You can make anything out of anything.

For example, the Bits from Bytes 3D printer feeds ABS plastic through a CNC-controlled extruder head, producing the physical version of a complex NURBS surface. Rapid prototyping allows for continuous iteration between the virtual and the real.

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How about a house out of trash?

Scraphouse, 2005

Built with Public Architecture for World Environment Day in front of San Francisco City Hall, Scraphouse was toured by more than 10,000 people during the four days it was open to the public, and the subject of a National Geographic documentary. The house moved from design through construction in just over six weeks.

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Or a giant pill bottle made of lots of little pill bottles?

Beinecke Plaza Installation, 2007

Built from over 2,700 individual pill bottles, the installation (promoting free AIDS medication) was commissioned by the advocacy group Students Allied for Essential Medicines. The bottles were strung onto wires fastened to a plywood base, held every seven courses by aluminum rings, then tensioned.

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Architects without

In his 1964 MoMA exhibition/book Architecture without Architects, Bernard Rudofsky cataloged centuries of vernacular buildings "produced not by specialists but by the spontaneous and continuing activity of a whole people." Architecture, as both a profession and an institution, was being condemned as inwardly-focused, self-interested and elitist. Similar sentiments followed, from Hans Hollein ("Everyone is an architect. Everything is architecture.") and Peter Cook ("The prepackaged frozen lunch is more important than Palladio."), among others.

Whereas Rudofsky was asking whether architecture needed architects (it did not), this issue asks, fundamentally, whether architects need architecture. And if architects do not need architecture, what do they need? Maybe little more than a problem to solve. In that case, disciplinary anxiety over what architecture is or can be, or to whom it 'belongs' becomes secondary to the training and thought processes that are specific to the discipline.

The term 'architecture' has been hijacked and there is no going back; Google searches result more often in computer science articles than anything that relates to buildings. But that is the point; architects do not need architecture to be theirs alone.

The rise of information technologies over the past few decades has significantly decentralized the power traditionally held by governments, corporations, professional organizations, and cultural gatekeepers. Blogging has challenged the newspaper, cheap video cameras and YouTube have challenged Hollywood, and open-source coding has challenged the big software companies of the world. The relationships between producers and consumers are continually being renegotiated, and architecture can only hold out for so long.

- Exerpt from Crit 69: Architects without Architecture (Washington, DC: American Institute of Architecture Students, 2010), edited by Zachary Russell Heineman

Maybe some office space inside scaffolding?

Urbantine - Tent London, 2008

Cities have expanses of scaffolding that lie empty before workers arrive or after they have passed to higher levels. The proposal repurposes this scaffolding as flexible office space by creating a plug-in module that can be used on a short-term basis.

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Or a heraldic shield using modern fabrication techniques?

Y.S.o.A. RE-SHIELD, 2010

The Yale School of Architecture shield becomes the site of heraldic intervention. Symbolic images (martini glasses and eye glasses) are manipulated to produce heraldic charges, identifiable as such only on close inspection. The 'blazon', or descriptive text, becomes important as a best effort to convey the graphics through language.

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The Romans invented concrete to reconfigure space and light

Rome sketchbook, 2009

A month spent in Rome as part of a field-drawing course resulted in a new understanding of the genius of the Romans, who created building typologies over 200 years ago that persist up through the present.

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Perspecta 46: Error
Yale Architectural Journal

Buildings have always been plagued by glitches, from the notorious collapses of Gothic cathedrals to engineer William LeMessurier's timely structural retrofit of the Citigroup building in 1978. The enduring fascination with design blunders is evinced by the popularity of the Pisa Campanile and books such as Why Buildings Fall Down. But perhaps these are only the most spectacular examples of a condition that bedevils every project; as Stewart Brand sighs, "All buildings are predictions. All predictions are wrong." Can the discontents of contemporary architecture really be 'debugged,' or is the elimination of error a hopelessly utopian aspiration?

Error has stood as both an indictment of failure and a provocation for improvement. In the 19th century, subjective ideas of taste gave way to an empiricism based on statistical distributions, particularly around the 'normal' curve. Modernization created 'risk societies' rife with 'manufactured' accidents that feature prominently in the public imagination. In the post-modern moment that followed, one strategy of the avant garde was to stray from reality and to embrace error for traction, in the form of follies, fictions, and purposeful aberrations.

Today, the ever-increasing complexity of buildings compounds the proliferation of errors, even as, in many cases, space has become more generic. In a networked society where the ultimate attribution of organizational responsibility is often impossible, the desire to quantify and control error has become pathological. Intentional errancy is being re-examined as a survival tactic under multinational capitalism and as an opening onto productive multiplicities that can overcome the hangups of linear thinking.

Indeed, architects might be the consummate 'errorists,' trained to realize their own intentions precisely but not to judge the validity of these intentions. (This mindset may explain why global warming and other large-scale societal errors often escape the discipline's focus.)

- Exerpt from Perspecta 46: Error (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2013 [forthcoming]), edited by Zachary Russell Heineman, Joseph Clarke, and Emma Bloomfield

Venetians turned a marsh into a center of trade

Advanced Studio, Peter Eisenman, 2010

Yale School of Architecture

Once a major entry into the city, the Canareggio Canal was superceded by the train and auto bridges built by the Austrians in the 19th century. The proposal reinvigorates the canal with a multi-use civic program.

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Mumbai could use a skylobby 120 meters high

Mumbai tower competition, 2008

Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam

Designed for an Indian developer, this slim 300m, 78-story tower accomodates retail, hotel, and serviced apartments, and provides a large skylobby space that serves multiple uses. An outrigger structural system obviates the need for columns at the perimeter.

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Sometimes it helps to have a plan.

Indy 500 drafting, 2010

Entertainment Sports Programming Network

For their coverage of the Indy 500, ESPN wanted drivers to discuss their "blueprints" for success. Stills from b-roll footage were used as the basis for drawings that could be used for fade-ins and fade outs.

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