This story appears to have it all: architecture, LEGOs, Star Wars, and controversy. The Telegraph reports that the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria (TCCA) has taken offense at LEGO’s latest miniature plastic toy, a replica of Jabba the Hutt’s Palace from the Star Wars trilogy. While some are calling the absurdity of the move a spoof, the group alleges the model is based on the architecture of Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia and the Jami al-Kabir Mosque in Beirut, and fills the two revered symbols of the Islamic world with armed criminals. Jabba the Hutt is the slug-like alien and crime boss who maintained a mixed-relationship with smuggler-turned-hero Han Solo, at one point cryogenically freezing Solo.
According to the Telegraph, the TCCA said on its website (in German), “It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.” It has called on LEGO to apologize for the creating negative views of their culture and is considering legal action. A spokesperson for LEGO denies any link between Jabba’s Palace and the Hagia Sofia.
It’s been over three decades since the 3-D printer was invented, and to be sure, the technology has come a long way. Now, Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars is putting the technology to the ultimate test by proposing to print an enormous Möbius strip house with over 10,700 square foot of house. The Landscape House, as Ruijssenaars named it, will be a two-story structure replicating the natural form of a figure eight by using “one surface folded in an endless Möbius band” he says on his website, intending for the building to effortlessly fit into the natural world.
Los Angeles-based Synthesis Design & Architecture (SDA) in association with Shenzhen General Institute of Architectural Design and Research have won an invited competition to design the 1.9 million-square-foot, mixed-use Shanghai Wuzhou International Plaza in Shanghai.
Their slick “Urban Canyon” concept summons images of a magnificent gorge cutting through the city with its two nested cliff-like structures that have been carved from the landscape by staggered, pebble-looking buildings. The facades’ and roofs’ grooved titanium-zinc cladding adds to the metaphor while mimicking the energy and vibrancy of the city.
Divided into two blocks, the northern area houses luxury retail shops and developer Hong Kong Wuzhou International Group’s corporate offices. The southern section is a retail, lifestyle and entertainment complex anchored by two office towers. Sky bridges connect the buildings and outside, plazas, landscaping, seating areas, and dynamic lighting are integrated. Practical details are still being finalized.
ARZU STUDIO HOPE and live/work furniture company Coalesse have teamed up with six leading architects to design a series of bold rugs and also provide economic opportunities for Afghan women. Chicago-based ARZU first approached Stanley Tigerman and Margaret McCurry to design a collection of contemporary rugs, the proceeds of which support hundreds of rural women and their families through economic activity, and educational and health services. Rug weaving, which takes place in private homes, is one of the few industries where women can work safely.
Spotted on a Chinese Twitter account and now making its way around various online social networks, behold Zaha Hadid as an up-and-coming young architect working at OMA and her boss, with a full head of hair, Rem Koolhaas likely taken sometime in the 1970s. Hadid split from OMA in 1979 to start her own firm. As an added bonus, check out another photo of Zaha Hadid as a child in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome after the jump.
Update! A reader sent in proof that the above photo, of unknown Chinese provenance, is a forgery. While showing both Zaha and Rem, the two were stitched together digitally. Take a look at the Zaha Hadid above photographed solo after the jump.
The architecture scene in Italy operates around groups and individuals tied to various cities and regions. In the late 1960s Florence was the liveliest and most compelling venue for architecture with groups like Superstudio, Archizoom, UFO all coalescing around the city’s university. But Venice, with its IAUV academy and stellar faculty that included Manfredo Tafuri and Aldo Rossi, was also a center until a few year ago. Milan too with its dynamic post war economy and lively design tradition was and is still a place for creation of new architectural ideas. Rome on the on the other hand, though it was the home of Bruno Zevi and Paolo Portoghesi and their lively publication programs, was never a place one thought of as central to the debate on the future of architecture.
From Alvar Aalto to Zaha Hadid, architect Andrea Stinga and visual artist Frederico Gonzalez have rounded up 26 of the world’s most famous architects and an example of their work for their new animation, “ABC of Architects.” Each building pops into view, dancing to the video’s catchy tune. A few of our favorites include Louis Kahn’s National Parliament of Bangladesh, Oscar Niemeyer’s National Congress of Brazil in Brasília, and Joseph Maria Olbrich’s Secession Building in Vienna. Take a look above!
Yale University is under fire from its own faculty for a new collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS). Pelli Clarke Pelli is designing the campus of what will be a four-year liberal arts college based in Singapore. A recent Reuters article reported that the project has “stirred sharp criticism from faculty and human-rights advocates who say it is impossible to build an elite college dedicated to free inquiry in an authoritarian nation with heavy restrictions on public speech and assembly.”
Degrees issued by the Singapore-based college, called Yale-NUS, won’t be Yale degrees and technically it’s not considered a Yale branch campus. Yet is Yale guilty of selling out its values—the school’s motto is lux et veritas, “light and truth”—to extend its brand? As Reuters reported, “Christopher Miller, a professor of French and African American studies, has dubbed the venture ‘Frankenyale.’” The faculty began to voice their objections last spring, but may have been too slow on the draw—the new campus is well under construction and set to open this summer.
Rem Koolhaas has been named director of the 2014 Venice Biennale, the 14th edition of the architecture exhibition. Koolhaas, a leading thinker and persistent provocateur in the discipline, succeeds David Chipperfield. “The Architecture Exhibitions of the Biennale have gradually grown in importance internationally,” said Biennale President Paolo Baratta in a statement. “Rem Koolhaas, one of the most significant personalities among the architects of our time—who has based all his work on intense research, now renowned celebrity—has accepted to engage himself in yet another research and, why not, rethinking.”
Chipperfield’s exhibition, called Common Ground, which sought to identify continuities across cultures, time periods, and architectural approaches, divided critics. Koolhaas will take a different approach: “We want to take a fresh look at the fundamental elements of architecture—used by any architect, anywhere, anytime—to see if we can discover something new about architecture.”
In 2010, AN wrote about an identity theft scandal involving some high profile British architects and Chinese impostors leaving some observers at the time to wonder if starchitects like Norman Foster or Zaha Hadid might be next. It now appears the archi-pirates have indeed set their eyes on Hadid’s curvaceous designs, setting of a construction race to see whether the copy-cat can outbuild the original and an international debate about intellectual property. Spiegel reported that Hadid’s Wangjing SOHO tower complex, proposed in 2011 for Beijing and now under construction, has been copied and rebranded as the Meiquan 22nd Century in Chongqing. When placed side by side (above), it’s tough not to see the distinct resemblance.
Check your rearview mirrors, Audi. The Japan-based luxury car company Lexus recently announced the launch of a new design award that calls for proposals on the theme of “Motion”: ”Our daily lives are continuously filled with motion. The motion of things, the motion of people. Moving people’s hearts. Shifting consciousness…” You get the idea. And it’s one that may ring a bell—the theme of this year’s Audi Urban Design Award was “Mobility.”
In an intriguing twist, architect Junya Ishigami of Tokyo, one of the 2012 Audi award finalists who dropped out of that competition before the October judging, has now reappeared as a “mentor” to the Lexus award. There’s the requisite big-name panel of judges (Antonelli, Ito, and more), and a five million yen (about $60,000) prize for each of ten winners. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Audi.
Alex Moulton, 92, died on December 9th at his home in Bath, England. His New York Times obituary on December 20th didn’t mention that he designed an object loved by the entire architecture profession. Moulton an automotive engineer and entrepreneur designed, built, and manufactured the Moulton foldable, collapsable mini bicycle. The bicycle was made famous-at least to architect’s by Reyner Banham who commuted daily on his Moulton F-frame and famously used a photographed on his mini for his books dust jacket.