Book Review: Digital Architecture – Passages Through Hinterlands

Digital Architecture – Passages Through Hinterlands, by Ruairi Glynn and Sara Shafiei (Available on Amazon UK and USA.)


In one of the authors’ own words: Digital Architecture: Passages Through Hinterlands, is a collection of the latest, provocative projects from the field of digitally-enabled architecture. Oscillating between the analog and the digital, from concept to realisation this is a book that maps process.

The book covers a spectrum of London’s leading graduates and young practices, featuring projects from the Architectural Association, Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), University of Westminster and Royal College of Art, and case studies and interviews with architects including Amanda Levete Architects, Plasma Studio, JDS Architects, sixteen* (makers), Horhizon, marcosandmarjan, Mette Ramsgard Thomsen, Philip Beesley, David Greene, Samantha Hardingham, Usman Haque and Neil Spiller.

johanv.jpgJohan Voordouw, Printed Aedicules

Copyright_VirgilioFerreira1.jpgMarcos & Marjan, Lisbon Book Fair, 2009

I’ve stopped counting the books about digital architecture a while ago. However, because Passages Through Hinterlands is one-of-a-kind both for its focus and its style, it complements perfectly the volumes that are quickly overcrowding my book shelves. Following the exhibition and conference that took place in London last Autumn, Passages Through Hinterlands gives an informed and enthusiastic snapshot of today’s digital architecture scene in London (and around.) Why London? The answer lies in the past and the present of the city. London was the city of avant-garde architect Cedric Price, cybernetician Gordon Pask, CAD pioneer John Frazer, it’s the city of Archigram. Nowadays, a few schools and visionary architects have turned the Brit capital into a beacon of an architecture that combines speculation, innovation and digital tools.

Both young graduates and architects of international fame are given space in the book. Some of the projects are rather pragmatic, others present allegorical and audacious scenarios. Most of the architects have been invited to put the spotlight on one particular work. 7 others explain their practice and vision in interviews or conversations while a few more get to detail the workshops they’ve conducted around the world.

Digital Architecture – Passages Through Hinterlands is a smart, laid-back and unique book. No heavy theory nor daunting tech explanations, just clear texts that are as informative and engrossing as the topic they address is complex. Bonus! The images! They are just the way we like: plenty and as big as the surface of the paper allows. Go and have a look at this preview of the first 40 pages if you doubt my word.

55-02_side_view.jpgSixteen* (makers) (with Stahlbogen GmbH, 55/02, 2009

Jordan_Hodgson.jpgJordan Hodgson, Celebration of the Splendour of the Workhouse, Rapid prototype

greenesamantha.jpgItinerant battery-powered coastal terrain by David Greene of Archigram and Samantha Hardingham, part of the L.A.W.U.N.* Project

nick-01-450x601.jpgNicholas Szczepaniak, Defensive Architecture