The upcoming 2014 Venice architecture biennale, Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014, will question the notion of national identity in architecture and investigate the degree to which national styles have been “sacrificed to modernity.” To the credit of the Venice curators, they asked national pavilions to investigate ways in which this “seemingly universal architectural language… in significant encounters between cultures… can find hidden ways of remaining ‘national?’” Clearly the internationalization—and some would say flattening—of culture is one of the more complicated forces in contemporary culture.
The BMW Guggenheim Lab is taking its show on the road one more time, after jaunts in Manhattan’s East Village and Berlin, Germany. This time to Mumbai, India, where starting in December, an international group of experts and innovators will lead six weeks of free programs, public discourse, and experiments exploring a range of topics related to contemporary urban life. Mumbai, a city of 20.5 million people—the fourth most populous city in the world—represents a unique challenge for the Mumbai Lab Team, who have created a series of projects, studies, and design proposals that respond to issues including transportation, infrastructure, governance, and housing. To get a sense of the types of discourse that will be going on, check out 100 Urban Trends, a glossary of 100 of the most talked about trends in urban thinking, compiled during the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s trip to Berlin in June.
A 36-column bamboo structure, designed by Tokyo-based Atelier Bow-Wow and inspired by a traditional Indian Mandapa—a pillared outdoor hall for events—will serve as a mobile pavilion and hub for the happenings. Atelier Bow-Wow designed all three BWM Guggemheim Lab pavilions, part of a collaboration between the museum and the car company. The pavilion will be built at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum and will open on December 9, 2012. Pop-up sites are also planned throughout the city.
On March 31, the Wright auction house gingerly dipped into controversy with its sale of 23 lots of office furniture from Chandigarh even as the Indian government launched a belated international campaign to recover the pieces designed by Pierre Jeanneret for the masterwork by cousin Corbusier.
Like its neighbor to the northeast, India is urbanizing at break-neck speed. Much of the resulting development takes the shape of monotonous towers and slabs designed to house the maximum number people as quickly as possible. The innovative Dutch firm MVRDV’s project Amanora Apartment City punches through, twists, and slices off pieces of a monolithic superstructure, to create a new park-side landmark within a largely undifferentiated urban field.
Keeping Cooper. There’s a fight brewing over the demolition of the 186-year-old 35 Cooper Square. A demolition permit had been issued and subsequent stop work orders and candlelight vigils. The small federal style structure was once home to descendants of Peter Stuyvesant and beatnik Diane DiPrima. Keep tabs on the little building at EV Grieve and the Bowery Alliance (And in other Cooper Square preservation news, what’s going to happen to the Astor Place mosaics under the planned pedestrian plaza upgrades?)
Yesterday AN learned, via ArchNewsNow, that Prince Charles is planning a new town in India that draws its inspiration from the slums and informal settlements of Calcutta and Bangalore. While the Prince has long been a bete noire for modernists, his interest in vernacular, impromptu settlements is in line with modern architects like the members of Team 10 and Bernard Rudofsky.
The Prince is no stranger to town building, having created a simulacrum of a medieval village at Poundbury. In India, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment plans to build 3000 homes–for an estimated 15,000 low income residents–interwoven with schools and small shops.
“We have a great deal to learn about how complex systems can self-organize to create a harmonious whole,” the Prince said in a statement, according to the Daily Mail. The Prince, widely admired for his work on sustainable agriculture, plans to include green features like rainwater collectors and natural ventilation.
The past ten years have seen an impressive amount of economic growth and infrastructural development in India, and the nation is becoming more and more a well established market for American architectural talent. This trend doesn’t seem to be changing as we embark on a new decade. One sign of that is the September 2009 opening of an office in Mumbai by structural engineering firm Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA). Founded in 1923 in New York City, LERA has contributed its services to many of the city’s iconic structures (such as the World Trade Center) and has designed buildings all around the world, but this will be its first foreign office. A release by the firm cited a “growing workload” and the need to “facilitate client relations” as key reasons for the opening. LERA will join a number of other American architecture firms that have recently opened branches in the subcontinent, including HOK and Perkins Eastman. See some of the projects LERA has worked on after the jump.