SHIFTS: How Did We Get Here, and What Comes Next? Book Launch + Discussion

Tues 22 May 2012 7pm

  • Hans Ibelings discussing the architectural economic climate at the AF Skyroom
  • Hans Ibelings at the AF Skyroom
  • Nanne de Ru presenting Powerhouse's research which led to the SHIFTS exhibition and book
  • Peter Buchanan responds to Hans and Nanne's discussion
  • Shifts, Powerhouse Company, 2012 at the AF Skyroom
  • Shifts, Powerhouse Company, 2012 at the AF Skyroom
  • Shifts, Powerhouse Company, 2012 at the AF Skyroom
  • Shifts, Powerhouse Company, 2012 at the AF Skyroom
  • Sarah Ichioka, director of the AF introducing the event
  • Shifts publication

In its current form, architecture is still a product of the Industrial Age, as is the idea that underpins it, namely that every change is an improvement. No profession is so imbued with the soap powder advertising optimism of ‘now better than ever’. But buildings also belong to the category of products on which financial capitalism thrived. Just as the millions of unpaid Facebook users ensure that Mark Zuckerberg is on his way to becoming the richest man in the universe, so all the (in this case paid) parties who make buildings, starting with architects, ensure that those who own the buildings become wealthier from it. At least, that’s how things worked until the recession. Because construction alone will not make you seriously rich.
- Hans Ibelings, SHIFTS

Nanne de Ru of Powerhouse Company and Hans Ibelings explored the themes of the exhibition in a far-reaching discussion with leading UK based practioners, at the forefront of conversations around global change and new economies, including worldwide urban development perspectives from Christopher Choa (AECOM) and fresh research on alternative economies and their implications for architecture, from Alice Fung (00:/, Hub Westminster). The conversation was chaired by Peter Buchanan, author of the Architecture Review's recent 12 part series of essays exploring the future of architecture, The Big Rethink.

Are we now seeing the formal end of the Industrial Revolution, the tipping point from which the East takes the reins from the West? What have de-regulation and the changing role of credit done to the world’s built environment? Through exploration of these vital questions, the evening also launched a new publication resulting from Ibelings and Powerhouse's research.

Speaker Biographies

Hans Ibelings
(b. Rotterdam, 1963) is an architectural historian and critic. From 1989 to 2000 he was a curator at the Netherlands Architecture Institute; from 2004 to 2012 he was editor-in-chief of A10; in 2005 and 2006 he was a visiting professor at the EPFL (Lausanne). Ibelings is the author of several books including Supermodernism: Architecture in the age of globalization and European architecture since 1890. Since 2012 he is editor of The Architecture Observer, which employs a variety of old and new media in the pursuit of architectural criticism.

Nanne de Ru (1976, the Netherlands) received the Master of Excellence in Architecture from the Berlage Institute, Postgraduate Laboratory of Architecture, Rotterdam (2002), a Bachelor of Architectural engineering from the Hogeschool van Amsterdam in (1998) and won the Vitae Bouwaward for best Dutch Architectural Engineering graduation project (1999). From 1998 to 1999 de Ru worked as a project leader at One Architecture in Amsterdam. During the years 2002-2004 de Ru worked at Rem Koolhaas' think tank AMO in Rotterdam as a lead researcher and designer on numerous large scale regional planning projects including Ruhrgebiet (a study for a new identity for the Ruhrvalley in Germany); Eurocore (a study into new forms of urbanity in Europe); Beijing Olympic conference center competition; Beijing preservation strategies; and The Image of Europe – a joint commission of the Dutch presidency and the European Commission. In 2005 he co-founded Powerhouse Company, an office for architecture, urbanism and research, with branches in Rotterdam and Copenhagen. Powerhouse Company employs 15 people and is working throughout Europe and Asia on design and research projects. Nanne de Ru teaches regularly at the Academy of Architecture in Rotterdam and has been guest professorships at various institutions including Aarhus University (DK), TU Delft (NL), Design Academy Eindhoven (NL) and AHO Oslo School of Architecture (NO). Nanne de Ru is member of the research board of the Berlage Institute.

Christopher Choa is a Principal with AECOM, the international land development and infrastructure consultancy. He focuses on urban regeneration, sustainable strategies for new development, and enhancing regional competitiveness. A prize-winning architect and native New Yorker, he is based in London and leads the firm’s urban development studio. Christopher served as co-chair of New York New Visions - the design coalition for the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Some of his ongoing or completed projects include the planning of Cairo Airport City, the regeneration of Sao Paolo’s Nova Luz district, the Saadiyat Island Masterplan in Abu Dhabi, the masterplan of Shanghai's North Bund, and the Zeitinburnu Seaport in Istanbul. A graduate of both Harvard and Yale, he has been a visiting critic at the Harvard School of Design, Columbia University, and UCL/Bartlett. His work, citations, and professional columns have been published in a wide range of journals, including World Architecture, Architectural Review, The Shanghai Daily, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

Alice Fung trained as an architect and is co-founder of 00:/, a strategic development and design practice, and of Hub Westminster, an incubator for 1000 startups. She has experience in the strategic development of place design projects that focus on delivering social institutions and places. Alice's recent roles include project architect of Hub Kings Cross and the development and operational delivery of Hub Westminster. Her previous experiences include an institutional development strategy for Somerset House, affordable housing schemes, innovative workspace environments and urban regeneration projects. Alice was the lead designer on the Compendium for the Civic Economy, a collection of 25 civic enterprises showcasing more sustainable routes to a different economy in our cities, towns and neighbourhoods, commissioned by CABE and NESTA. She is a Future 100 Award winner for entrepreneurial flair and innovation in progressing a responsible business venture. Alice is a fellow of the RSA, has tutored at the University of Bath and served as a member of the RIBA Validation Panel visiting architecture schools in the UK.

Peter Buchanan is a writer, critic, consultant and curator. He was born in Malawi, schooled in Zimbabwe and graduated B.Arch from the University of Cape Town in 1968. Peter worked as an architect and urban designer/planner in various parts of Africa, Europe and the Middle East before joining the Architect’s Journal and The Architectural Review in 1979, becoming Deputy Editor of the latter in 1982. As a freelance since 1992, he has curated the travelling exhibitions Renzo Piano Building Workshop: Selected Projects and Ten Shades of Green for The Architectural League of New York, written books and served as a consultant on urban design projects and publications. He has published copiously in journals from many countries, and lectured and taught summer schools and master classes in a similarly wide range of places and universities. His many books include the five volumes of Renzo Piano Building Workshop: Complete Works (Phaidon Press) and Ten Shades of Green (WW Norton).