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Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: eVolo Issue 03

eVolo Issue 03: Cities of Tomorrow edited by Carlo Aiello
eVolo, 2010
Paperback, 122 pages



The third issue of twice-yearly eVolo continues with the same format as the first two issues (but in a slimmer page count), with content divided into four sections: News (including the latest Skyscraper Competition that eVolo runs), Opinion, Depth, and Catalog. Likewise the issue is built around a theme, in this case "the future of urban habitat." The projects and imagery that permeates is accurately, yet inadvertently described by Heidi Druckemiller in her text on MAD Architects' Taichung Convention Center in the Depth section (and pictured on the cover): "the integration of contemporary art and digital technology into architecture design and projects that connect the natural and man-made worlds." Yes, that seems accurate when considering the other projects by BIG, Terreform One, UNStudio, Vincent Callebaut Architectures, and others, because the conviction of each project is reliant upon the renderings, in most cases digital and in some cases approaching works of art.

The fact that the magazine is illustrated almost completely with renderings (a few photos are found in the Catalog section, where up-and-coming designers' work is presented, and in Opinion, where critics respond to the issue's theme) is one of eVolo's defining characteristics, one that makes it a strong barometer of contemporary architectural practice. In this issue the theme is particularly broad, so projects range in size from single-family houses outside Kansas City, MO to look ahead to Singapore 2050. It's difficult to reduce the projects and essays to some shared themes or consistent strands, as they are quite diverse. Only a couple of the projects will probably be realized, making the majority of them speculations on future conditions; and there we can witness some commonalities, paradoxically a sense of optimism and uncertainty. The only thing that appears to be certain is climate change and rising waters. Issue 03's highlights include a couple essays on "urban fantasies" and "utopian urbanism," seven urban visions for Australia in 2050, and   I'd love to add my contribution to the Opinion section to this list, but this reviewer opts instead to give that honor to Klaus's great illustration that sits alongside my essay on APIs and Augmented Reality.

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