Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: Hunch 13

Hunch 13: Consensus edited by Salomon Frausto
NAi Publishers, 2009
Paperback, 176 pages

About ten years ago on a trip to San Francisco I stopped by William Stout Architectural Books and found the first issue of Hunch buried under a pile of books, hard to find yet worth the search. The tall format book from the Berlage Institute in the Netherlands is a blend of the local and the international, combining contributions from within and beyond the confines of the "post-academic laboratory for design-based research in architecture, urbanism, and other issues related to the built environment." Twelve issues later Hunch is still going strong, with a larger format but a similar Dutch-World scope centered upon a theme, in this case "Consensus: Designing the built environment necessitates intention and choice." Gone are the documentation of Berlage activities (collected in The Berlage Papers), though this leaves more room for directly tackling the subject at hand.
When books and journals take aim at issues of sustainability, technology, and rising social concerns, the topic for the thirteenth issue of Hunch stands out. "How different constituencies work together to make design decisions" might not leap off the page like other topics batted around today, but the theme can be seen as just as important, the backbone for achieving responsible sustainable architecture and urbanism, incorporating new technologies across multiple parties, and determining who is impacted by changes to the built environment and how. Topical issues are found throughout Consensus: Adrian Hornsby posits an end to "starchitecture," Lars Lerup touches upon the growing urban population around the world, George Baird tries to find an idea of the public in its changing realm, Wayne Congar and Troy Conrad Therrien ponder the effects of the economic crisis, and Dietmar Leyk tackles how architects can actually use knowledge from other disciplines. Alongside these topical contributions are in-depth articles focused on specific histories, such as C.A. Doxiadis's relationship with the Ford Foundation, the architecture of Utrecht University, and the Burning Man festival. The wide-ranging collection of essays, interviews, and images has something for everybody, sparking interest around the topic, while making one look forward to the next one.