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Monday, October 08, 2007

Book Review: Synchronizing Geometry

Synchronizing Geometry by Carlos and Borja Ferrater

Barcelona-based Carlos Ferrater has published numerous monographs that focus on his tastefully modern buildings that could easily grace the pages of any glossy publication spouting the latest trends. But the orthogonal designs that many associate with Ferrater, and which find much favor today, are not the only purview of the architect and his collaborators. As this monograph attests, the practice explores geometries much more complex than the right angles of Modernism.
The book presents eleven projects, fitting into geometric descriptions that have found their way into contemporary parlance with the rise of the computer modeling: networks, topographies, folds, ribbons, membranes, and so forth. A few of the projects are built or under construction but most are unbuilt, making this a presentation of work in-progress, work that still must live up to the translation from drawing (or in this case modeling) to building. Not surprisingly, renderings and diagrams predominate, with the occasional model and photograph. Of course this does not detract from the book, as many of these design illustrations are superb, like the various media presenting the Benidorm Seafront, found on the book's cover.
Rather than being merely a presentation of the practice's latest geometrical explorations, aided by the computer and a number of commissions that veer closer to landscape rather than architecture, the book also presents a study of geometry in time by Borja Ferrater, called "Ideographic Resources." The long and generously-illustrated piece grounds the book in the larger use of geometry in Modern architecture, like Louis I. Kahn's City Tower project. Unfortunately the argument is not helped by the fact that most of the designs presented are large, unbuilt designs, as the firm takes on larger commissions and uses geometry as apparently the most important tool at the architect's disposal. While it's a strategy that makes for a quality book and what look to be more-than-decent architecture, it leaves one thinking that there must be more than geometry for architecture to reach its fullest potential.

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