Across Canada, a renewed interest in urbanity is leading to density increases unheard of in more than a generation. As Corporate Knights writes, not all density is equal however. As the country works to reduce its carbon footprint, accommodate new residents and improve the cost efficiency of its infrastructure, creating “density done well” is essential. Smart policy and strategic planning coupled with an eye for the human scale will be imperative to successful density in Canada.
Lego has long been the first building block for budding architects. Now, as Line//Shape//Space writes, another cube-based medium, Minecraft, is becoming the go-to “game” by combining the benefits of those Danish blocks with the limitless potential of a digital world. By operating from a “human perspective”, where users inhabit the space they’re building, and by emphasizing real-time collaboration, Minecraft could shape a generation of architects who are more attuned to their surroundings. More than just a game, the program is already being used as a tool for competition, education and design.
Cities and buildings are made for people and by people. Architects’ interpretation of the human body transfers into their architectural designs. Le Corbusier‘s tall and muscular person created utopian city sketches with large geometrical buildings. Similarly, Theo van Doesburg’s stacked up person looks exactly like many of his products. The way we perceive our surroundings influences how and who we shape them for. How would you, or your favourite architect draw the most vital of forms?
Recently, the American Institute of Architects released a report on diversity in architecture. The results show that while both women and people of colour remain underrepresented, gender issues are particularly acute. In support, Archdaily wrote about how greater gender equity and workforce diversity benefits a firm’s triple bottom line. Work-life balance, flexibility and working hours were key challenges reported. Addressing these concerns is likely to have one more benefit: a field more reflective and responsive to the society it serves.
As sites of opportunity, cities have a long history of attracting new, poor residents. Terrible housing conditions for these newcomers was well documented and in response, governments began offering social housing. Balancing quality of life, good design and cost has remained a stubborn challenge, however. Numerous designs have been tested, with varying success. Recently, a low-rise, high-density approach has regained popularity. This typology is promoted on the basis of encouraging eyes on the street and creating well-defined spaces, while lower building heights reduce costs. While the success of this typology within current socioeconomic context(s) remains to be seen, a return to this typology suggests that architects, social advocates and policy-makers may be closing in on the (contextually-dependent) Goldilocks of social housing.
It is well-established that school design affects learning. Now, evidence is emerging that views and surrounding landscapes have big impacts too. The Dirt has a new article about a University of Illinois study that found green views led to better attentional functioning and stress recovery after short breaks from academic activities. For designers, architects and landscape architects, this suggests that designs and retrofits that maximize indoor views of trees and greenery enhance the learning environment and further support academic success.
A subtle but important shift may be taking place in leading architectural circles. As Intelligent Life writes, longstanding starchitects with a penchant for parametric architecture appear to be losing favour to more restrained approaches. Programs to create slick digital designs and imagery are now standard tools, ones that architects are increasingly interested in combining with traditional styles for a fresh look. Perhaps more importantly, this shift includes greater focus on urban context and a holistic view of the city. Important steps in the pursuit of holistic city-making.