From self-cleaning buildings to illuminated domes, 2013 was a good year for structural innovation.
The Dome by Héctor Serrano and Borealis
While superstar architects like Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry continued to build prolific, large-scale projects at a super human rate in 2013, the year was also filled with several lesser known commissions equally worthy of adoration. With literally thousands of projects to choose from, we turned to the experts at Architizer, one of the world's largest platforms for architectural news and resources, for some of their favorite, just-under-the-radar projects of 2013.
"In searching for the year's most compelling work, we looked towards architects utilizing the most innovative technology, such as Richard Meier's pollution-resistant concrete corporation headquarters," says Steven Thomson of Architizer."We also want to spotlight designs addressing timely environmental and social challenges, like the application of local timber in a wheelchair-accessible London home, or vernacular materials inserted within a new museum in Port Elizabeth, South Africa that gives architectural form to the story of the apartheid struggle."
Below, check out some of the team's carefully curated selections:
Italcementi i.lab by Richard Meier & Partners Architects, Bergamo, Italy
Fittingly, Architizer A+ Awards 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Richard Meier’s V-shaped Italcementi i.lab is constructed of actual Italcementi cement. The material’s self-cleaning coating dilutes UV rays and pollution, so the pristine facade will maintain the architect’s signature stark-white shade.
Memorial to the Victims of Violence by Gaeta-Springall Arquitectos, Mexico City, Mexico
Located in a site previously occupied by the Ministry of Defense, this project makes public a new space for citizens to openly reconcile those lost to violence. The juxtaposition of solids and voids cast in rusted and mirrored steel allow the memorial to resonate with a spectrum of sentiments.
Fire Island Pines Pavilion by HWKN, Fire Island Pines, New York
Out of the ashes of a devastating 2011 fire, the Fire Island Pines Pavilion reopened this summer to greet the 800,000 ferry passengers that the New York retreat welcomes each season. The structure spotlights its natural setting in the form of the dance floor’s retractable skylights and a raw wood facade that reflects the island’s vernacular architecture.
The Dome by Héctor Serrano and Borealis, Indio, California
Rome’s iconic ancient Pantheon served as the inspiration for the central architectural element at this Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival. Nearly 1,000 spheres and LEDs commingled to create an immersive dome experience.
Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM) by Rudy Ricciotti, Marseilles, France
A stunning new icon for the city of Marseilles designed by Algerian-born French architect Rudy Ricciotti, the MuCEM's most recognizable feature is its delicate façade, an intricate network of concrete glazing resembling a light mesh that dematerializes the structure. Effectively an amorphous brise-soleil, the pores of the mesh filter light into the building, creating a dazzling play of shadows on the interior walls and floors.
Museum for Architectural Drawing by SPEECH Tchoban and Kuzentsov, Berlin
Situated on the site of a former factory in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg, the Museum for Architectural Drawing is composed of stacked volumes forming a man-made cliff on the edge of an open space. What appear to be either formwork lines or quarrying marks on the exterior are architectural drawings carved into the façade.
Tree House by 6a Architects, London
To mitigate the adverse environmental effects of construction, the solution for many eco-conscious architects and homeowners is much closer than one might think: opting for locally sourced and responsibly harvested timbers and woods. In this case, 6a Architects wove a timber-clad home through a garden to reconnect pre-existing landmarked 1830s living quarters for its current wheelchair-bound resident.
Pérez Art Museum Miami by Herzog & de Meuron, Miami
Rather than denying the intensity of South Florida's climate, the Swiss studio of Herzog & de Meuron have chosen to build shaded verandas and a waterfront terrace, displaying the full natural glory of the region and offering compelling public space. With a dramatic architectural silhouette and Biscayne Bay as its backdrop, the museum's collection of 20th-century and contemporary Atlantic Rim artwork—and a site-specific installation by Ai Weiwei—will be appreciated in a new light.
Danish National Maritime Museum by BIG - Bjarke Ingels Groups, Copenhagen
By marrying crucial historic elements with an innovative network concept of galleries, BIG’s renovation scheme reflects Denmark's historical and contemporary role as one of the world's leading maritime nations. Leaving the 60-year-old dock walls untouched, the galleries are placed below ground and arranged in a continuous circuit around the dry dock walls—making the dock the centerpiece of the exhibition where visitors experience firsthand the scale of ship building.
Montauban Multimedia Library by Colboc Franzen et Associés, Montauban, France
This new library intertwines three programs—citizens’ forum, a large reading space, and reading/working rooms—to create just the right work-home fusion. Like a giant rubik's cube, the top floor of the building has been twisted to form a geometry that addresses cues from the site’s background of the Pyrenean foothills.
Red Location Museum by Noero Wolff Architects, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Rather than traditional history museum timelines, the Red Location Museum documents the apartheid struggle via “memory boxes” that each exhibit the life story or perspective of people or groups who fought against the regime. The factory-like form pays homage to the workers unions’ pivotal role in overthrowing apartheid, while the rusted corrugated metal elements refer to the surrounding informal architecture.
Did we miss one of your favorite creations of 2013? Drop us a note in the comments section.
For more of our "Best of 2013" selections, check out below:
Special thank you to Steven Thomson and Katherine Wisniewski of Architizer.