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Atlas of Novel Tectonics Paperback – February 1, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1568985541 ISBN-10: 1568985541 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Any book that starts with an essay on 'The Judo of Cold Combustion' deserves a place on our summer reading list. The authors offer reflections on matter and force, material science, art and architectural history, and the interrelationship of architecture and culture. -- Architect Magazine, July 2007

Reiser and Umemoto are deep and original thinkers and I look forward to a renaissance in their work that fully reflects the wealth of clear ideas that populate this text. -- The Architectural Review, October 2006

This cerebral little manual probes some of the more esoteric aspects of architecture in pursuit of novel approaches to design -- Metropolis, June 2006

This is a book that swims courageously against the tide... it reclaims the autonomy of theoretical discourse in relation to built architecture. That alone makes it an event... Atlas of Novel Tectonics is nothing if not a fascinating collection of finely wrought conceptual miniatures. Most are of Borgesian brevity (or shorter), and there are gems among them. My favourite is the tale of the 'devolved' glass nose of the Heinkel III bomber. -- AA Files, July 2007

About the Author

Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto are the founding partners of Reiser+Umemoto RUR Architecture PC, an internationally recognized architectural firm based in New York City. Their work encompasses a wide range of scales, from furniture design to landscape and infrastructure.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (February 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568985541
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568985541
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

RUR Architecture PC is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary architectural design firm that has built projects at a wide range of scales: from furniture design, to residential and commercial structures, up to the scale of landscape, urban design, and infrastructure.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 46 people found the following review helpful By El Greco on June 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book gets lots of play right now in (big "A") Architecture schools. I'm a firm believer that if your thoughts are clear, your writing is clear. This book embarks on many dialectical examples that are explained with too much "difficult writing" for its own good. Grad students of the world, beware the three DDDs that inspire some of this writing: Deleuze, Derrida and Delanda. They plow enormous fields in complicated patterns and only yield a kernel or two. Ironically, I admire Reiser + Umemoto as architects and am looking forward to a book on their more recent work.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Lohr E. Miller on May 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
An unxpectedly fine book on architectural theory that's rooted not in politics or aesthetics or lit-crit theory, but in the worlds of physics and engineering-- a look at architecture and architectural possibilities based on the sinews of buildings rather than the ideology of architects. I'm an historian by training, and an aficionado of architecture and design theory. Reiser + Umemoto have created a small book that offers a view of postmodern architecture seen through the lens of the physically possible. Anyone who wants to imagine new cities and new styles of building needs to consider the sheer physical constraints of design, and this book is a fine place to start.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sub-Kontinental on May 8, 2009
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Once you sift through the esoteric jargon you'll find that the underlying "big idea" of Atlas is a bit...well, narrow-minded. It relegates the architect to the *singular* role of funny shape maker. Philosophically speaking, I'm not so down with it.

That doesn't mean Atlas isn't worthwhile however. If formalism is your bag, there's plenty of potential to tap. Certainly, it's not an easy read, nor are all of the concepts as profound as RUR would like to think, but there's definitely some provocative ideas contained therein:

"But we have other ambitions for this vitality, which now must enter and find expression in the fabric of matter itself. Let's be clear: it is not the vulgar misconception that architecture must be literally animate...but its substance, its scale, its transitions and measurement will be marked by the dilations and contractions of the energy field."

As is the case with most contemporary architectural theory, you have to do a lot of digging, re-reading and source-referencing to understand the ideas. The prose can be just as high-brow and sanctimonious as the decon philosophers that influenced it (Derrida, for instance). Complex as they may seem, the ideas embedded can be quite provocative not in a life-changing way, but more in a "novel" sort of way.

If you're into form or just want to stay up on theory, then I'd buy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Thomas on December 29, 2010
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This volume renders a comprehensive exploration and analysis of the forces (both sentient and unwitting) that influence the construct of architecture and contemporary design. Thoughtfully organized, elegantly illustrated, - an excellent addition to any designer's library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alex on February 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Highly recommended for those architects who seek to dig deep into the matter of design. In this case, a more fundamental way of thinking about design and thinking itself. Conceptual underpinnings are analyzed in a clear and systematic way, which is very rare in the field of architecture. The abstract concepts become clearer as you go through the book. What is great about this book is the use of diagrams. There are faults and some problems but, this book does contribute to the discourse of architecture through its reformulating what architects and thinkers have learned for the past 20 years (more or less) into a easier-to-digest format. An admirable and respectable work on multiple levels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By form pig on October 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
like a pilot on an early jet flight, you may find it can be a bit hard to breathe - and there will be some inevitably jarring moments as you try to ride this "bullet".

but it is an exhilarating and momentous ride.

buy it - you'll find yourself dreaming of more.

[...]
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Format: Paperback
Great collection of short chapters about architectural components and philosophies. The book's construction itself is fantastic--complete with glued in color plates. Almost a retro feel. (They don't make them like this any more.) Recommended when you're looking for a small, well-made, book on architecture that explores philosophical and physical territory. This would make a great gift.
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15 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Saul Boulschett on October 17, 2007
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Reiser and Umemoto (henceforth R&U) have put together a wonderful role model of a textbook in a field that erroneously prides itself on having NO textbooks -- that is, by having far too many "must-read" books that remain disconnected and often irrelevant to the problem of learning HOW TO GO ABOUT wrapping one's head around this thing called Architecture. Without turgidity, mysticism, pedantry, or pretentious narcissism, the authors elegantly demonstrate one version of architectural head-wrapping: THEIRS. But make no mistake: to call it 'theirs' is only to specify the site of the (unavoidable)subjectivity that propels this kind of demonstration. And the clarity with which this demostration is done is yet another demonstration of the refinement of their subjectivity.

This book, along with those by George L. Hersey, is one of the very few books in the field that can actually help one in reducing the confusion in trying to understand what Architecture as a DISCIPLINE really deals with, so overcrowded it is today with so many extra-architectural issues/agendas. After all, it was never Architecture as such that was confusing or difficult to understand. People with clubby exclusionary motives, aided and abetted by academic survivalists -- the small sort of people Dryden derided as 'criticules'(teeny weeny critics) -- have made the topic into the unnecessarily convoluted intestine that it is today. And given the paucity of well-paying or creatively challenging work for architects in the real world, this nefarious practice of obfuscation will likely continue since "all forms of power are always accompanied by some form of mysticism."
But I digress.

I mentioned George L. Hersey's books earlier as exemplars of clarity.
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