Radical architecture: is this the built environment’s future?
A new book by Phaidon and curator, convenor and author Beatrice Galilee hails the radical architecture of the future through community-focused designs, site-specific and virtual installations, photography essays and traditional architectural projects
Radical Architecture of the Future is a bold title for a book that brings together work that is overwhelmingly real, instead of seductively rendered. The thread that binds this collection of often wildly dissonant projects together is not simply radicalism, but the recognition that contemporary architectural design must engage with the very people it is designed to serve. To showcase these ideals, author Beatrice Galilee has assembled a broad sweep of contemporary design, spanning from community-focused designs, both cultural and industrial, to site-specific and virtual installations and photography essays, as well as traditional architectural projects both big and small.
There are bold juxtapositions, from explicitly political buildings like Heneghan Peng’s Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, Palestine, through to poetic landscaping projects like Junya Ishigami’s Art Biotop Water Garden in Nasu, Japan. There are residential renewal works that add fresh thinking to urgent issues like sustainability. Photographic essays lay bare the beauty, banality and terror of the late-capitalist landscape.
There’s a lot going on within these pages. Radical Architecture of the Future is most successful when it eschews the celebratory and aspirational tone that pervades architectural publishing in favour of provocation and the promotion of hitherto marginalised and overlooked territories. It is a book to challenge preconceptions and expand horizons. Examples include Atelier Masōmī and Studio Chahar’s impressive Hikma Religious and Secular Complex in Dandaji, Niger, and Forensic Architecture’s meticulous graphic analysis of flashpoints within global conflict.
Galilee spent five years as the curator of architecture and design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her prominent role as a curator, convenor, and creator within the architectural field allows her to tap into the currents of change that swirl around the global modern architecture ‘scene’. As well as the ideas on display, the book also chronicles the end of the modernist monoculture, as architecture starts to live through its own reckoning with representation and power structures. §