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Rafael Vinoly Architects Book : Publication

Pressures and Distortions, City Dwellers as Builders and Critics: Four Views

Feb 3, 2012

New Book by Rafael Vinoly Architects’ Research Program

“Pressures and Distortions, City Dwellers as Builders and Critics: Four Views”

Rafael Vinoly Architects’ Research Program Publishes New Book Of Studies On Urbanism In The Face Of Rapid Social And Environmental Change

The book marks the culmination of Rafael Viñoly Architects’ third round of research awards

New York, NY – Rafael Viñoly Architects, PC (RVA) is delighted to announce the release of Pressures and Distortions – City Dwellers as Builders and Critics: Four Views, a new book, edited by architectural historian, Ned Kaufman PhD. The publication presents an insightful compilation of essays on architecture and urbanism that are the culmination of investigations by The Research Program’s 2009 fellows.

Rafael Viñoly:
Rafael Vinoly

Rafael Vinoly

The Research Program, founded by architect Rafael Viñoly, issued an open call for research proposals in 2008 offering financial grants, technical assistance and the opportunity for publication. From an estimated 185 reviewed proposals, RVA selected four proposals that focused on architecture and design’s effect on cities in the developing world, thereby creating a common focus that paralleled a significant change in the earth’s population. For the first time in history, 2008 saw the majority of humans living in urban environments.

The grants were awarded to international research teams from China, Australia, Mexico, Columbia, France and the United States. While RVA financially supported the research teams and published the findings, the views expressed in their work are presented without restraint and are independent of RVA. Rafael Viñoly has expressed that “the freedom to explore and investigate architecture problems devoid of the constraints imposed by project requirements is essential to the progression and growth of architecture and design as an aesthetic, yet solution-based profession. It is our duty to support these efforts.”

The fellows examined issues of urbanization in seven developing cities including some of the world’s largest: Shanghai and Shenzhen, China; Lima, Peru; Mexico City, Mexico; Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Bogota, Colombia; and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Using methodologies ranging from the observance of architectural vernacular to photojournalism to recording and tracking “ambiances,” the teams conducted their research with a “people-centered” approach to exploring how cities respond to extreme population growth.

The work is tied together by the following themes: (1) the prevalence of resident-centered architecture, in other words, the non-architect’s role in creating and interpreting built environments; (2) the search for origins of design in social organizations, economics and/or policy rather than aesthetics; and (3) the powerful role played by land and landownership in shaping a population’s response to change.

Ned Kaufman says this about the significance of this research in practical application, “Each study is replete with with ideas that governments, NGOs, designers, and communities can put into practice. Yet their strength lies in their recognition that there are no magic bullets: their most important lesson is to show how people-centered approaches can help us get past such simple and ultimately harmful prescriptions.”Pressures and Distortions, City Dwellers as Builders and Critics: Four Views ($39.95), published by Rafael Viñoly Architects, is available starting March 1, 2012 on and The 437-page book is illustrated with over 500 original full-color photographs and drawings and also includes a DVD with audio and video clips from the streets of Bogota.

About The Research Program

In 2005, Rafael Viñoly Architects (RVA) founded The Research Program in response to the need for the exploration of architectural practice without the confines of commissioned work. The program provides grants to individual researchers, with ideas and passions relating to the practice of architecture.

There have been three rounds of the program to date. The first two rounds were technological in focus and aspired to improve the practice of craft in architecture through innovations such as modular green roofs and the use of carbon fiber to create light structures. Initiated to celebrate RVA’s 25th anniversary, the most recent round of studies published in Pressures and Distortions- City Dwellers as Builders and Critics: Four Views, were awarded to researchers whose studies focused on architecture and design’s social implications and focused on the developing world.

For additional information about The Research Program, please visit

About Rafael Vinoly Architects

Founded in New York in 1983, Rafael Viñoly Architects has offices in New York, New York, London, and the United Arab Emirates. Internationally known for architectural projects around the globe, the firm has designed many landmark cultural and civic complexes as well as institutional and commercial buildings, and master plans. Over the past quarter century, the practice has continually demonstrated its ability to reinvent institutional typologies and integrate the public realm into civic buildings.

The unusually diverse work the firm has completed includes award-winning educational facilities, courthouses, museums, performing arts centers, convention centers, athletic facilities, banks, hotels, laboratories, hospitals, recreational venues, residential commissions, and commercial, industrial and educational facilities. Projects range in scale from custom laboratory casework to urban design and master planning. The firm has also completed several projects involving the restoration and expansion of large-scale buildings of significant historical and architectural value.

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