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Publishing as Architectural Practice

Publishing as Architectural Practice

Aling, Michael ORCID: 0000-0002-9714-235X (2017) Publishing as Architectural Practice. Design Ecologies, 6 (1). pp. 86-126. ISSN 2043-068X (doi:

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Appropriating its title from the recent collection of essays Publishing as Artistic Practice (ed. Annette Gilbert, Sternberg Press, 2016) - in which publishing is explored as a recently appropriated form of artistic practice in itself - this article begins by asserting that, contrary to the art world, the act of publishing has always been an integral aspect of architectural practice, arguably dating back to Vitruvius, at which time the architectural publication was founded as a means of authenticating, distributing and subsequently developing architectural discourse and practice. This article focuses on architectural books – the book being architecture’s longest running, most abundant, and most celebrated form of publishing – and book design in particular as a publishing practice. Although there is a considerable existing body of research canonizing the history and development of the architectural book, particularly between the mid-sixteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, the majority of this research has focused on book content rather than book design. The book is still intrinsic to the proliferation of architectural discourse, culture and the profession, but the lack of debate and development around the theories of its form and its futures is limiting the architectural book to become increasingly self-referential as a designed entity. The market-led restrictions imposed by the publishing industry are limiting the architectural book - this is the principal time crime outlined here - the design of the architectural book is in stasis due to the publishing industry: it is stuck in time. This article looks to determine how architectural book designing can be considered as relational to architectural practice, through an exploration of how book design has been theorized as a formal and material interplay and manifestation of spatial ideas – chiefly through the theories of “book usage”, “intermedia”, “topological” and “ergodic” literatures, “visual language” semiotics, and “metamediality”, originating from studies in literature, design, media and comics. Examples from my own architectural book design research praxis are discussed in relation to these theories, with a more thorough examination of three recent book works that are used as an armature to speculate on the potential futures of architectural book design, making and publishing practice. One hopes that this article will arouse debate and encourage more enthusiasm for book works as designed manifestations of spatial ideas. One might even go so far as declaring architectural book designs to be architectural projects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Architectural Books; Architectural Publishing; Book Design; Book Futures; Ergodic Literatures; Metamedia; Visual Language
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Design (DES)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Digital Arts, Research & Enterprise (DARE)
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2021 23:01

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