The Dublin-based duo excel in designs that resonate with their cultural and historic contexts. They created one of the outstanding buildings of 2012 – Belfast’s Lyric Theatre – and are now testing their approach on major projects in London and Budapest.

San Rocco may be a magazine rather than an architect, but its spirit of intellectual enquiry and diverse crowd-sourced content has quickly established it as an influential voice in European architecture, as well as a compelling model for a new type of practice.

Jim Archer has designed a system that gets rid of waste, saves on fuel and provides a facility where communities in Kenya can come together and cook. Not a bad outcome after much time spent rooting through piles of rubbish.

Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma specialise in challenging conventional ways of thinking about traditional materials such as leather and charcoal – and despite their collaborations with big-name manufacturers, they show no sign of losing their edge.

Frank Gehry’s New York theatre complex is a return to the raw plywood, concrete and glass architecture of his early career. He spoke to Icon about his design process, why he wants to be known for creating buildings of warmth and humanity, and why so much architecture achieves precisely the opposite.

It may not look much, but connect it to a keyboard and monitor and the Raspberry Pi becomes a desktop PC. With half a million units sold in its first year, its makers hope that this programmable computer will inspire a generation of children raised on games consoles to rediscover the delights of tinkering with code.

Konstantin Grcic’s wooden chair has an angular and awkward charm that springs from the responsiveness and hands-on approach of Italian furniture manufacturer Mattiazzi and the designer’s desire to rediscover his cabinet-making roots.

The sight of 204 copper torches rising to form one vast bowl of flame was an extraordinary finale to the London 2012 opening ceremony. It was also one of the highlights of an extraordinary 12 months for designer Thomas Heatherwick – who is also the winner of Icon of the year, an award decided by public vote.

Many cultural buildings are created with a civic purpose, but few achieve it as successfully as Jo Noero’s gallery complex in a South African township: a multi-purpose building that brings to life the enduring legacy of the apartheid struggle and provides a focal point for the community.

Few designers get to watch their work being ceremonially paraded up and down the country, but that’s how Ed Barber and Jay Osgerby spent the summer of 2012. The question is, after the “whirlwind” of the Olympic torch, what will they do next?

January Diary 2013 02 January 2013

This month, Los Angeles County Museum of Art celebrates legendary film-maker Stanley Kubrick; over 50 designers from Central Europe are united for the exhibition Common Roots, and the V&A looks at colour and identity in modern architecture. 

The Icon Awards evening 20 December 2012

On 6 December we launched the first ever Icon Awards at an Awards evening for all our nominees, where the winners were announced and presented with their trophies. It was a great evening and our guests enjoyed Ketel One cocktails, Asahi beer and canapés from Ginger Jar Food.

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