While mostly the direct result of human habitation, these "subnatural forces" are nothing We are conditioned over time to regard environmental forces such as dust, mud, gas, smoke, debris, weeds, and insects as inimical to architecture. While mostly the direct result of human habitation, these "subnatural forces" are nothing new. In fact, our ability to manage these forces has long defined the limits of civilized life. From its origins, architecture has been engaged in both fighting and embracing these so-called destructive forces. Each chapter provides an examination of a particular form of subnature and its actualization in contemporary designpractice.

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No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher, except in the context of reviews. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected in subsequent editions. When I began, my advisors suggested that I investigate contemporary literature for existing texts and images related to the concepts of nature in both architecture and urbanism.

They encouraged me to search far and wide, to dredge historical and contemporary architectural, urban, and geographic literature, exhibitions, and websites. The results of mining these secondary sources were collected in files. Categorizing what I had encountered, I found myself drawn to many peculiar things, much of it overlooked in the more general discussion of what might be termed natural architecture.

Such hoarding of information typifies the earliest stages of any research project, and these efforts are usually pitched and forgotten as research and a serious thesis take shape. When I was finishing my dissertation an exploration of nature in modern buildings in New York City in the s , I received a letter from Princeton Architectural Press inviting me to develop a new book on nature in architecture.

Initially I assumed that I would turn down this opportunity and instead focus on publishing my dissertation, but I soon realized that my collection of quotes, images, and contemporary projects on the subject of nature and architecture was a modest treasure. I had amassed a considerable amount of information that, as a whole, is simply not discussed in contemporary debates on the intersections of architecture and nature. I realized that this material on smoke, exhaust, dust, the heat of crowds, and mud addressed a type of nature that was wholly undertheorized, underdiscussed, and undervisualized in architecture.

It seemed that my secondary material was, in fact, worthy of revisiting. The sum of this material is gathered here. This book explores contemporary and historical imagery and writings, identifying a new material-aesthetic between architecture and nature.

If the supernatural is a world of miracles, a religious world debris , or uncontrollable weeds, insects, and pigeons. We can above nature, and the natural is the world in which human society is contrast these subnatures to those seemingly central and desirable located, then the subnatural is the realm in which we can barely forms of nature—e.

These latter exist in the state that we currently conceive ourselves, both socially forces are generally worked into the forms, practices, and ideas that or biologically. While describes the limits in which contemporary life might be staged. It several books examine the historical engagement between architec- is thus no coincidence that subnatures are generally marginalized in ture and these more normative forms of nature, this book is the first architecture.

When they appear in architectural thought in a nonmar- to uncover the story of the subnatural in architecture. But the pigeons, as metaphors for a socially liberated architecture or con- subnatural is not the apocalyptic edge of society. Rather, it reveals sidered how buildings might literally incorporate puddles and other another possible form of nature in which we can be something more inundations of water into their forms. More radically, a few contem- or less than is currently possible within our conceptions of nature.

As this book will demonstrate, the story of subnature is deep and architects who seek to remake cities and buildings through the and complex.

Nothing is inherently subnatural in architecture; rather, parameters of a more natural framework based on sustainable prin- these forms arise from a particular set of social and architectural ciples. Subnature also offers an alternative to the emerging vitalist practices.

In numerous books, we have learned to throughout the most progressive contemporary practices. Both terms often of urbanism in many global cities.

I call this approach neo-Victorian describe postindustrial spaces at the peripheries of cities, where because, like the reformers of the nineteenth century, green archi- rusting buildings, weeds, and industrial debris coalesce. Haussmann, the introduction of green building often enhances the Su b n at u r e I n t roduc tio n power of urban wealth in the name of mending a natural relationship. Subnature will not save us from our inequities, but its a homogenous and elite social sphere, to understand how the resto- inherently alienating character enables us to consider how more ration of nature is used to re-establish a specific class-based idea of comforting forms and dynamic images of nature are often used to the city.

The above criticism of green architecture may also be slightly reproduce existing forms of power in society. Antoine Picon we might consider the possibilities of exploiting subnature as a form has already noted that what is often termed field theory, self-organi- of agitation or intellectual provocation. It differs from recent books—such as Earth Architecture, or whose role is to erase all of the stagnancies that stand in its way.

In comparison to the demographic distribution out a new appreciation of these forms based on economy, technol- of green architecture, what I identify as subnatures are primarily ogy, and environmental health. In contrast, Subnature focuses on the experienced as aspects of the seemingly subhuman conditions of historical circumstances that make recoveries of mud and weeds contemporary urbanization and its subcultural peripheries. They interesting and aesthetically powerful. I argue that the power of are also those natures that stand against the remaking of the world modern earth buildings or weed-infested landscapes draws from his- into a pulsing circulatory apparatus.

Like the processes described torical ideas and images about these forms of nature. Furthermore, above, these relationships extend back to the nineteenth century. If we shift from London to Paris, materials that decay or show the stains that architecture accumu- we see how, in and , revolutionaries erected barricades to lates over time. In proposing a critical new carcasses.

Within these theories of weathering, environments the power of social and physical transformation and the correspond- appear as fixed and stable systems relative to a dramatically chang- ing, strange appearance of subnature.

In recent subcultural urban ing architectural object. In contrast, subnature 1. Harry Francis Mallgrave the notion that architecture and the environment are produced simul- Architecture, ed. It is that latter aspect that adds to our often troubling Natural Architecture New York: 6. I first heard a critique of experiences of subnature. Princeton Architectural Press, this type during a lecture by Nils Norman at the Maryland Institute Admittedly, Subnature emerges from a complex intersection of 2.

Disgust, and Modern Life life, crowds. In the text of each chapter, I uncover the concepts sur- 3. The relationship between Minneapolis: University of the supernatural and subnatural Minnesota Press ; and Lynda rounding these subnatures in architectural thought, typically moving is partially inspired by Robert Nead, Victorian Babylon: People, from the origin of modern Western architectural theory from the Notes Scholes, Structuralism in Streets, and Images in Nineteenth- eighteenth century to the present.

In emphasizing these last with a particular form of subnature now resonates with contempo- 4. Consider G. Brown and Mark points, I should mention that many rary architectural work. In illustrating these chapters, I chose a few DeKay, Sun, Wind, and Light: of the subnatural historical Architectural Design Strategies and contemporary works in this key images from architectural history, complementing these with New York: Wiley, or more book emerge directly from official, many more from architectural practices of the past fifteen years.

This format locates the book somewhere between an Architecture: An Anthology of their residences. Nevertheless, exhibition catalog and an architectural theory book. It makes these Architectural Theory —, I believe the potential of sub- ed. Kate Nesbitt New York: nature is locked within the idea concepts accessible and useful for the student and professional, and Princeton Architectural Press, of producing forms of nature as it provides both a theoretical-historical backbone and a method for , —; or the book that instruments against the dominant considering the ideas under review.

This book could be the first of McDonough coauthored with Michael appearance of spatial power. Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: 9. Anne Whiston Spirn, The Granite 5. Mohsen Mostafavi and David Exchanging Metaphors, ed. Press , For more on field theory, see Sanford Kwinter, Related Papers.

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Subnature: Architecture's Other Environments

Nalkree Preview — Subnature by David Gissen. At various fully cultivated. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. In his building designs the architect Philippe Rahm draws the dank air from the earth and the gasses sunnature moisture from our breath to define new forms of spatial experience. Asli rated it really liked it Jul 30, SA Can you give a few examples where architecture find it, explore it, and make a building that engages with it! This embrace of pigeons was typified by the rise in construction of dovecots for feudal lords and later by the admiration of their ability to adapt to the new industrialised cities in Europe in literature and popular culture.


David Gissen

In fact, our ability to manage these forces has long defined the limits of civilized life. From its origins, architecture has been engaged in both fighting and embracing these so-called destructive forces. Each chapter provides an examination of a particular form of subnature and its actualization in contemporary design practice. The exhilarating and at times unsettling work featured in Subnature suggests an alternative view of natural processes and ecosystems and their relationships to human society and architecture. In his building designs the architect Philippe Rahm draws the dank air from the earth and the gasses and moisture from our breath to define new forms of spatial experience. In his Underground House, Mollier House, and Omnisport Hall, Rahm forces us to consider the odor of soil and the emissions from our body as the natural context of a future architecture. Subnature looks beyond LEED ratings, green roofs, and solar panels toward a progressive architecture based on a radical new conception of nature.




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