Nearly a month has passed now since the more than 800 people from all of the globe who attended this year’s New Cities Summit in Dallas, Texas, packed up their bags, and returned home. Each is now equipped—if the Summit proved its purpose—with a slew of practical ideas on how to positively transform the urban environment, or at least a more robust list of contacts in the fields of government, business, and urban design. For those of you who missed it, the New Cities Foundation has just released an ebook recapitulating what was discussed in its many keynote speeches, workshops, and panel discussions. The foundation has also produced a four-minute highlights movie (embedded below), which captures some of the enthusiastic spirit of this international gathering of urban thinkers and doers, which is now in its third year.
French architecture firm Chartier-Corbasson has hopped on the green-building train with their recently unveiled green skyscraper concept. Renderings of the Organic London Skyscraper show a towering, pyramid-shaped building comprised of panels made from recycled plastic material. But this tower takes a radical twist—it would be built from the trash of its inhabitants and grow over time.
Considering how much trash Baltimore’s solar-powered Trash Interceptor scoops out of the city’s harbor—50,000 pounds a day!—these floating islands made from found plastic waste might just stand a chance. With the support of the Creative Industries Firm NL, WHIM Architecture is developing a prototype of their project, the recycled island, built primarily from recycled plastic waste gathered from the North Pacific gyre and the North Sea.
There is an ongoing architectural quest to find new and innovative sustainable materials. Some products could appear in the next science fiction film, such as the fungus-grown packaging material by Ecovative. Other materials have been with us for a long time, under guise of other uses. Some products—like the lowly shipping container—have served one function for so long they beg to be reinvented.
Writing mattered to the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. When he became a naturalized French citizen in 1930, Le Corbusier called himself neither a painter nor an architect, but an homme de lettres (a man of letters): he was an inveterate writer. His first book was a study of German decorative arts published when he was twenty-five; his last, sometimes described as a final testament, was completed only a month before his death. In between there are approximately fifty books (depending on how you define “book”), as well as letters, lectures, and handwritten journals as thick as books. Words were the stuff of architecture, not just how he participated in and influenced the debates of his time; they were essential to the task of making a new architecture.
On June 26, London’s Serpentine Gallery opened its 14th annual Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens. Designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, the pavilion is made up of an organically formed semi-transparent fiberglass shell structure perched atop giant boulders sourced from a local quarry. Over the next four months, visitors will be encouraged to interact with the 1,700-square-foot installation, which is occupied by a cafe and multi-purpose event space.
Despite coming in 3rd place in a design competition for a new Iraqi parliament center, Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid signed a deal last month with the Iraqi embassy to design a new parliament complex in Baghdad. According to Building Design, London firm Assemblage has confirmed they received the prize money of $250,000 for coming in first place, but will lose out on the billion dollar commission. Hadid was recently in Iraq to officially sign a contract for the project.