The Cover of My Book
My forthcoming book — Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments — is now in production with the good people at Princeton Architectural Press. It will be out in about six months. Subnature examines those forms of nature that architects, architectural theorists and historians have imagined in potential conflict with the ideas, forms, and inhabitants of architecture. In this book I examine this idea of subnature from early modernity (1700s) to the most contemporary work. The image on the cover (above) is by Jorge Otero Pailos. It’s his preservation of the polluted dust in a factory in Balzano, Italy. It’s a great image for the cover, as the book contains many projects by contemporary architects, experimental historians (including some material from this site) and experimental preservationists, such as Jorge. Not only does the book feature contemporary work that has never been published before, but I also had a few images from theory books (Cesariano, et. al.) re-photographed for the first time in many years. You are going to see some things that will surprise you and make you think about nature in architecture in new ways.
Although I do not write about this in the book, I always thought of this book as partially related to Mark Wigley’s concepts of deconstruction in architecture. When Wigley developed his concept of architectural deconstruction he positioned it against Le Corbusier’s notion that architecture was “the masterly, correct, and magnificent play of forms under the light.” Wigley attacked all of the assumptions within Le Corbusier’s use of the term “form.” In counterpoint, Wigley advanced a concept of corruption to reconceptualize architectural form-making. I attack the latter part of Corbusier’s definition — its emphasis on the stable, non-human, and external nature (“the light”) — that we understand as a given natural arena for architecture. However, my concept of subnature is not about “corrupting” external nature. Things are a bit more messy now, and perhaps a bit less dialectical.
With a title like “Subnature,” the book features some work you might expect (eg. the disturbing nature visions of R&Sie), but the book is not simply about advancing an “abject” concept of nature. Rather, it examines forms of nature within architecture that are explicitly produced through social and historical processes (and that cannot easily be re-absorbed into those processes). Many of the works in the book happen to be frightening, but others simply operate against any normative concept of nature, and many appropriate various denigrated notions of nature to develop liberatory positions for architecture. Very soon you will be able to pre-order the book from Amazon, and I hope you will.