Architizer's A+Awards — the world's largest awards program for architecture and products — is open for entries! The early entry deadline is November 4. Click here for more information on how to submit your project or product.
If there is one thing that is predictable about architects, it is that they are eternally unpredictable. New design trends emerge from the profession as quickly as fashion changes with each passing season — but for the greatest designers out there, it is not about pure style, fleeting relevance or keeping up with Kanye. It is about establishing innovative, long-lasting solutions for a world where the environment, the economic climate and the political landscape are as volatile as ever. Architects now have to be the ninjas of the design world — and there are clear signs they are beginning to master this art.
The shortlist for the 2016 A+Awards — the world’s largest awards program for architecture and products — was littered with instances where both architects have thrown caution to the wind, producing contextual responses that defy the conventions of the construction industry to achieve their goals. Some of these projects might cause contractors to wince and investors to catch their breath — but when courageous clients utilize architects for their ability to improvise and experiment, the results are frequently groundbreaking. As you consider which projects to enter for this year's A+Awards, here are just five examples of the rule-breakers that rocked the 2016 shortlist.
Rule 1: Upcycling = reclaimed floorboards and glass-bottle walls.
Behold the truly outlandish 747 House by David Hertz Architects, and consider everything you thought you knew about upcycling redundant. Using the wings of an airliner as the roof of a contemporary residence might seem extravagant, but the architects point out the incredible value of harnessing salvaged materials on this kind of scale: “A 747 aircraft is enormous — over 230 feet long, 195 feet wide and 63 feet tall with over 17,000 cubic feet of cargo area alone … a tremendous amount of material for a very economical price of less than 50,000 dollars.”
Rule 2: Architecture is NOT art.
There is an artistic quality to David Hertz Architects’ audacious adoption of found materials, one that flies in the face of Patrik Schumacher’s forthright assertion that “architecture is NOT art.” If that is another ‘rule,’ then it is clearly one that many firms are looking to break, with some truly ethereal, occasionally awe-inspiring results. Bandesign’s restaurant in Gifu, Japan, is a case in point: The building doubles up as a huge art installation, its archetypal pitch-roofed volume sliced in two to reveal a magically mirrored pair of façades, reflecting an ornamental tree ad infinitum.
Rule 3: Concrete must be poured; bricks must be stacked.
Hisanori Ban’s unusual external finish is also indicative of a wider exploration of material applications by many firms in recent months. One of the most remarkable illustrations of this newfound sense of adventure is the rippling veil of Admun Design and Construction Studio’s project “Cloaked in Bricks” in Tehran, Iran. The architects cast aside assumptions about the material properties and bonding conventions of this age-old material, creating an undulating elevation more akin to fabric than blocks of clay.
Rule 4: Architects are all about black clothes and white buildings.
The warm hue of this terra cotta façade is striking enough, but if you needed any further evidence that architects are breaking free from their color-averse stereotype, there is an abundance of multi-chromatic projects to choose from. Perhaps the most vibrant of all is Nanyang Primary School, a project by Studio505 whose candy-colored elevations are designed to “showcase active, uninhibited free thinking and bringing joy and excitement equally to children and to the child within the teacher.” It is a building that even the most sullen Mies van der Rohe would surely smile about.
Rule 5: Architecture is all about buildings
Headline permitting, it appears reports that architecture is purely about buildings have been greatly exaggerated. Of course, landscape design has always been intrinsic to the profession, but Dutch landscape architecture firm Buro Harro blew convention away with its design for Bartokpark in Arnhem, Netherlands. The former wasteland has been transformed into a communal park with the help of artist Florentijn Hofman’s gargantuan Aardvark, a surreal monument that transcends architecture and reminds us that, when conjured up with great bravado, design can bring joy to whole communities.
For more information on how to submit your project or product for the fifth annual A+Awards, click here.