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.
If you like French decorative arts you should make your way this summer to the Louvre’s newly restored and reinstalled 18th century Decorative Arts Galleries. The collection is housed in 35 galleries spanning 23,000 square feet. Over 2,000 design pieces “in object-focused galleries and period-room settings” are on display.
Mikou Design Studio has unveiled the design for the Africanews headquarters in Brazzaville, Congo. Mikou proposed a large expressive tower on stilts during a competition for the site. The tower mass floats on massive pillars over a two-story podium with an interstitial patio between the pieces, topping out at 174 feet over the city.
In collaboration with Studio Daniel Libeskind and Armani/Casa, developer Century Properties has begun construction on the Century Spire tower in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. The tower will stand with Trump Tower, the Gramercy Residences, and the Knightsbridge Residences among others to complete the project known as Century City.
Speaking of controversy, Zaha Hadid can’t catch a break! Since her stadium design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled, complaints have arisen about the scale and height of the project. Then two of Japan’s biggest architects—Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki—signed on to a petition calling for a revised design. As of press time more than 26,500 people have signed on to protest the design. Is someone’s star beginning to dim?