A living fossil of life in Shanghai
They were basically city blocks that functioned as gated communities, with guards manning the front entrance. The whole essence of old Shanghai was that life was lived horizontally — all the activity happened at street level...Commissioned mostly by Western developers, the first shikumen appeared in the 1870s...local contractors who built them drew upon the interior floor plans of traditional Chinese courtyard homes and local decorative motifs.
Taras Grescoe pens a paean to shikumen, alleyway complexes entered through a stone-framed kumen (gateway), which at one point housed approximately 80 percent of the population of Shanghai. While fewer authentic examples remain, the city has in recent years begun redeveloping, "fake vintage"... View full entry
Win “Dingbat 2.0”, a critical study of L.A.'s most ubiquitous vernacular typology
Dingbat 2.0: The Iconic Los Angeles Apartment as Projection of a Metropolis is the first full-length critical study of the dingbat apartment, the stucco-clad boxy “building code creature” that is the Southland's most ubiquitous and mundane vernacular typology. Co-edited by Radical Craft... View full entry
Vernacular architectural photographer John Margolies has died
Mr. Margolies, who died on May 26, at 76, was considered the country’s foremost photographer of vernacular architecture — the coffee shops shaped like coffeepots; the gas station shaped like a teapot (the Teapot Dome Service Station in Zillah, Wash.); and the motels shaped like all manner of things, from wigwams to zeppelins to railroad cars — that once stood as proud totems along America’s blue highways.
— The New York Times
In memoriam, here are a few of Margolies' idiosyncratic finds, many of which were compiled into the 2010 book "John Margolies: Roadside America":Other architectural photographers who are still doing their signature thing:Photographer captures the beauty of Beirut's architectureBêka &... View full entry
Editor's Picks #442
ICYMI Will Galloway penned a reflection on a workshop he instigated at Keio University, with members of Assemble, Paloma Strelitz and James Binning (pre Turner Prize). The studio ended with students building a very rough and very temporary Onsen. The three later discussed, the history of... View full entry
As LA densifies, its iconic roadside restaurants disappear
The hamburger stand is part of southern California’s rich tradition of roadside architecture. These buildings are typically 100 square-foot boxes, with an outdoor window to order and pick up food. Next to the structures are rudimentary dining areas, often consisting of no more than a plastic tarp and a few fold-up chairs and tables [...]
The hipsterfication of LA’s hamburger stands may... prove the final chapter in the saga of these half-century-old structures.
— The Guardian
Related:Regarding the remarkable range of prefab, self-built, movable, and vernacular dwellingsL.A. City Council Officially Votes Norms Restaurant as "Historic and Cultural Landmark"Moments in Fast Food Urbanism: First Taco Bell may be demolishedGoogie: Architecture of the Space Age View full entry
Providing egalitarian habitat for humanity
more of them were built in the former Czechoslovakia — in a boom that stretched from 1959 to 1995 — than any place else on what was once Soviet earth. Today, about a third of all Czechs and Slovaks, from all income brackets, still call their panelaks home
Lisa Schwarzbaum traveled to Bratislava to explore its ubiquitous panelaks (aka "panel house"), Soviet era concrete high-rise housing units. The city is also the home of monuments to new capitalism, such as the Aupark shopping center and corporate complexes like Digital Park.On a related... View full entry
Regarding the remarkable range of prefab, self-built, movable, and vernacular dwellings
Prefab housing plays a big role in recreational dwelling, aside from permanent and work-nomadic forms. This is well illustrated by the thriving KOA (Kampgrounds of America) site I pass on the way into town. KOA, founded in 1962, has 500 sites around US — an alternate housing archipelago experienced by millions of vacationing Americans, and the world’s largest private campsite chain.
Tim McCormick (Founder at Houslets a modular, redeployable, user-buildable, live/work-spaces project), takes readers on a prefab housing tour of Willits, CA. h/t @AlJavieera View full entry
Admire the diversity of African vernacular architecture in this growing online database
[Jon] Sojkowski worries that these building types, made with materials that are abundant in Africa and sustainable, will soon be lost to history because of a misconception that they are inefficient, outdated and only used by the poor. At one point during his research, he met a man who told him he wanted a Western-style metal roof. 'I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because then I would be somebody,' Sojkowski recalls.
Since architect Jon Sojkowski launched his African vernacular architecture database last year, he has amassed a broad range of photos showcasing the traditional building techniques and materials from 48 countries. Photo submissions are also welcome.You can also check out video clips from... View full entry
Kengo Kuma: "Architecture can initiate communication among people."
Tokyo is known for its mix of modern and traditional architecture, but for long-term residents it is easy to feel like the concrete is winning out. [...]
The buildings done by acclaimed Tokyo-based architect Kengo Kuma are different. [...]
Kuma’s campaign to bring Japanese-ness back to architecture has had fascinating results.
Editor's Picks #379
The latest Show Case: featured a holiday home modeled after the Dutch vernacular ‘schapenboeten’, designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects. Donna Sink wondered "what makes fishing nets a good cladding material? Isn't the purpose of a net pretty much exactly the opposite of the purpose of a... View full entry
Editor's Picks #313
SDR complained "The Saratoga Community Center is ‘traditional’ ? Really ? Brickwork with masonry or ceramic trim is no longer a viable architectural material ? What'll be declared dead, next -- the rectangle ?...I don't defend the example above as a work of architecture. I know nothing about it. But it's a surprising contender for 'traditional'--- isn't it ?)".
NewsChristopher Gray reviewed John Hill’s book A Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture, reflected on the current revival of traditional architecture in the United States, and asked Mr. Hill if he has "a bias against the neo-traditional movement?”. SDR complained "The... View full entry
Editor's Picks #308
Archinect published work from Beyond Prototype, an advanced digital fabrication seminar developed at Columbia University...Nicholas Cecchi was impressed but also offered some criticism "This is amazing student work...However, I would like architecture schools to stop pushing students to contextualize this kind of research-based exploration. Showing these as enclosures (or the one as a gondola) only undermines the amazing generative capacity of this kind of design"
For the latest edition of the Student Works feature, Archinect published work from Beyond Prototype, an advanced digital fabrication seminar developed at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation by Jason Ivaliotis and Nicholas Kothari. In the course "Students... View full entry
Ukraine’s Wooden Churches and Folk architecture(s)
The language was impossible to understand, but the building itself communicated in a clear vernacular: thick columns, coarsely hewn and partly painted white, were topped with gold-haloed icons and lovely scarves that must have been embroidered by hand. The ceiling in the back was only an arm’s breadth above my head...
— The New York Times
Evan Rail travels to the Carpathian foothills near Zakarpattia, the western region of Ukraine. The vernacular folk architecture includes a number of unusual wooden churches dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. After years of neglect, the buildings are in danger of disappearing and... View full entry