At least not in the sense of the aged solitary genius fighting contractors and builders to realize his one-off iconic piece; architecture is opening up to the youthful and ambitious.You could blame it on the recession, the globalization, the trend towards collaboration and multidisciplinarity or even on Mark Zuckerberg and the web 2.0 young guns. As Bjarke Ingels, one of the most successful 30-somethings in the architectural scene says,
For the first time, "young" actually means young, but "architect" may no longer mean architect.
But times are changing and for the first time it seems there is a shortcut or better yet a movement in the way that architectural careers are developing. Here is something that might have been unimaginable a 10 years ago - a selection of buildings by the under 40s:
I was very jealous of all the 19-year old Internet enterpeneurs who became multimillionaires overnight...[...] I thought it was unfair that I was stuck in such a gentlemen's business where you would have to wait until middle age before given the opportunity to build.
Founded in 2004, Fantastic Norway spent its first three years travelling around Norway in a red caravan, generating ideas and proposals in close collaboration with various local communities. “House of families” is a building for disadvantaged young women with children in Greenland, aiming to support families and mothers to fend for themselves and lead an independent life. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Fantastic Norway
The collapsible tent is inflated upon attachment to the heating vents of houses, which especially during cold months are the only alternative for the homeless through the nights. Rakowitz is spending time with each one of them, adapting the structure's design to their own personal needs and lifestyles concerning size, transparency, number of separate spaces etc. Surprisingly, his "clients" turned out to be as picky and design-conscious as you'd expect from anyone who commissions a home. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Michael Rakowitz
It’s the idea that you combine the suburban lifestyle—a house with a garden—with an urban Danish context says Bjarke Ingels. Under this terraced upper middle-class dream lies an unusually big, six-storey parking, partially wrapped in a huge semi-transparent print with mountains. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Jens Lindhe
Built on the unused top deck of a 10-storey car park in Peckham, London with a budget of £5,000, the cafe offers 360-degrees stunning views of the surroundings and quite a happy-go-lucky service, as you can read here. However it became such a hit, attracting a fashionable crowd and numerous sponsors that Practice Architecture began worrying whether they're not contributing to the gentrification of the region. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Practice Architecture
One of MOS creators, Michael Meredith says We don't have a stable image of what architecture should be. And apart from actually producing buildings, MOS make films, art installations, software and lots of other cool stuff. The floating house above is a curious response to the site-specific conditions of an unique place: an island on Lake Huron with drastically varying levels of water throughout the year. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Florian Holzherr
The Homeless World Cup is an annual event, in which teams of homeless people from all over the world meet for a Football World Cup. In 2010 the organizing committee decided to build a Legacy Center and Architecture for Humanity organized an international competition, won by Lompreta Nolte & Nanda Eskes Architects. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Lompreta Nolte Arquitetos, Nanda Eskes Arquitetura
Paisajes Emergentes are a promising young Medellin-based studio which has already won several competitions with their poetic, yet very well-thought designs. This one is conceptually based on the gradual flooding of the city. The Venice lake is colonized by an artificial reef system that intends to recover, keep and protect a living fertile ecosystem With the change of the tides the reef emerges and disappears partially. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Paisajes Emergentes
REBAR are a curious mix of urban activists, architects and artists whose provocative projects aim to redefine the way people use public spaces. Park Cycle is basically a pedal-powered park on wheels. One of the project's goals was providing green spaces to neighborhoods which need them and in the meantime, it's surely fun to have your lunch break there. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: REBAR
To the ones less sensitive to the global pains, there is the inexhaustible field of digital design and research, the ultimate tool of optimistic architecture and happy high-tech scenarios which care very little for the actual construction possibilities. The blobby, colorful, media skin designs of Tom Wiscombe's EMERGENT Architecture share a curious mix of the Dubai-style extravagancies with the future-embracing experiments of Archigram. Not everyone's cup of tea, but surely offers a nice break from the slightly overwhelming green design invasion. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: EMERGENT
The former SANAA disciple is definitely one to watch. His architectural vocabulary is one of minimalism, poetry, translucency and light, which play at their best in the Kanagawa Institute of Technology workshop. I wanted to create a building where it isn’t clear if there are any rules at all, says Ishigami, who more recently designed Japan’s pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale. For more images&info CLICK HERE. Image: Channelbeta
Not so long ago the typical professional path of a graduate meant working long hardcore hours under the wing of a bigger company and patiently layering brick over brick of professional experience, until a chance of a break comes somewhere in the late 40s. It necessarily included the slow and logical gradation from pavilions, beach houses and private homes to perhaps a small public facility and if lucky enough, a major commission. But all those preconceptions were shattered when in 2001 the 26-year olds Bjarke Ingels and Julied De Smedt left Rem Koolhaas' OMA to found their own, hugely successful PLOT, which only 5 years later peacefully split in the two just as successful practices BIG and JDS. OMA though was long before known as future-star incubator - just check this cute infographic. Or if you're a bit more shameless, go for this one, all from the resourceful and witty "Notes on becoming a famous architect" blog.
Most commonly the cut-off age limit for joining the "young architects" graph is assumed to be 40. But as practices are nowadays often founded and led by professionals in their early 30s or even younger, most of them are far from BIG's joyous success and would argue that actually producing buildings is what makes an architect. And while professionals and critics share the rising concern that ongoing recession and scarcity of jobs might chase young practitioners out of the field a considerable part of the latter are actually redefining the profession. Can you imagine starchitect gurus converting a former gas station into a temporary community cinema or gathering a dream team of colleagues to help the underprivileged world?
There is surely an agenda or rather, multiple agendas that arise as the discipline becomes even more densely involved with issues of economy, globalization, ecology and social processes. A lot of youngsters return to the hands-on craftsmen approach to skip the contractor and constructor steps through inventing and building their own briefs, mostly as light, temporary structures to pass the according laws. And this approach has produced some of the most original and provocative urban interventions recently going as far as Michael Rakowitz' ParaSITE project. An experiment running for over 10 years now his custom-made inflatable "bubble tents" for homeless people literally parasitizing on private homes have triggered an intensive social and political debate. Another decade-old, major initiative is Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stoth's Architecture for Humanity: a non-profit network of over 50 000 professionals providing design, construction and development services to communities in need.Today's selection celebrates the diversity of the emerging faces: from the "radical pleasing agenda" of comic-loving BIG through the digital blobby optimism of EMERGENT to the caravan architects of Fantastic Norway, travelling around the country to offer architectural services to different communities. There are, of course, numerous cultural and economic implications to this and perhaps rightfully Guardian's Rowan Moore warns us that
On a first sight what seems to be lacking is a strong critical platform, but I'd like to think of Daniel Libeskind saying that
You can't do architecture if you don't believe in a better future. You might as well be a poet or a musician composing in a minor key. But to be an architect, you need to construct something.
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