Working-Class House Conversion in Spain for Dwell

A 1960s Time Capsule in Spain Gets the Bachelor Pad Treatment
, Dwell, June 25, 2021.

In the 1960s, the city of Zaragoza nearly doubled its housing stock to accommodate an expanding industrial work force. In the La Jota neighborhood specifically, single-family homes were built cheaply and quickly. When Alonso Zgz purchased one with the intention of renovating, its only adornments were a terra-cotta roof and simple curling brackets beneath the cornice.

But its characteristic simplicity is what attracted Alonso, a bachelor working in the pharmaceutical industry. When looking for a new home, he sought privacy, and something timeworn, but also an opportunity to demonstrate modern style within the shell of an old building. "For me, buildings and cities are elements that are alive," Alonso says. "It was important that the house had that patina, those traces from the past."

Barcelona Flat Adds Geometric Color for Dwell

Inside Residence 0110, a brass-clad structural wall adds a pop of color to the open living area, which is lined on one side with black-stained oak and stainless-steel cabinets, walls, and doors. Throughout the 1,023-square-foot apartment, colorful and geometric details are echoed in accent walls and custom shelves.

A Weekend House in the French Riviera for Dwell

An Architect’s Weekend Home Along the French Riviera Borrows Stones From Ancient Ruins
, Dwell, May 11, 2021.

In spite of much of the world grinding to a halt during the pandemic, work didn’t slow down for Jeremy Biermann, founder of bear architectes. Transitioning away from his offices in the Principality of Monaco, he continued his practice out of his family’s weekend home a few miles away in La Turbie, a commune that overlooks the French Riviera. Like much of the village, the stone walls of Biermann’s home come from the ruins of a circa-6 B.C. Roman monument, the Trophy of Augustus, which was erected to commemorate the emperor’s conquest of local tribes. 

Maggie's Centre's in L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui

Maggie's Centres in the UK since 1996, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui 441, February 2021. 

Metaphors of visuality and visual perception tend to dominate the language of architecture. But in Maggie’s Centres, bringing the body into contact with sense experience and orchestrating interpersonal relationships through the interplay of architecture and landscape is at the core of individual and social well-being.


Beyond a Broken System on Justice Reform in New York City

Beyond a Broken System: The closure of Rikers Island created an opportunity to rethink New York City’s prisons. But critics of the U.S. carceral system discourage architects from participating in a justice system defined by disparity, Oculus, Winter, 2021


When any administrative body opts to deprive an individual of liberty based on the belief that it serves the greater social good, an extraordinary amount of modesty and restraint are warranted. We are told that the U.S. justice system allows defendants due process, equal justice under the law, and presumption of innocence until proven guilty. In practice, we know that many people get caught in “the system” for radically arbitrary reasons, corrupted by unjust and unequal processes. The mechanistic grinding of the system subjects millions to incarceration or supervision. Deep-seated legacies of discrimination go unaddressed. Countless are sentenced for crimes they didn’t commit, or are detained for extended periods because of slow trials and lack of cash for court fees, bail, and attorneys. 


In June 2016, the city council reforms passed the Criminal Justice Reform Act, replacing criminal charges with civil penalties for many low-level, nonviolent offenses, such as open containers of alcohol, public urination, littering, and jumping subway turnstiles. Ninety percent of criminal court summons-es were eliminated in the following year. Diversion programs to assessment and community service offered alternatives to incarceration for young people and those with mental health and other issues. The city worked to clear hundreds of thou-sands of outstanding warrants for minor criminal offenses, more than 800,000 of them issued more than 10 years earlier and only 3% of them for felonies, the rest for administrative code violations, infractions, and misdemeanors. These types of judicial and procedural reforms have reduced New York City’s jail population by more than half since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, from 10,912 in 2014 to below 4,000 as of April 2020. 


If the de Blasio Administration achieves only one significant victory during its tenure—for all its shortcomings and inattention to detail—the program to reform the justice system would be a change worthy of great acclaim. Certain members of the public worry that the jails may become too good. If jails were too comfortable, wouldn’t more people want to go there? The complaint reveals how much farther we have to go in planning the non-carceral world.

Reform From the Inside: Bronx Community Solutions


Reform From the Inside: Bronx Community Solutions, Oculus, Winter 2021

Maria Almonte’s staff increased almost tenfold four years ago when her office helped start the Supervised Release program in the Bronx. Instead of releasing people on their own recognizance, setting bail—often beyond the means of the people accused of nonviolent or civil offenses, resulting in jail time for minor offenses—or sending the accused to jail to await trial, Supervised Release provides community-based supervision and support through non-profit agencies for those with pending cases, ensuring they return to court and avoid arrest. It’s one of five agencies citywide that provide pretrial supervision, currently managing 350 cases. “Because I’ve been working in the criminal justice system and trying to bridge the gap between courts and community, I’ve come to understand and appreciate that community members value public safety, but they also value the fact that Black and brown individuals com-ing through the system are their community,” Almonte says.

Designing a Non-Dystopian Future


Designing a Non Dystopian Future: In a time and state of flux, a discussion on building more inclusive, more visionary, and more radical forms of urban space and institutions. Amplify Cities, a global speculative think-tank, will be discussing the reimagination of cities and policies for a non-dystopian future. Design Futures Lab, California College of the Arts, Jan. 28, 2021

Gardenhouse by MAD Architects

A Hill With a House on the Top: Designed by Beijing-based MAD Architects, the lush Gardenhouse complex in Los Angeles offers 18-units with dedicated parking and personal elevator, but concierge and valet services comparable to a first-class hotel. Abitare, Jan. 3, 2021

The ecological lifestyle becomes a fiction of symbolic consumption that doesn’t actually benefit the environment or society. Compared to a household living in the rural countryside, surrounded by relatively undisturbed nature, the growing fashion for planted buildings suggest a kind of virtue-signaling that doesn’t quite live up to its advertising. Yet energy codes in Los Angeles and California are robust for new construction, providing an alibi for their greenwashed symbolism, and on the level of expression, buildings with living walls are resonant billboards for sustainable architecture.

Speculative Twists: Studio Gang's MIRA Tower in Abitare


Speculative Twists: Studio Gang's MIRA Tower in San Francisco, Abitare, Dec. 2020.

“It’s necessary to ask, however: why are 60 percent of the homes on public property designed for the top one or two percent of income earners, rather than only one or two percent of the units? Our policy and planning institutions are at the service of the rich. That is the logic of capital. In a better-designed economic structure, Jeanne Gang would have access to billions of dollars to make a city as imaginative, thoughtful, cooperative, and equitable as she would be capable of creating. The failing system keeps compelling us to churn out luxury high-rises with some greater or lesser margin of below-market rate housing within.”

Tadao Ando's Manhattan Penthouse in Abitare


A Temple among the Clouds, Abitare, October 2020. 

“I always try to create homes that go beyond mere functional requirements, in order to turn them into places of rest for the spirit and the heart,” explains the acclaimed Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who has designed this white penthouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for his friend the gallerist Kazuhito Yoshii.