Western architects are beginning to design all over the swiftly urbanizing continent. We all know that American architects are finding work in China, Korea, and Qatar—but Angola, Botswana, and Burundi? Africa is booming: The continent is home to seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. It is also urbanizing at astonishing speed, with rapidly rising education rates and a burgeoning middle class. Yes, in parts of Africa there are tragic clashes of violence, desperate refugees, and entrenched poverty—and growing development may only widen the socioeconomic chasms. But news reports rarely paint the
How the 2012 Olympics became the “alibi” for reclaiming a derelict swath of the city. After the gold medals are carried home and the frenzy of each Summer Olympics dies down, what becomes of the much-televised architecture and urban designs created for the Games? Beijing’s Bird’s Nest from 2008—that spectacular blend of artistry and engineering by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei—is mostly visited by tourists these days, who grab a shot of themselves in front of it, but its vast interior is only intermittently filled with shopping stalls or the occasional athletic event or concert. In Sydney, the
Architecture isn’t always an equal opportunity profession. Later this month, the Pritzker Architecture Prize will be awarded to the Chinese architect Wang Shu at a ceremony in Beijing. It’s an exciting choice—though it’s worth noting that the prize did not include Lu Wenyu, his wife and architectural partner in the firm they founded together, Amateur Architecture Studio, in Hangzhou.
Can public-interest design become a viable alternative to traditional practice? Last month Salon published an article titled “The Architecture Meltdown.” The piece, by Scott Timberg, detailed the high unemployment rates, the shrinking fees, and the tough climate for fresh architecture grads, weighed down by heavy student debt. It’s so bad, said one architect, Guy Horton (a contributor to architectural record), that architecture has become “the new English major.” The article’s author blamed the poor economy, of course, but he also tore into the profession as the designer of its own demise. While the media has lionized the starchitect—the solo creative