Tech reads

It's a mixed bag of books this month

Architectural Intelligence: How designers and architects created the digital landscape

Molly Wright Steenson, MIT Press. 320p HB £27.95

Information scientist Dan Klyn’s comment that ‘most folks understand that if you want to build something remarkable, yet inhabitable and usable, the person you call is an architect’, goes to the crux of Steenson’s argument here: the premise that architectural learning and its thought processes directly translate into information architecture as a way of ordering and accessing information virtually. But the author doesn’t stop there. The assumption is prefigured with visionary architects of the 60s and 70s like Cedric Price, whose largely unbuilt designs attempted to imagine the connections of physical space with the virtual realm. Christopher Alexander’s ‘Pattern Language’ was just the start. A dense but informative read on this unreported facet of architectural history.


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Robot House: The new wave in architecture and robotics

Peter Testa, Thames & Hudson. 336p HB £34.95

While the foreword of this book is written by heavyweights – ex SCI-Arc principal Eric Owen Moss and FORM’s Greg Lynn, I have to admit some confusion as to who the target audience for this book would be. For once it moves beyond the author’s preface and introduction, the book suddenly changes into something close to a form of graphic novel. With 1,600 illustrations, almost every page then becomes completely image led with a single line of continuous text that runs throughout – almost unbroken – although there are brief text introductions to the sub-chapters under the themes of Instrumentation, Representation and Fabrication. Finishing with Testa’s essay ‘Polyspherical Architecture’, this book seems driven more by image than content.


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The Modern Timber House in the UK: New paradigms and technologies

Peter Wilson, Arcamedia. 230p PB £35

A cynic might be tempted to view this publication as an extended press release for Wood for Good, which commissioned the book and from whose conferences it has been compiled, but that would be a bit dismissive – it turns out the volume is actually a comprehensive state of the nation address by the timber construction industry as to where the UK stands in timber design and technology. After an introduction outlining the context of the industry, the author breaks the book down into the various technologies available, and then into typologies. It’s a large format text and is copiously illustrated, although it would have helped to have technical details included in project descriptions. Good for getting inspired by timber.

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