This Design Arts feature is a collection of posts of forward architecture at a pivotal time in our culture. These posts explore the question: How do you engage in experimental design at a time of economic contraction? From Zoe Rollers piece on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, which reports on a type of development that is largely stalled in the U.S. and Europe, it posits a model based on virtually unlimited budgets coupled with a determined and specific cultural agenda. Will these fantastical structures come to embody failure or success for architecture?
My posts are examples of widely different strategies for keeping architectural research viable within a successful practice. Kengo Kuma's Tea House, although completed before the world economic collapse, demonstrates working under the aegis of a manufacturers sponsorship and a commission from an organization. For the patrons, in terms of advertising dollars, a small outlay to develop a new design translates to generous and positive publicity. The WNW bar by Vo Trang Nghia relies on a commercial client to develop and build an entertainment destination that is also a prototype for a structure to be used as temporary housing after severe floods. The Los Angeles Design Group uses pure research as a selling point for a savvy architectural practice that includes expertise in finance and real estate development.