For more than a century, architects have been addressing the world as a project through speculative designs in an attempt to imagine the future and reframe global issues. Globalisation, the ever-increasing interconnectedness demands action on a worldwide scale and invites a reflection on the profession's responsibilities. The latter is precisely what the book The World as an Architectural Project achieves, through a compilation of world-scale speculative projects of the past century, making a compelling case for the agency of architecture.
The volume, published this year at the MIT Press, is the result of a six-year-long research endeavour and encompasses 50 planet-scale projects, envisioned by some of the architectural thinkers of the 20th century. The authors, Hashim Sarkis, Roi Salgueiro Barrio and Gabriel Kozlowski, explain the scope of their research in the book's prologue, arguing that "in order to introduce propositions about the planet, architecture had to reconsider and expand its own methodological store".
The case studies are wide-ranging and engage with multiple layers of planet-size topics. Among the projects documented in the book are Buckminster Fuller's World Town Plan—4D Tower, Kiyonori Kikutake's Marine Cities, Takis Zenetos's Electronic Urbanism, Élisée Reclus and Louis Bonnier's Terrestrial Globe, Raimund Abraham's Air Ocean City.
The book serves as a means for broadening the architectural thinking and enables new perspectives on global problems. Moreover, it is an appeal for architects to re-engage with these planet-scale issues and re-imagine how architecture operates in the world.