The following is an excerpt from Sean Lally’s The Air from Other Planets, A Brief History of Architecture to Come. The book introduces the reader to an architecture produced by designing the energy within our environment (electromagnetic, thermodynamic, acoustic, and chemical)– an architecture that exchanges walls and shells for a range of material energies that develop its own shapes, aesthetics, organizational systems, and social experiences. Energy becomes its own enterprise for design innovation; it becomes the architecture itself.
One of architecture’s primary acts is to define the spatial boundaries that organize and hold specified activities within them. The behavioral properties of the materials used to make that boundary not only influence the physical characteristics of that space (maximum height, span, aperture sizes), but also determine how the human body perceives and senses those boundary changes (opacity, transparency, acoustics), which then informs the behaviors and movements of the individuals using the space. This definition of boundaries is one that architects have continually tested and subverted as new materials, construction methods, and social trends have emerged over the centuries. It follows that if energy could be controlled and deployed as physical boundaries that define and organize spaces that the human body can detect and recognize, wouldn’t that be architecture? These new building materials would only need to demonstrate that they could absorb the “responsibilities” of boundaries—able to determine spatial hierarchies, provide security, hold aesthetic value, etc.—for them to be called architecture. Current trends just on the periphery of the discipline that could make this a possibility only need to be integrated through the lens of the architect to see their potential.
Torre David, a 45-story skyscraper in Caracas, has remained uncompleted since the Venezuelan economy collapsed in 1994. Today, it is the improvised home to more than 750 families living in an extra-legal and tenuous squat, that some have called a “vertical slum.”
Urban-Think Tank, the authors of Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities, spent a year studying the physical and social organization of this ruin-become home. Richly illustrated with photographs by Iwan Baan, the book documents the residents’ occupation of the tower and how, in the absence of formal infrastructure, they organize themselves to provide for daily needs, with a hair salon, a gym, grocery shops, and more.
Join the authors and editors of Lars Müller Publishers for a rare book signing opportunity with architects Wang Shu, Sou Fujimoto, and Steven Holl on August 28th at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale! This event will kick off the exhibition Lars Müller Publishers – Book Fever, which will feature sixty publications – new releases, bestsellers, milestones from the past, and rare treasures – for the public to explore.
Founded thirty years ago, Lars Müller Publishers’ carefully edited and designed publications on architecture, design, and contemporary art has lead them to become a renowned international publisher. One milestone you may remember was their release of Peter Zumthor’s Works (1998), which was the first survey of the oeuvre of the architect now known worldwide that set new standards for the monograph as a book genre.
Continue after the break for more details on the book signing and exhibition.
Dominique Ghiggi, a landscape architect and academic assistant at the Institute of Landscape Architecture in Zurich, has published a book examining the changing relationship between man and nature over the course of history. The work is perfect for those connected with the environment as it examines tree nurseries scattered across the world and their social, economical and contextual significance.
More about the book after the break.