Zaha Hadid: King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art

I’ve been known to be a little bit of a ‘Zaha Hater’ occasionally – both because I’m not totally enamored with twisty-curvy design, and because I’m not particularly geeked off of name brand architecture – but I’m feeling this proposal for the King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art in Amman, Jordan.

Inspired by the eroded forms of Petra, the House of Culture & Art is a simple volume stretching along the highway – from which the internal spaces are ‘eroded’, creating a curvilinear interior to a mostly-rectilinear structure. The project includes a 1600-seat concert hall, 400-seat theatre, educational centre, rehearsal rooms, and galleries. The large, eroded void in the mass of the building marks the public spaces – which connect to a series of exterior plazas [that will even extend beneath the highway - see the video below]. This public space then also serves to distinguish between the two main program elements – the large concert hall at the end of the volume [all the way to the left of the image above], and the smaller theatre which seems to hang above the main entry space [the right end of the volume in the image above].

There’s also some kind of transparency / translucency being achieved in some of the more solid-appearing parts of the volume, although I’m not really sure as of yet what’s going on there.

The architectural expression for the new performing arts centre has been inspired by the magnificent ancient city of Petra explains Zaha Hadid. “Petra is an astonishing example of the wonderful interplay between architecture and nature, as well as the intricate complexity and elegance of natural forms – the rose-colored mountain walls have been eroded, carved and polished to reveal the astonishing strata of sedimentation. We have applied these principles to articulate the public spaces within the centre, with eroded interior surfaces that extend into the public plaza in front of the building.”

~ Zaha Hadid Architects

One thing that concerns me is that while this long, almost over-sized, volume seems appropriate for facing a highway, it seems as if the building might be ‘turning its back’ on the neighborhood on its other side [watch the YouTube video below to see what I'm talking about]. However, I have no idea what the neighborhood is, or if it should be addressed in another way – it’s just my initial reaction to seeing the animation below.


Unfortunately I can’t find any plans / sections yet – but I’m sure they’ll start popping up on these here interwebs soon enough [not that anyone seems to care about that sort of thing anymore, unfortunately]. Construction is scheduled to begin sometime in 2012.

Posted: March 2nd, 2010
at 11:38am

Tagged with , , ,

Categories: architecture,starchitects

Comments: 4 comments

Photo du Jour 02.03.2010

[photo by Christina Römer]

Designboom has a recent post featuring a number of photos named winners and honourable mentions of a competition launched by the German company Thonet. The competition? To photograph the iconic Thonet no. 214, as a way to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

214: It is often called the chair of all chairs – and rightfully so. traditionally-made chairs had handcrafted joints. Then, around 1850, michael thonet made production cheaper by bending the wooden components using steam and simply screwing them together. No other chair has ever been reproduced as many times.  To date, more than 50 million copies have been made. And thonet is still producing it following the original well-tried and proven principles. Chair no. 14, today 214, is considered the most successful industrial product in the world.

Basically, I just thought the photo was dope – check out the Designboom post for more.


Posted: March 2nd, 2010
at 10:04am

Tagged with , , ,

Categories: architecture,design,furniture,photographie

Comments: 2 comments

Bloom Box

Is the ‘Bloom Box’ the real deal? Is it a miraculous fue cell that will revolutionize ‘green’ energy?

.:Architect Magazine Ecology Blog->

Posted: March 1st, 2010
at 1:21pm

Categories: sidenote

Comments: No comments

Ninjas on the ‘Net

[United States of Facebook - via archiCULTURE]

Happy March! With any luck, Spring is rapidly approaching, and things will start turning green again (Boston has been a lovely shade of overcast grey for months – as has most of the North East, I imagine).

Interesting news (for me, at least) to kick off the month: I’ve been asked to return to the firm that had to lay me off last year. Just over a year after cutting me loose (I’m estimating 54 weeks), they’ve contacted me about returning to help on some current projects. Now I say this is interesting not because I’m about to be employed full-time again, but because this is (I think) a telling example of how things are moving in architecture. Some work is picking up for this firm – in early design phases – but they’re still cautious about their immediate future, as everyone is unsure how far the projects will progress. I, for instance, am being brought back for a period of 3 months – after which I may be out again.

After meeting with my old co-workers and seeing what I’d be working on, I was struck by the fact that only one project (for now) was in the US – not because this is surprising in our current economy, but because for some reason it suddenly occurred to me that we may have hit a kind of critical density here. I know expansion is as American as apple pie and xenophobia, but it seems as if we’ve reached a point where the only way to populate a new community is to syphon population away from another area – essentially moving people simply for the sake of ‘progress’ and profit. There was so much talk last year about the end of the so-called “architecture of excess” (as if Thom Mayne should never work again because Wall Street and the Banks screwed us all), but I wonder if that isn’t missing the point. We’ll always need a certain number of new buildings, obviously – but what if the economic collapse means the death of New Urbanism and expansion for expansions sake? There’s a positive here, which is that this would create increased interest in our current urban/suburban areas – but how does the profession of architecture adapt to a change from the abundant growth from post WWII to the turn of the century to a more refined, perhaps more surgical, approach to dealing with what is already built / existing?

Maybe we all simply work for the UAE and China and don’t bother losing sleep over it.

Moving along, it’s time for this week’s link round-up. If you come across something on the interwebs that you think should appear on AMNP – as a post, as part of Ninjas on the ‘Net, or as a quick sidebar link – drop me an email at – or hit me up on Twitter (

Have a good week.

- the timeless work of I.M. Pei [the Guardian]

- “I’m a Western Architect” – interview with I.M. Pei [Financial Times]

- Ole Scheeren leaving OMA? [Archinect]

- learning from “Learning From…” [Archinect]

- feds looking for suggestions for greener communities [Denver Post]

- container city approved for Haiti relief [Inhabitat]

- architecture billings index drops in January [Building Online]

- the Architectures of Atelier Bow-Wow: Behaviorology [Dexigner]

- photog takes (beautiful) subjective look at homes [LA Times]

- how’s the environment doing? Ask the buildings [CNN]

- educational agriculture [BLDGBLOG]

- Vitus Bering Innovation Park | C. F. Møller Architects [+MOOD]

- interview with studiometrico [Archi-Ninja]

Posted: March 1st, 2010
at 12:00pm

Categories: Ninjas on the 'net

Comments: 3 comments

Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, Atelier Bow-Wow

BIArch Open Lectures: Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, “Architectural Behaviorology” from BIArch on Vimeo.

The Barcelona Institute of Architecture (BIArch) is an international institution set up to further interaction between academic research, specialized practice and the dissemination of contemporary architecture. The academic core of the Barcelona Institute of Architecture as a postgraduate institute is its MBIArch Post-Professional Master’s Degree program, currently open for applications for the 2010-2011 term.

The Open Lectures series is part of their public program, which included Yoshiharu Tsukamoto from the Japanese firm Atelier Bow-Wow. Atelier Bow-Wow has conducted an extensive research on japanese micro architecture, presented on their books Pet Architecture and Made in Tokyo.

BIArch Open Lectures: Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, “Architectural Behaviorology” (part 2) from BIArch on Vimeo.

.:via->Arch Daily

Posted: February 28th, 2010
at 10:19am

Categories: architecture,videos

Comments: No comments

Cabrini-Green – Time Lapse Demolition


The video is pretty self-explanatory, but here’s the text from YouTube that goes along with the video.

Time lapse animation of the demolition of 660 W. Division, one of the last remaining buildings within the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago. Since late 1999, Chicago has been working to replace the old model of isolated low income residences with new, low rise, mixed income communities. As of this posting, there are four more buildings to be demolished (two whites, two reds). For more information, please visit

.:via->Chicago Tribune

Posted: February 28th, 2010
at 9:53am

Categories: housing,towering pagodas,videos

Comments: 1 comment

Fortress America?

New London embassy shows both “power and paranoia”.
.:full story via->Foreign Policy

Posted: February 26th, 2010
at 2:06pm

Categories: sidenote

Comments: No comments

Housing Haiti

“InnoVida Holdings, LLC, headquartered in Miami Beach, is a company that builds fiber composite panels. It has pledged a donation of 1,000 prefab houses/shelters to Haiti. The company says the structures are waterproof, wind resistant and the walls have a far higher deflection capacity than concrete. The units have been designed by renowned architect Andres Duany.”

.:full story->Miami Herald

Posted: February 26th, 2010
at 1:55pm

Categories: sidenote

Comments: No comments

Network Publics #1

Discussions on Network Publics #1: Culture, at StudioX in NYC, 02.092010.

.:video of the discussion->

Posted: February 26th, 2010
at 1:52pm

Categories: sidenote

Comments: No comments

Design Biennial Boston 2010

Our ninjas over at the PINKCOMMAGALLERY are looking for entries of “design works that represent creative approaches and solutions to issues in contemporary design” for the first ever Design Biennial Boston 2010 exhibit.

A jury will be selecting works that they feel represent “the most significant emerging voices among Greater Boston’s early- career design talent (including practices working in architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, industrial design, and interior design)” for an exhibition opening late this Spring.

Applicants must practice in Greater Boston [so non-Beantown ninjas need not apply, sorry], must have graduated from a design or architecture program, must be presenting work that was completed independently, and must have been independently practicing for fewer than 10 years or 45 years old or younger. Applicants can be a team if they all meet these requirements.

The jury will include:

Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley and Michael Kubo, pinkcomma gallery

Stefane Barbeau, Vessel Inc.

Beate Becker, DIGMA

Eric Höweler, Höweler + Yoon Architecture

Fritz Klatke, Visual Dialogue

Dennis Kois, Director, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

Amanda Lawrence, PRAXIS and Northeastern

Beth Whittaker, MERGE Architects

Submissions must be received by 4 p.m. at the gallery on 12 March 2010.

If you think you’ve got the stuff, get some work together and submit [download PDF of guidelines and submittal forms here]! I look forward to seeing the results – and hope to feature some examples of the works chosen here on AMNP later this Spring.

.:Design Biennial Boston 2010->

Posted: February 26th, 2010
at 1:36pm

Categories: architecture,competitions,design

Comments: No comments