it wasn’t particularly radical, says Owen Hatherley in his latest Opinion column. In the exhibition Alternative Letchworth, there is a series of little surveys you can fill out and attach to the wall, in the fashion popular recently in contemporary art galleries and museums.

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“Design strategies robust enough to resist this new political climate have yet to emerge”

US architects disillusioned by the AIA’s post-election sentiment should use critical speculation to help reimagine the country’s built environment and remain hopeful, suggests Mimi Zeiger in this Opinion column. It’s hard to believe that it was only last month that Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), pledged

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“With a good culture war, you can ignore the real reason why British transport architecture is so grim”

The problem with Britain’s railway stations isn’t anything to do with style, it’s that they are all just malls waiting to happen, argues Owen Hatherley in his latest Opinion column. It never usually bodes well when a government minister decides to pass judgment on architecture. And so it was when John Hayes – the newly appointed transport minister

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“We need more Schumachers prepared to shake up consensus thinking”

Patrik Schumacher’s views on housing may be hard to swallow, but pressuring him into silence sets a dangerous example, argues Austin Williams in this Opinion column. Something strange has happened in the past year. Sensible people have taken leave of their senses. Intelligent people have started throwing the word “fascist” around. People who would once have defended democracy are seeking to

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“It is time to stop listening to Patrik Schumacher”

Patrik Schumacher’s vision for a deregulated and privatised city is nothing more than a rehash of failed establishment ideas, and we shouldn’t pay any attention, argues Phineas Harper in his latest Opinion column. How exhilarating, an architect’s lecture has made the mainstream news. Not only has the speech been picked up by the London Evening Standard, but it made

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“Something is rotten when my trainers are more customised than my funeral”

Death urgently needs a redesign, says Phineas Harper in his latest Opinion column. What can architecture possibly do to confront the terrifying enormity of death? The pseudo-Christian customs that constitute most funereal rituals in the West feel stale and emaciated. Off-the-shelf ceremonies are peddled by an industry at best unable to console, and at worst exploitative

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“How Donald Trump will solve America’s infrastructure problems is completely unclear”

Hillary Clinton’s plans to improve infrastructure in the USA weren’t ambitious enough, but at least she had plans, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. America needs a lot of work. Its roads and bridges are crumbling. Its airports are a mess. It has virtually no long-distance public transportation system. Below the surface, sewers and

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“Trumpitecture stands as a sad but honest reflection of the values Trump proudly embodies”

The garish and self-indulgent buildings developed by Republican candidate Donald Trump reveal a lot about how he would run America if elected president tomorrow, says US architect Doug Staker in this Opinion column. As an architect trained in the ways of contemporary thought, it was hard for me to take Donald Trump seriously as a

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“John Pawson said children love minimalist spaces. And he’s right”

Brutalist or minimalist architecture is better suited to families with children than you might think, says Will Wiles in his latest Opinion column. I write these words through a fog of exhaustion. On the last day of September we welcomed into the world our second child. The nights since have not been peaceful or restful. But before this zombie-like

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“Building cannot be separated from the economics that drive construction”

Both Amanda Levete’s MAAT museum and the Lisbon Architecture Triennale opened in the Portuguese capital earlier this month. Together they prove that architecture is physically shaped by its fiscal situation, says Mimi Zeiger in this week’s Opinion. PR logistics sometimes brings together strange bedfellows. This was the case in Lisbon, where the opening of the nearly complete

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“Designers and diplomats must work more closely together”

The design community and foreign policymakers need to attend each other’s events and communicate, if we are to find solutions to global urbanisation issues, says US Department of State advisor Ian Klaus. London Design Biennale kicked off at Somerset House along the River Thames on 7 September 2016. That same day in New York, diplomats met

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“Installation art has finally taken over the last bastion of architecture”

Opinion: colossal public artworks like Thomas Heatherwick’s interlinking staircases for New York are the architectural monuments of our time, says Aaron Betsky. The infamous Bilbao Effect might have been the last gasp of great architecture giving us a thrill. Gone are the days of the Eiffel Tower and the Parthenon, the Mall in Washington and More

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“The housing crisis isn’t a crisis, it’s a design project”

Opinion: the UK’s housing crisis is no accident, but has been carefully orchestrated to become a catch-all excuse for self-serving projects, argues Phineas Harper in his first Opinion column for Dezeen. The housing crisis isn’t a crisis. Calling it one inhibits effective action and plays into the hands of its creators. To respond strategically to the crippling British homes More

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“Let’s move to radical Essex”

Opinion: the radical buildings in the English county of Essex suggest that avant-garde architecture is better found in the suburbs than the cities, says Owen Hatherley. “The only way is Radical Essex” is one of the better slogans to have been printed on an architecture-related tote bag in recent years. It comes in a variety of bright pinks, blues More

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“We can’t stop superblocks or sprawl, but we have to make space for life in between”

Opinion: Aaron Betsky finds lessons for western city planners and designers in amongst the mega-blocks, privatised spaces and urban sprawl of Asian cities. As a tourist and business traveller, I usually jet in and out of cities around the world, glancing at them from cars or buses as I try to figure out what they More

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“DS+R’s education building suggests architectural innovation can still be put to the public good”

Opinion: the light-filled, social spaces at Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s medical education centre at Columbia University could make future doctors demand more from their workspaces and ultimately pave the way for better hospitals, says Alan G Brake. Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) have produced a strange, striking, and sophisticated new building for the Columbia Medical Center. Architectural insiders More

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“Vyborg looks like Helsinki might after a long, drawn out war”

Opinion: with the exemplary restoration of Alvar Aalto’s seminal Viipuri/Vyborg Library, Finland has schooled Russia in how to treat its neglected 20th century buildings. Now they need to restore the rest of the city, says Owen Hatherley. One of the major buildings by one of the 20th century’s five or so most praised architects has More

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“Architecture can feel like a paltry gesture in times like ours”

Opinion: meaningful architectural reactions to crises may take time, but quick temporary structures can be just as effective, and both are far preferable to not responding at all says Mimi Zeiger. I admit it; I’ve retreated. In the midst of a scorching summer of bigotry and violence, where every day serves up another horror at More

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“We could imagine nationhood as a design project”

Opinion: in the aftermath of the EU referendum, Britain has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redesign itself as a coherent, relevant and functioning nation for the 21st century, says Sam Jacob. You know that feeling when you break something? When that thing, which you didn’t even need to think about when it ran smoothly, is now in pieces? Well, that was More

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“We are all responsible for the state of architectural education in the UK”

Opinion: shocking new statistics about the mental health of architecture students in the UK should be a wake-up call for both architects and educators, says Robert Mull. Last week, a survey by UK magazine The Architects’ Journal showed that 26 per cent of architecture students had received medical help for mental health problems resulting from More

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“Kiev is a city where any and all public space is seized upon by parasitic capital”

Opinion: a temporary installation around a plinth that once hosted an infamous statue of Lenin in Ukraine accidentally highlights a deeper problem facing the city than what to do with the relics of Soviet rule, finds Owen Hatherley. This month, the Mexican artist Cynthia Gutierrez staged an “intervention” in a public space in Kiev, Ukraine. Called More

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“New York is rapidly evolving beyond a Manhattan-centric identity”

Opinion: major landscape interventions like West 8’s recently opened The Hills on Governors Island, along with planned improvements to transport links, will bolster New York’s coherence as a multi-island metropolis says Alan G Brake. Starting this week, New Yorkers and visitors to the city will have a new must-see landscape offering a whole new perspective More

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“Europe has been for the lucky few in the UK”

Opinion: Richard Rogers’ vision for a more European form of British architecture promised to create modern and prosperous urban environments. But this “new Europe” failed to reach the suburban council estates and cul-de-sacs that backed Brexit, says Owen Hatherley. A couple of days after the result of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, I visited Southampton, More

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“After decades of Detroit ruin porn, America’s Biennale exhibition runs riot”

Opinion: the imaginative but unrealistic proposals for Detroit on show at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale have left Aaron Betsky wondering if there is hope for architectural projects among the city’s ruins. “In this era of media and migration, can architecture still ignite a collective imagination?” That was the question Cynthia Davidson asked herself when More

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“Is architecture really as guileless as Aravena’s Biennale suggests?”

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016: Alejandro Aravena’s Reporting from the Front-themed Venice Biennale is filled with good intentions, but can architects ever really be honest about architecture, asks Mimi Zeiger. Alejandro Aravena opens his Reporting from the Front with a backhand lob. “ARCHITECTURE IS” greets Biennale visitors entering the Arsenale, the first of his exhibition’s two main More

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“Railroad stations are our contemporary architecture of democracy”

Opinion: the golden age of airports is over, says Aaron Betsky. Railways have trumped air travel with better-designed terminals that are the epitome of contemporary democracy. We are living in a new Terminal Age. Not since trunk lines erected their ornate termini in European cities in the third quarter of the 19th century have we More

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“Australia’s swimming pools exemplify the balancing act of architecture”

Opinion: the Australian pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale will make a convincing argument for the swimming pool as the Antipodean answer to the piazza – a public space that deserves protection, says Dan Hill. The Australian pavilion for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale is focused not simply on buildings, thankfully, but on what is almost More

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“Calatrava’s transit hub feels utterly scrubbed of memory and dislocated from New York”

Opinion: Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center transit hub may be Instagram-friendly, but it is part of a troubling trend for public spending on spaces that aren’t really public at all, says Alan G Brake. On a recent Sunday afternoon children sprawled on the gleaming white marble floor beneath the oculus in Santiago Calatrava’s new transit More

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“Why not move some of Britain’s political power northwards?”

Opinion: moving the UK’s Houses of Parliament to Bristol is not that strange an idea, says Owen Hatherley, but why not go one step further and create a new capital city in Milton Keynes or the Pennines? In Stratford, east London, in the shadow of the Olympic Village, the Olympic Park and Britain’s biggest shopping mall, is something called the Stratford More

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“Creative office space is the dominant aesthetic of our time”

Opinion: the conversion of old industrial buildings into “creative office space” has proven so successful in LA, even galleries like Hauser Wirth & Schimmel are getting in on the act, says Mimi Zeiger. “If all possible old building stock in Los Angeles was converted to creative office space, that still wouldn’t meet the demand for More

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“Zaha was always a difficult person to deal with”

Opinion: Zaha Hadid, who died unexpectedly this week, deserves to be recognised as one of architecture’s greats. But she was also difficult, even when you were on her side, remembers Amanda Baillieu. When Zaha Hadid walked off the Today programme during a calamitous interview with Sarah Montague I thought, good for her. But it was More

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“Disparity in the values assigned to architecture and landscape architecture continues”

Opinion: a proposal to surround New York’s Central Park with a giant “sidescraper” epitomises architects’ disregard for designed landscapes, says president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Charles A Birnbaum. What does it say about the architecture profession that a design concept that would destroy New York’s Central Park as we know it has gotten publicity More

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3 books that will change your life

While I was advising you how you can clean out your closet fast with one simple trick, I couldn’t get the idea of writing about books that changed my life. What sparked that idea is this urge to share everything that I learned through my journey of getting to know my real self, downsizing my […]

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“Let’s hear it for temporary architecture”

Opinion: temporary architecture is having a “moment” in Europe, and it has some serious lessons to offer architects that are still obsessed with permanence, says Aaron Betsky. Architecture is going pop. It is finally sloughing off its ridiculous obsession with eternity, and learning to live in and for the moment. Pop-up architecture, temporary structures, and More

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“The architectural community cannot remain apathetic to Calais’ Jungle and the refugee crisis”

Opinion: last week, local authorities in Calais began destroying sections of the Jungle – the sprawling refugee and migrant camp that has become a symbol of Europe’s immigration crisis. It’s time that architects stepped in to help provide a solution that actually works, says architect Jeannie S Lee, who visited the camp with her London More

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“New York should give Breuer’s building lasting protection”

Opinion: the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s temporary move in to the Whitney’s old unprotected Breuer building is the result of behind-the-scenes machinations of a major donor. Thank goodness, says Alan G Brake. It might be surprising that one of New York City’s best examples of publicly accessible modern architecture could be passed from More

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“What to do with old houses?”

Opinion: LACMA’s newly inherited Sheats-Goldstein House could place classic mid-century houses at the heart of Los Angeles’ cultural revival, says Mimi Zeiger. Last month, LACMA announced that James Goldstein — an eccentric personage familiar courtside at Lakers games — had promised his iconic John Lautner–designed home to the museum. The gift, which includes $17 million More

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