Architect and researcher Kate Popova offers her selection of six recently published books that question why architecture finds itself increasingly unable to find solutions to the problems it sets out to solve.
In X-Ray Architecture, architecture historian, theorist, and professor at the Princeton University School of Architecture Beatriz Colomina explores the impact of medical discourse on architectural practice. She suggests that modernist architecture—usually seen to be formed by the industrial revolution and its discovery of new technologies and materials—was more of a result of tuberculosis, the dominant medical obsession of its time. She examines the underlying conditions of modernist architecture aesthetics, suggesting that it was formed by the tool used to diagnose tuberculosis—the X-ray.
A collection of essays compiled by Angelika Fitz, Elke Krasny, and Architekturzentrum approach the term critical care as a medical life-threatening condition. The book presents 21 case studies covering Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas. Through the interconnectedness of economy, ecology, and labor, the contributors seek to reveal a potential to define architecture as an active agency in the current discourse on the environmental crisis.
This book by Brussels-based studio Dogma—founded by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara—traces the history of limited living units, from early monk cells to contemporary micro-flats, and expands on the critique of modernist housing presented by avant-garde Czech poet and critic Karel Teige. It offers not only a thorough study of a vast amount of architectural projects, but shows how the minimum dwelling runs parallel to the rise of capital and the consequent mobility and precarity of work and life.
Lydia Kallipoliti attempts to build a new understanding of the world by looking at it as a set of closed systems. She examines self-reliant environments by cutting across disciplines, with case studies from Disneyland to NASA’s outer space capsules. Kallipoliti seeks to approach contemporary challenges of the modes of production, recycling, and climate change through architecture of containment and detachment as an inquiry into the human’s spatial and material experience.
Architect and critical theorist Nadir Lahiji brings back the genre of manifesto to challenge the current status quo within architectural discourse. A timely response to the conditions of architecture today, the book looks into lost causes and offers a critique of architecture as an agent of capitalist development.
A collection of essays edited by Anne Kockelkorn and Nina Zschocke traces the systematic shift in the concept of universality across creative practices. The book is an interdisciplinary conversation that emerged from an international symposium held at ETH Zurich, which “investigates the ways in which the changing conceptions, reinterpretations, and destabilizations of the universal and the specific have resonated in the fields of art, architecture, and urbanism.” Kockelkorn and Zschocke present the concept of productive universals as an approach which operates between global models and particular encounters in order to frame the question of a desirable future.