Public performance: A theatre in Xàtiva, Spain by Arquitectos Ayala.

When the people form Arquitectos Ayala decided to enter the competition to design the new public theatre in Xàtiva, Spain, they ascended the nearby Mont Sant near the old fortress to get a better view of the site.

There, they could see how the avenue Alameda divided the old town from the new, and also marked a significant shift in levels and building heights of around 6m. They knew at that moment that the successful scheme would have to negotiate these level differences and integrate both the old and new towns.

As a result of these observations they spent much of their design time doing just that, and now it is built, the theatre has become a place to meet in the metaphorical as well as the physical sense. Read more

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Caen masterplan: Competition win for MVRDV.

The transformation of Presqu’ile de Caen moved a step closer with the announcement that MVRDV will be the chosen masterplanners. Their vision saw gardens from old factories, and an intensification of the urban area to create an attractive city quarter. There will also be a better connection to the sea. Read more

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Accomplished performance: wooden schools, Limeil-Brevannes, France by r2k-architectes.

Photos: Jussi Tiainen.

In France mayors have the power to choose architects and decide how public buildings should look. Often this power is exercised with considerable skill and care producing public buildings of excellent quality, as is the case here. The Mayor of Limeil-Brevannes had hitched his political wagon to sustainability, and in his view this meant wooden schools. The practice r2k-architectes, were only too happy to oblige with this accomplished performance, executed without drama.

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Jungle books: Nursery in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes.

Seeing this building recalled the work of the celebrated artist and sculpture David Mach. But surprisingly when I learned it was a nursery school in Boulogne-Billancourt, beautifully designed by Hondelatte Laporte Architectes, my immediate enthusiasm transformed into a more contemplative mood. Read more

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Rehousing the American Dream. Exhibition MoMA

Image: Gang Architects The Garden in the Machine. Model photographed by James Ewing

The financial and property crisis have soured the American Dream to the extent that some believe it needs re-defining and re-imagining. The Museum of Modern Art is holding an exploration and exhibition titled Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. It invited 5 design teams working within the findings of the Buell Hypothes – a research report into the state of American housing resulting from the crisis – to re-imagine how things could be. Read more

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