15 TED TALKS EVERY ARCHITECT MUST WATCH

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Are you feeling short on inspiration today?

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If you’re seeking for professional inspiration, provided by experienced people who have done amazing things, TED is a great source to rely on. It’s one of the best organization for professional inspiration in technology, entertainment, design and architecture.

Here we’ve compiled 10 of the best TED Talks in recent years which, while not strictly about architecture, will certainly appeal to the architectural mindset.

ARCHITECTURE THAT’S BUILT TO HEAL | Michael Murphy

American architect Michael Murphy, cofounder of the nonprofit firm MASS Design Group, promotes the healing power of architecture in this 2016 presentation. He explains how his firm has used local materials and labour to create dignified architecture in Haiti, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere.

 

3 WARP-SPEED ARCHITECTURE TALES | Bjarke Ingels

In this 2009 presentation, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels discusses his manifesto, Yes Is More, and the need for architects to be more earnestly engaged with the real world. Featured projects include the Danish pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo and the carbon-neutral Zira Islan masterplan for Azerbaijan.

 

WHY THE BUILDINGS OF THE FUTURE WILL BE SHAPED BY … YOU | Marc Kushner

In this talk from 2014, Marc Kushner, a US-based architect and cofounder of the media site Architizer, delivers an energetic and whirlwind tour of the past 30 years of architecture. He notes how digital media has radically transformed architecture in the 21st century, as it informs and engages the public in ways never before possible.

 

BUILDING THE SEED CATHEDRAL | Thomas Heatherwick

There’s usually an obvious answer to most problems, and then there’s Thomas Heatherwick’s solution. Heatherwick is an architect who refuses to take the conventional path, instead dreaming up new ways to do things. Here he demonstrates his prowess: showing a folding bridge that curls up and ‘kisses itself’, taking seeds out of small paper packets and constructing a light-filled cathedral for them, or turning apartment buildings upside down and creating a rain-forest between them.

 

HOW TO BUILD WITH CLAY … AND COMMUNITY | Diébédo Francis Kéré

In 2013, Berlin-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré spoke about his work in Burkina Faso, the impoverished West African country where he was raised. He explains how he uses local materials, such as clay, and the power of community to create enduring architecture in his homeland.

 

WELCOME TO THE AGE OF THE INDUSTRIAL INTERNET | Marco Annunziata

At the dawn of what is known as “The Internet of Things,” Marco Annunziatapresents a future with exciting implications for us all. With the price of computer sensors and memory space having drastically decreased over the last decade, Annunziata declares that machines are now “brilliant: self-aware, predictive, reactive, and social” which effectively creates a world where information itself is intelligent. For architects, the implication of these changes could be that buildings are reactive to their inhabitants, and with information being provided by buildings themselves, maintenance can be performed in these structures just before they break.

 

HOW TO REVIVE A NEIGHBORHOOD: WITH IMAGINATION, BEAUTY AND ART | Theaster Gates

The question: “How do we improve the city?” is common in architecture circles — in presentations, symposiums, and the classroom. In some ways that conversation has become muddled, with the same rhetoric simply being reformulated among architecture’s practitioners. In this refreshing talk by the sculptor and non-architect, Theaster Gates discusses the improvement and beautification of his neighborhood of Grand Crossing, Michigan. While architecture is widely implicated in the talk, it is instead culture that is placed at the core of what Gates is talking about. It’s an interesting way to look at infrastructure, urban planning, and urban renewal that departs from the usual language of architecture. Perhaps it takes a talk such as this to state the obvious: that architecture is culture.

 

ARCHITECTURE FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE | Alastair Parvin

When Alastair Parvin graduated from architecture school a few years ago, many European architects were out of work. He stopped fixating on what he was “supposed” to produce — buildings — and instead, embraced the resourceful and strategic thinking he had learned in school to make himself more useful. Parvin began to ruminate about the people who never could afford architects and how they could benefit from design thinking. Out of this WikiHouse was born — an open source construction system that enables anyone, anywhere to build a house.

 

MY ARCHITECTURAL PHILOSOPHY? BRING THE COMMUNITY INTO THE PROCESS | Alejandro Aravena

When asked to build housing for 100 families in Chile ten years ago, Alejandro Aravena looked to an unusual inspiration: the wisdom of favelas and slums. Rather than building a large building with small units, he built flexible half-homes that each family could expand on. It was a complex problem, but with a simple solution — one that he arrived at by working with the families themselves. With a chalkboard and beautiful images of his designs, Aravena walks us through three projects where clever rethinking led to beautiful design with great benefit.

 

EMERGENCY SHELTERS MADE FROM PAPER | Shigeru Ban

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban talks about his innovative paper tube architecture in this 2013 presentation, with a focus on emergency shelters. He has used the low-cost material to construct buildings for refugees in Rwanda and earthquake victims in Japan, among other places ravaged by war or natural disasters.

 

DESIGNERS — THINK BIG! | Tim Brown

Tim Brown calls upon designers to move beyond their professions and “focus less on the object and more on design thinking as an approach.” He advocates design thinking as the answer to many of the world’s problems, whatever they may be, calling upon watchers to start thinking about those problems and what we can do about them.

 

MY WISH: A CALL FOR OPEN-SOURCE ARCHITECTURE | Cameron Sinclair

Architecture can tend to be a hierarchy where lead designers develop ideas which gradually trickle down through the ranks. Cameron Sinclair has a different idea. Sinclair is co-founder and CEO (Chief Eternal Optimist) of Architecture for Humanity, a non-profit organization which wants to tap the world’s supply of socially responsible designers to aid in humanitarian situations. Starting with only a laptop and $700, Sinclair is now working towards creating a globally accessible network of collaborative, open-source design, where thousands of people from thousands of specialities can all contribute, creating fast and free innovation to help the lives of those who really need it.

 

WHY GREAT ARCHITECTURE SHOULD TELL A STORY | Ole Scheeren

German architect Ole Scheeren discusses the role of storytelling and collaboration in architecture, dubbed Form Follows Fiction in this 2015 presentation. Featured projects include the CCTV Tower in Beijing, the massive Interlace residential complex in Singapore, and the Collaborative Cloud office building in Berlin.

 

HOW ARCHITECTURE CAN CONNECT US | Thom Mayne

Architect Thom Mayne has never been one to take the easy option, and this whistle-stop tour of the buildings he’s created makes you glad for it. These are big ideas cast in material form.

 

HOW GREAT LEADERS INSPIRE ACTION | Simon Sinek

The idea of self-promotion is something that many architects are uncomfortable with, and as a result, few do it well. But according to Simon Sinek, there is a simple key to becoming a leader in a field and being successful, whether that’s in a commercial venture or in becoming the leader of a social movement.

 

Have a favorite architecture TED talk that we missed? Let us know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading! :)