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Disappearing act.

DISAPPEARING ARCHITECTURE: FROM REAL TO VIRTUAL TO QUANTUM

Edited by Georg Flachbart, Peter Weibel. Basel: Birkhauser. 2005. [euro]39.90

After the heady days of the 1990s, it is now well established that the most fertile field for architects interested in virtuality is in research focusing on Mixed and Augmented Reality--where cyberspace is somehow stitched into the real. This can take many forms: smart materials, remote sensing, computer-aided manufacture, and robotics to name but a few such ways of exploring this area. Disappearing Architecture is a good title for a book such as this. It is divided into parts: Intro, The Infrastructure, The Architecture, Special Reports of Mixed Reality Environments, Summing Up and Compact Extro. The book starts off well introducing various concepts and notions of computing and networking that the authors think will be important to architects in creating the cyberised architecture of the near future. The authors are numerous and include names that are familiar such as Bill Mitchell (MIT media Lab), Hani Rashid (Asymptote Architects, New York), Diller and Scofidio and names that are not known within the architectural context. I was particularly taken with Andrew Daley, Ignacio Cirac and Peter Zoller's essay on 'The Development of Quantum Hardware for Quantum Computing'. However, when we proceed to the architecture it all gets a little pedestrian. Much of the architectural work in the book is well known, some actually now quite old. For me these schemes for buildings and interiors which are obviously meant to astound, titillate and refresh my tired old reactionary understanding of architectural space, all look a bit old-fashioned and above all mutely clumsy. This seems like a swiftly composed book, starting well, but the architects often fail to deliver a substantial denouement. The technologies described here could be used to create whole new areas of architectural protocols, spatial tactics and epistemologies, but architects seem content on continually going over the same tired blobby blinkered ground. This book has its heart in the right place and like many books of its genre will fly off the shelf, denouement or not.
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Author:Spiller, Neil
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Words:345
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