The Fairy Tales competition invites architects, designers, writers, artists & the wider public to tell their own fairy tales through the medium of architecture. The competition broke record in 2014 with over 300 entries from 50 different countries, only to be crushed by this year 1200 entries from 65 countries. The only criticism it had is the minimal monetary prizes (500-1500$).
Aileen Sage and Michelle Tabet’s ‘The Pool’ has been announced as the winning proposal for Australia’s Exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The project explores different pool archetypes in Australia and their connections with the Australian cultural, democratic & social identity. The jury praised the project for its ‘incisive interest in the connections between landscape, culture and architecture as observed through the frame of a singular architectural and landscape typology’.
Read their interview with Australian Design Review here.
3. The technology of non-sticking
One could argue that the most primitive and fundamental function of building is keeping the rain out. Today scientists and designers have developed more tools to keep away more types of liquid. Super hydrophobic materials have been applied to many places, such as Australian-made stain-proof t-shirt, wall paint that splash back urine, self-cleaning toilet & shoes, and even non-stick sex toys made from recycled silicone . Larger applications include tougher submarine and frost-proof planes. While the above applications are mostly coating-based and will eventually wear off, Chunlei Guo and the team at the University of Rochester invented a new type of metal with embedded hydrophobic quality that is long lasting, self-cleaning with bouncing direction fully controlled. This is especially useful for better efficiency in rainwater collection in developing countries and the technology even got Bill and Melinda Gates attentions. The biggest setback for new technologies like these is obviously time and cost. The hydrophobic paint is said to cost around 700$ to spray a six-square meter area, which is fairly steep even if you factor in the drop in maintenance cost. Guo’s metal takes one hour to laser-pattern only a 2.5cm by 2.5cm sample of metal. However, scientist around the world has been studied and experimenting on one application that might offset all drawbacks. Right now, burning coal or fossil fuels to create steam that rotates a turbine is the way most energy is generated. The steam then needs to be condensed back into a liquid state for the cycle to continue. Applying waterproof surfaces could speed up the process, saving time and money. And because steam condensation accounts for 85% of all electricity-generating plants and about half of all desalination plants globally, that could turn out to be a big save for all of us.
The latest issue of the Berlin-based online magazine Uncube looks at the life and legacy of 2015 Pritzker Prize winner, the late great Frei Otto. Born in 1925, son to a stonemason and sculptor, Frei Otto found his interest in gliders at an early age. He spent a short time study architecture at Technical University in Berlin before became a pilot During World War II. After the war, he was prisoned bear Charters, France where he became camp architect. He finished his architectures studies in 1947 and travelled to United States in 1950 as a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation, during which time he saw the roof construction for the Raleigh Arena by Matthew Nowicki, which was said to be the source of inspiration for his future creations. His research investigates the link between architecture and the law of nature, experiments with new materials and construction systems, specifically tensile & lightweight structure. This has led to a series of incredibly influential projects, including the 1967 West German Pavillion; the 1975 Mannheim Multihalle; 1985 Diplomatic Club in Saudi Arabia; 2000 Japanese Pavillion and the famous Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany in 1970.
“His structures altered the nature of architectural form in the twentieth century and his environmentalism, intelligence and foresight have established the defining architecture mentality for the twenty-first” – Norman Foster
“Be experimental! Be radical! Be Frei!”
Project of the Week
The Multihalle, Mannheim, Germany 1975
In line with the theme of Frei Otto, this week project is a classic. Multihalle, built in the 1975 for the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Horticultural Exhibition) was incredibly pioneering & influential not only in the field of biomorphic architecture, engineering but also in the way the building was conceived and built. The system of timber gridshell allows the roof to span up to 60 metres and reach 20 metres in height without the need for complex foundations (for more technical study, read this paper written for the exhibition “Forms of German Shells” at Princeton University). To win over the suspicious public, Frei constructed 1:98.5 scaled prototype based on the inversion principle used by Antoni Gaudi, which was then protogrammetrically measured and fed into a CDC 6600 – the “computer” of its day; from which CAD drawings and digital model were produced. It was among the first examples of what we today know as 3D printing and scanning. After 40 years, the building still stands the test of time, miraculously for something that was meant to be temporary.