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Across the AR: July 2019 round-up


From birthday celebrations to the sad passing of several architects, this month we have mined our archive to mark July moments – plus the full set of AR House awards shortlisted projects have been published in more depth online, reviewed by a cohort of New Architecture Writers

With such a long and rich history it is safe to say that – for most occasions spanning the architectural world – the AR has something relevant or prescient to share from its archive.

The great César Pelli died aged 92 on 19th July and we dug out a study on his Winter Gardens (also sadly no longer standing). Originally published in the AR in March 1981, the project – with Gruen Associates – sought to revive the ailing economy of the American city of Niagara Falls, as opposed to the Canadian Niagara Falls which benefits from better views of the falls and therefore more tourist business. Read about the interesting botanic gardens cum shopping mall here – reviewed by a young Deyan Sudjic, now Design Museum director.

The birthday celebrations started with Richard Rogers turning 86 on 23rd July. We remembered Owen Hatherley’s Reputations piece on Rogers from August 2014 which you can read here. The AR has been commissioning original illustrated ‘portraits’ of the architects we feature in Reputations for nearly ten years and Rogers was no exception; Neal Fox conjured a suitable Pomidou-portrait to accompany Owen’s words.

1388654 rogerswebrep (1)

1388654 rogerswebrep (1)

Source: Neal Fox

The double summer issue of the AR is our annual celebration of the house and our July/August edition married the AR House awards with the theme of social housing to draw interesting through lines from private, often luxury, dwelling to more civil matters and residences. Apt then, that an architect renowned for his work on small domestic buildings should celebrate his birthday in July and afford us an opportunity to look back through the AR archive. To mark the 83rd birthday of arguably Australia’s greatest architect, Glenn Murcutt, we re-published a study of one of his Sydney houses from the July 1987 issue (which you can read here). 

Having worked predominantly on singular, single-family homes in rural locations it was interesting to revisit Piers Taylor’s 2017 appraisal of Murcutt’s biggest project to date (the Australian Islamic Centre in Melbourne) and review it in the wider context of the 2002 Pritzker-prize-winner’s career. Piers concluded: ‘We have much to thank Murcutt for. In an age of the publicity-seeking wannabe stararchitect and the image-fuelled context of contemporary architectural discourse, Murcutt and his oeuvre offer a model of dignity and consistency. If Murcutt’s work had a particular potency in a pre-internet era, it now also seems super relevant once again as we plunge headlong into global political and environmental turmoil’ – the prophesied turmoil, two years on, now in full roiling boil.

3064142 pierstaylordscf8043

3064142 pierstaylordscf8043

Source: Piers Taylor

Australian Islamic Centre by Glenn Murcutt, reviewed by Piers Taylor

The birthdays continued in late July with Santiago Calatrava celebrating only his 68th birthday. Just a few more candles on his cake than the many bridges he has designed since founding his practice in 1981. While the World Trade Centre Oculus has occupied the discussion around his work more recently, and London’s Greenwich peninsula is still very much pending, we decided to take it back to the bridges where it all began and reconsider his Salford bridge – and only completed UK project – which was printed in the AR March 1996. While he might not have featured on our pages recently, during his ascendency in the late ’80s and early ’90s Calatrava was printed in the pages of the AR almost every month – there were more than ten fulsome studies to choose from in the archive, from Lyon station to his competition entry for the completion of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.

July finished with another sad passing. Cofounder of Italian radical design collective Superstudio, Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, died on the 30th July aged 78. In the AR in March 1982 Archigram’s Peter Cook looked at the work of Superstudio, and more specifically founder Adolfo Natalini. Toraldo di Francia is mentioned several times, perhaps most interestingly described as shy in the this evocative reminiscence of the scene in the 1960s;

‘In all other creative fields, there was a tactile energy: the Tachistes spluttering out against the well-meaningness of Late Impressionism; John Cage writing-in vast silences that questioned the arcane world of Schoenberg, Webern and Berg; the spirit of ‘look-no hands’ that lay behind the poetry of Konrad Wachsmann’s structures; the zany graphics that were published in the Royal College of Art’s magazine ARK: and most forcibly: the reality of the SPACE RACE. If these things could be happening simultaneously in painting, music, engineering and the rest, if Buckminster Fuller lived, then what were we doing with neatly-dimensioned metal windows? Such a reaction, and the energy of a corporate audacity ennabled even the shyest (Greene of Archigram, Toraldo di Francia of Superstudio, Pinter of Haus-Rucker) to come out of the Expressionistic closet.’

3160024 superstudiomonumentocontinuo

3160024 superstudiomonumentocontinuo

Superstudio’s Continuous Monument

In the July/August issue we printed studies of all the winners and commended projects from our AR House awards. The shortlist was mentioned briefly. To correspond with the print issue, we have published reviews of the full shortlist online – featuring drawings and photographs, and words by a cohort of New Architecture Writers (N.A.W.).

N.A.W. is a free programme for emerging design writers, developing the journalistic skill, editorial connections and critical voice of its participants. N.A.W. focuses on black and minority ethnic emerging writers who are under-represented across design journalism and curation. It was founded in 2017 by Phineas Harper and the AR’s history editor Tom Wilkinson with the Architecture Foundation and the Architectural Review and you can read more about it here and explore the full AR House awards shortlist below.

Japan led the 2019 AR House awards with four shortlisted projects (including the overall winner), followed by Australia with three and Spain and the UK securing a pair of shortlisted projects each. Our jury was inundated with a global array of interesting and beautiful houses to choose from and we’re sure it’ll be the same again next year – discover this year’s winners here. In the meantime the AR awards programme rolls on and we are preparing for the prestigious AR Emerging Architecture awards (AREA), now entering their 21st year.

In July we announced the jury online; Níall McLaughlin, Sou Fujimoto and Anna Heringer – all previous, sometimes multiple, AREA winners who have gone on to have diverse and successful careers. Enter this year’s awards here (deadline 30th August). Winners will be published in our November issue later this year.

As this July round-up shows, pieces from our archive and awards are regularly published exclusively online. 

The AR July/August print issue on AR House + Social housing is available to buy here