“Too much is at stake to leave architecture to architects”

The emotional and economic impacts of cities are closely connected, but this is lost in a proliferation of meaningless phrases like “healthy placemaking” and “human-centric design”, says Reinier de Graaf. The built environment affects us all. It is the common opening line of every conference about architecture. Elitist in the 1970s, forgotten in the 80s, rediscovered in […]

Sexy eco, monochrome and plus-size furniture: interior design trends for 2020

Interior design will evolve, innovate, adapt and improve in 2020, says Michelle Ogundehin. Her trend report includes provocative collaborations, cork, Ukrainian design and a rejection of digital technology. The dawn of a new decade invariably gives rise to a whole host of grandiose pronouncements about new trends and cultural shifts for the next ten years, and true […]

The 2020s “will see the return of the real”, argues Aaron Betsky

As the 2020s begin, what will the next decade hold for architecture asks Aaron Betsky. Crystal balls are notoriously cloudy, tea leaves open to many interpretations, and, according to science fiction films such as Blade Runner, by now we would all be living with replicants. Future predictions are more wishful – or dreadful – scenarios, […]

“High-tech now looks very much like another post-imperial delusion”

High-tech architecture aligned with the revival of Victorian values in the 1980s, but did not end up producing the factories of a new period of British creativity, says Owen Hatherley. The Englishness of high-tech architecture was often discussed in the 1980s. Not necessarily in the 1970s, when Richard Rogers‘ main opus was in Paris and co-designed […]

“Sexist advertising for the Escobar phone is everything tech wishes it could still get away with”

Holly Brookwell is unimpressed by the sexiest advertising for the gold folding phone launched by Pablo Escobar’s brother, but is not surprised. Like most people, when I saw the Escobar Fold 1 I thought it was a hoax. But as with many new products in tech, the gold-coloured folding phone bearing the monogram of notorious deceased drug […]

“In choosing blue, Pantone has missed the mark once more”

Pantone played it safe and still missed the mark by picking Classic Blue as its colour of the year for 2020, says Michelle Ogundehin. After the debacle of naming Living Coral as its 2019 Color of the Year (COTY), a shade supposedly based on the natural pigmentation of healthy ocean coral, despite this being in perilously short […]

“High-tech was a supreme toys-for-the-boys moment”

Continuing our high-tech architecture series, Catherine Slessor looks at how the women in Team 4 helped shape the narrative of the movement. All architecture is a leap into an unknowable future, but how will history regard high-tech? As a movement, it now does seem more like an ending than a beginning; a rarified sub-stratum of architectural […]

“Whoever wins the general election will bring radical change for better, or worse”

The leading parties manifestos contain bold pledges that will change Britain’s cities for generations, says Phineas Harper. He takes a look at the architecture and housing policies ahead of the UK’s general election. Not for generations have the British faced such a profound political crossroads as the choice they must make on 12 December. Of the […]

“We must recognise the workers who make museum-going a smooth architectural experience”

Following protests about working conditions at well-known museums – like the Marciano Art Foundation and MoMA – Mimi Zeiger says it’s time to address architecture’s relationship to unfair labour practices. A symbol of the Freemasons – the architecturally familiar square and compass – decorate the facade of the hastily shuttered Marciano Art Foundation, formerly the […]

“Cybertruck represents a highly conservative continuation of the status quo”

Tesla’s electric Cybertruck is billed as a radical redefinition of the car, but in fact draws on old-fashioned ideas of escape, argues Elizabeth Bisley, co-curator of the V&A museum’s new exhibition about car design. The prototype for Elon Musk’s Cybertruck was launched in LA just over a week ago at a testosterone-fuelled event in Tesla’s […]

“We have to do better than ugliness and incoherence. We can be woke and good designers as well”

The current way architecture is critiqued and presented at biennials and exhibitions is ugly, but it doesn’t need to be, argues Aaron Betsky. Does critical architecture have to be ugly? Must it forego form and image altogether to be effective? That would certainly seem to be the message of many recent books, exhibitions and biennial […]

“The creative industries are misreading the public”

With Brexit the British people have shown a greater appetite for risk than the creative sector, which needs to take the public more seriously or risk becoming irrelevant, says Martyn Perks of the Dissenters Design Network. A general election has been called. No one knows exactly what the UK public will do, but they will […]

“High-tech is ever edging away from its ecological and humanistic roots”

High-tech architecture has strayed far from its environmentally conscientious beginnings, but could rise again if it returns to them, writes Phineas Harper. The Sainsbury Centre in Norwich weighs 5,618.6 tons. We know this because, when its architect, Norman Foster, took his former mentor Richard Buckminster Fuller to visit the project, the internationally-celebrated inventor and godfather […]

“Attempts to stop terrorism at the fringes of architecture are becoming increasingly useless”

Architects and designers can’t design ways to protect mass terror attacks in America’s public spaces, but they should join the fight to eliminate the problem at its cause, argues Aaron Betsky. When you want to attack a democracy, go for its public spaces. That seems to be the tactic more and more terrorists are using. […]

“To end plastic pollution, we first need to eliminate language pollution”

Designers’ efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their products are being hampered by confusion over terminology and rampant greenwashing, writes Marcus Fairs. Greenwashing is back. As concern about climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and species extinction rises, so too are spurious claims about saving the planet. Terms like “sustainable”, “biodegradable”, “compostable” and “circular” increasingly […]

“Goldsmith Street offers a roadmap for precisely the type of housing the UK needs”

At a time when everything in the UK looks bleak, an environmentally conscious social housing scheme winning the Stirling Prize is a rare moment of hope, writes Piers Taylor. Most people inside and outside the United Kingdom will know that it’s a pretty rubbish place to live at the moment. The country is in turmoil, and completely divided. […]

“Facial recognition is a fundamental threat to society”

The use of facial recognition in Hong Kong and London’s King’s Cross demonstrates the need to control access to the technology in the same way other dangerous items are regulated, says Owen Hopkins. For the past few months I’ve been transfixed by the protests taking place in Hong Kong, and the way, as so often happens, […]

“Our dependency on growth, like on concrete, must be abolished”

The pursuit of infinite economic growth is driving climate breakdown and producing ecologically toxic architecture, argues Phineas Harper, one of the chief curators of the Oslo Architecture Triennale. Shipwrecked in a storm, you might avoid a watery grave if by chance the top of a mahogany grand piano came floating past. Clambering aboard this improvised […]

“The best suburban malls were meccas with superb qualities”

As America’s suburban shopping malls are becoming ghost towns, Aaron Betsky argues that their complex architecture character means that they deserve more serious consideration. Once shopping had style. What you bought, where you bought it, and perhaps even what you wore when you bought it mattered. The stores, the stuff, and you all had to look good. […]

“Should architects design provocatively ugly architecture that does not conform to Instagram’s aesthetic conventions?”

Instagram has had a huge impact on the architecture of our cities and perhaps it is time that this changed, says Will Jennings. In just nine years, Instagram has risen from a fun photo-sharing app to a central element of contemporary culture. Instagrammable is now a recognised word, and as a verb “to Instagram” is […]

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