In this book, stories portray the production of our built environment, guided by three characters: Giraffes, Telegraphs, and Hero of Alexandria. Having developed its long neck to reach the leaves of high trees, the giraffe represents the vernacular approach to architecture, in which construction follows forces of nature. The telegraph, in contrast, embodies the modernist paradigm, in which technology reigns supreme and forces nature to adapt. Inspired by Hero of Alexandria, we subscribe to a third paradigm – using technology to optimize nature and, inversely, nature to assimilate technology.

The book is a collection of 13 architecture and urban research projects told as stories. Because stories, to borrow the language of Michel de Certeau, carry out the labor that transforms geometrical, abstract space into a lived space, and because a project should offer the interpretational openness of fiction. Complemented by photos, drawings, and diagrams the narratives guide you through contested contexts as diverse as Dubai, Beijing and Halle/Leipzig, revealing otherwise invisible forces contemporary urban design may utilize. The design concepts appear as tools ready to engage our contemporary urban environment, free of today’s ecological and technological fundamentalism and in favor of experimentation, pleasure, and play.

The introduction to the book is available here.

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