From the passing of some of our beloved iconic architects, to a shift in our priorities towards sustainable architecture, 2019 has been an eventful year. This year has been marked by the completion of multiple milestone structures, technological innovation, and many front leaps in the field of Architecture and Design.
Here are some of the most memorable events in architecture in the past year.
1. THE PEOPLE’S NOTRE-DAME DESIGN COMPETITION- (JUNE)
Fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral was one of the biggest architectural stories of 2019. The fire completely destroyed the famous landmarks’ iconic spire that collapsed hours after the fire was initially noticed. In response to the devastating fire, the French President Emmanuel Macron announced to the public that the historic building could be restored. On April 17, France announced their plans to host a competition to design a replacement spire for the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
In the people’s Notre-Dame design competition by GoArchitect, Zeyu Cai and Sibei Li’s proposal won by achieving the maximum number of votes among the 226 entries from 56 countries. The competition aimed to create a new vision for the future of the iconic cathedral after the Notre Dame fire in April this year. Called Paris Heartbeat, the winning design creates a literal heartbeat for the city.
As the brief stated, “We believe the 2019 fire will mark a new era for Notre Dame.” The design was further explained that the new spire is interpreted into poly mirrors, gently reflecting the context together with the mirror roof. Every moment the building will have a new look, matching the changing urban environment. In addition, a time capsule, designed to be open every half century, is floating at the top of the spire. The magnetic levitation installation is made to keep the memory of the past and reserve space for future story.
2. THE WORLD’S FIRST 3D PRINTED COMMUNITY HOUSES (DECEMBER)
Mexico has started to find a better, faster and easier solution for global homelessness by starting in its local context. A nonprofit organization, offering solutions to end global homelessness has announced that the world’s first 3-D printed community has started to be built and a few set of homes have been revealed.
These 500 square feet homes were each 3-D printed in around 24 hours of print time across several days by ICON, a construction technologies company. These homes will be granted to local families living in poverty and unsafe shelter. The families who will live in this community have been preselected and will move in upon community completion. Families are selected based on need; in this community, the median family income per month is $76.50, some of the lowest-income families in Mexico as a whole. When surveyed, 74% of families stated they do not feel safe in their current living conditions and that this greatly affects their quality of life.
3. ZAHA HADID ARCHITECTS COMPLETES LIZA SOHO SKYSCRAPER WITH WORLD’S TALLEST ATRIUM 2019 (NOVEMBER)
Leeza SOHO tower in Beijing, completed by Zaha Hadid Architects, features the world’s tallest atrium at the core of the building. The 172,800-square-metre tower has been designed to respond to demand from small and medium-sized businesses in Beijing for flexible and efficient office space. Its key element, the atrium, acts as a public square, linking all the spaces within the tower and providing multiple views due to its twisting form. The tower’s atrium, described as the world’s tallest atrium, reaches at 194.15m.
Straddling this tunnel, the tower’s design divides its volume into two halves enclosed by a single facade shell. The emerging space between these two halves extends the full height of the tower; the atrium of the tower rotates through the building as the tower rises to realign the upper floors with Lize road to the north. The tower has been designed to achieve LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council, ZHA implemented advanced 3D BIM energy management system that monitors real-time environmental control and energy efficiency.
4. “I AM AN ARCHITECT” MOVEMENT (DECEMBER)
A movement initiated by Rethinking the Future, which aims to address the problems that Architects face in their lives. It was born out of the idea that the Architecture community needs to unite for once and stand up against issues like misusing the title of an Architect, lack of awareness about the role of an Architect, issues of free and unpaid internships, amongst multiple others. RTF acts as a platform for architects to unite and speak their minds, encouraging and promoting excellence in architecture on a global scale.
5. NEW DELHI CAPITOL COMPLEX REDESIGN (SEPTEMBER)
Government of India’s decision to revamp the Capitol Complex of New Delhi has become a subject of discussion in India. The Capitol Complex at New Delhi originally designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker is an example of a revived imperial architecture breathing an air of Indianness. About the style of architecture to be adopted for New Delhi, Lord Charles Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India, felt that pure Eastern and pure Western architecture would be quite out of place. He emphasized the need to blend both styles. He was confident of the popularity of the new imperial architecture of Delhi.
The government has now selected HCP Design, planning and management Pvt. Ltd. Ahmedabad, headed by Bimal Patel for the redesign. All the three parts of the project including the Central Vista, Parliament and the Rajpath area will be designed by them. The plan involves having a new Parliament by India’s 75th Independence Day in 2022. The Centre will also change the 2021 Delhi Master Plan to enable the planned revamp that would be executed without felling any trees.
The selected architects though have a proven record of many success stories yet they have a heavy task ahead due to the historical importance and heritage status of the complex. The newly appointed architects will have to keep in mind the design approach of their predecessors as the whole of India will be judging the new design in continuity with the Britishers’ school of thought.
6. ARCHITECTS FOCUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
A group of 17 Stirling prize-winning studios, including Zaha Hadid Architects, David Chipperfield Architects and Foster + Partners, declared a climate and biodiversity emergency. In an open letter, stating the need for a shift in behavior to pay attention to the increasing global warming. An Architect’s Climate Action Network was formed to bring together architects, including some from Studio Bark who designed easy-to-build modular building blocks for the Extinction Rebellion protests. At the inaugural Architecture of Emergency summit, experts discussed the problem, with some calling for the industry to ditch concrete-hungry designs in favour of timber.
Foster + Partners pledged to make all its own office buildings carbon neutral by 2030, and Snøhetta vowed to only design carbon negative buildings within the next 20 years.
7. RIBA’S NEW SUSTAINABILITY GUIDE
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released a new sustainability guide to help RIBA members and the wider architecture sector embed sustainable outcomes into practice. Named Sustainable Outcomes Guide, the 52-page guide aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and outlines eight clear, measurable goals that practices can aim for on projects of all scales, underpinned by specific design principles to achieve them. It has been created to support the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, an initiative to encourage RIBA Chartered Practices to achieve net zero whole life carbon for all new and retrofitted buildings by 2030.
8. WORLD’S FIRST 360-DEGREE INFINITY POOL PROPOSED FOR LONDON SKYLINE (JUNE)
Compass Pools has unveiled a new concept for the world’s first 360-degree infinity pool. Designed for a skyscraper rooftop in London, the 600,000-liter pool would offer views of the city’s skyline from all sides. Called Infinity London, the project would be made from cast acrylic and feature transparent sides and floors, allowing visitors to see swimmers in the pool above them.
As for the design of the pool itself, there will be no stairs on the outside of the pool. Solution for the access for the swimmers to the pool is based on the door of a submarine, coupled with a rotating spiral staircase which rises from the pool floor when someone wants to get in or out.
The project would rise above a five-star hotel and include a built-in anemometer to monitor wind speed. In turn, this would be linked to a computer-controlled building management system to regulate the pool and ensure water doesn’t spill onto the streets below. To further control the pool’s temperature, the water will be heated using waste energy from the building’s air conditioning system.
9. I.M.PEI (1917-2019)
I.M. Pei, a Chinese-born American Architect died on 16th of May, 2019 at the age of 106.
Born in China, grew up in Hong Kong and Shanghai later moving to Pennsylvania and Cambridge to study Architecture. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1940, he got an opportunity to work with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Pei started his own practice in 1955, known as I.M. Pei & Associates. Later changing it’s name to Pei & Partners in 1966 and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in 1989.
A Pritzker-prize winning Architect, known for his bold modernist style, and crisp geometric designs with elegance and technology. As a student of Le Corbusier and modernist architecture, I.M. Pei took the core belief of modernism that form follows function, and added his own interpretation. Pei believed that form follows intention.
His most significant works include Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Kennedy Library in Boston, the glass and steel pyramid Musée du Louvre in Paris. Hong Kong’s Bank of China Tower, China’s Suzhou Museum, Japan’s Miho Museum and America’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are among his other celebrated projects.
In 1990, he retired from his full time practice to reduce his workload in following years.
Pei also received multiple awards like, the AIA Gold Medal in 1979, the Pritzker Prize in 1983, the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989, and RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 2010.
10. OLSON KUDIG ARCHITECTS UNVEIL RECOMPOSE FACILITY TO DECOMPOSE HUMAN BODIES IN SEATTLE
Set to open in 2021, the Recompose Seattle becomes the first US state to legalize human composting in 2019. An international firm, Olson Kudig Architects have revealed the plans of the after death facility in Seattle where bodies will be decomposed. The facility will offer a service known as ‘natural organic reduction’ which will convert human remains into clean and usable soil within 30 days. With a modular system at the core of conception, the project comprises of 75 vessels. The core area also acts as a space for rituals and public gathering.
Being an alternative to traditional techniques, this method uses one-eighth of the energy of cremation, therefore, saving over one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person.