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VINE VOICEon 3 May 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A collection of computer-generated renditions of perhaps a more optimistic,forward looking and more human architecture than the strict neomodernism of the past 20 years have established as the norm.

I live in Qatar, the wealthiest per capita country in the world, and one of the few places on the planet with the financial resources and youthful brio of an emerging country to really go to town on futuristic architecture. There's a lot of very, very weird buildings going up round here, all of which were only possible because computers could be used to prefabricate parts and calculate structural validity. The King's son here lives in an enormous concrete snail on the beach: A bank is held up by huge artificial tree roots. A library is a green aluminium flying saucer floating on 100 meter tall supports. A skyscraper hotel has an outdoor swimming pool halfway up it's length, ringing the building. Such things are possible if one has the money and the gusto to build them.

So perhaps because of that I see the computer renditions of fantastical organic buildings herein as nearer being actual possibilities than mere fantasy. These buildings, in part inspired by SF videogames and comics,are about confidence and hope for the future, something that's obviously a bit lacking in the West at the moment.

Beyond that, it's a beauifully illustrated and laid out magazine. The supporting articles were a bit too difficult for me to grasp, but it's obviously aimed at professionals rather than casual punters like meself. Lovely.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It was a bold move to launch the redesign of octogenarian Architectural Design magazine with an issue mostly focussing on virtual and, as the cover describes it, "exuberant" designs. As editor Helen Castle perceptively puts it in the editorial, this is a challenging issue that might split the readership but it's true to the spirit of what architecture should strive for, in that it should make you think and open your mind to new spatial and thematic possibilities.

Not being an architect myself, I'll readily admit that for the first half of the issue I spent more time viewing the pictures and captions than reading the articles, but the further towards the end of the issue the more interesting and relevant to me the articles became. I point out "Biodiversity targets as the basis for green design" as being an exceptionally excellent article. That's not to say that the first half of the magazine was not without merit to me. I found some designs, especially those by Jisuk Lee and Steven Ma, inspirational. Some others I hated, but then again these are mostly desktop studies anyway so I'm not likely to walk into a church with body effigies hanging from the ceiling. Every profession has its tormented souls I suppose, but that guy's in need of therapy.

Not all the articles courted my disinterest; I found the ideas about sculpting a building's form based upon environmental factors intriguing. But I also read enough to see that the Editor had made a lamentable oversight - if you're talking about virtual architecture it's sloppy thinking not to include any examples of building design from science fiction and computer game worlds. Those designs I liked so much? Original designs perhaps, but far from original concepts.

My last comment has to be on the redesign of the format. I don't know what it looked like before, but as someone who used to work at a magazine that went through a redesign I do have to give some praise to the new look, as it is crisp, fresh, interesting, and it makes me want to keep picking it up again.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Architecture always struck me as one of the most ego-driven of the creative arts, though not necessarily in a bad way - you're tasked with creating objects that will last in perpetuity and not just for the length of a theatrical run, so you can be forgiven for thinking big. The guest editor of this edition of AD, Marjan Colletti, perhaps needs more forgiveness than most, not so much for the quality of his architecture but certainly for his prose. He stuffs every line with as many buzz-words as possible, references as many concepts (real or imagined) as possible and tries desperately to sound insightful but I'm really not sure who he thinks will be impressed by this self-indulgent drivel. It just comes off as embarrassingly adolescent and pretentious beyond belief and on this evidence I doubt he could tell the difference between an architectural movement and a bowel movement - or that he'd even try.

Luckily his choice of features is much more engaging and there are some exciting and compelling examples of current design thinking elsewhere in this edition. It seems slightly ironic that it takes so much computational muscle to produce designs so inspired by natural forms and phenomenon, but seeing what a great architect can do with these facilities is fascinating. I'd strongly recommend flicking right past Colletti's ridiculous written contributions to this edition, read the pictures (and the other articles) instead, which are certainly worth your time.
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on 17 April 2010
One of the most exciting editions of AD to date! The book is an excellent collection of projects that not only celebrate aesthetics but also demonstrate the sheer plethora of spatial experiences achieved in digitally driven architecture. This book presents works that challenge the status quo of well known parametric or CAD/CAM digital tools, techniques and technologies that are essential for innovation in architectural design today. Well recommended!
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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A slightly tough one to review, as Architectural Design clearly preaches to the converted, of which (not being an architect or designer) I am not one; however, as a concentrated update on where we are in terms of cutting edge creative thinking as it relates to architecture, you could hardly do better.

Wedged full of ideas, concepts and theories as they relate to current architecture, AD evidently leans more towards theory than practice, being the publishing equivalent of a salon: a place where cutting edge thinkers gather to stroke chins and covet egos over the latest ideas.

This particular edition, subtitled Exuberance, covers thinking related to the radical breaking of accepted form. Seemingly inspired by cutting edge computer graphics programs and mind-bending advances in movie C.G.i, the line of thinking would appear to be a whiplash reaction to the resurgence of the Modernist clean lines and minimalism that has influenced all other aspects of contemporary presentation. The buildings suggested, and the discussions of how to bend (literally and metaphorically) materials to exceed general expectations is hugely engaging, if a little dense at times.

As a former degree art student, I enjoyed taking time with AD, but will admit that some of it was hard going to say the least. In terms of who might enjoy AD, based on this edition, I'd say a copy of a year would be good for further and higher educations classes; and if anyone fancies a walk on the wild (thought) side, this is very much the place to visit. Equally, AD would serve as an intense update for those involved in graphic design or production design for films and/or animation.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I couldn't get along with this issue of AD at all. It's an issue that will openly divide the readership but I fell on the wrong side of the fence.

AD falls part-way between being a book and a magazine. The first 100 pages are the unique, guest-edited special, bringing together a selection of different writing on one theme, then the final 40 pages are what you'd think of as a magazine- a selection of broad news articles and features about the latest design 'stuff', which feels much more like a magazine though it does not contain adverts.

It's the main bulk of this issue, "Exuberance", that I couldn't get on with. The whole thing was to architecture what some catwalk shows are to fashion- totally detached from the day-to-day ideas of what people wear (or the buildings they build), it's an insane and gaudy fantasy of bright garish pictures accompanied by a lot of frankly pretentious and meaningless drivel about the deeper meanings at play.

I know that makes me sound like a philistine but it's difficult to wade through writing such as "it is the high degree of variation that contributes to an environment that is able to develop the most qualitative difference in the morphological continuity of the project" to sift out any worthwhile statement. Guest editor Marjan Colletti's keenness to invent his own buzz-words like 'ornaMental' and 'pOrnamenation' is bordering on self-parody, surely. By the time you reach CJ Lim's writing on smartcities, talking about how many people will die of starvation in 2030, you wish without a hint of irony that some of these intelligent minds had spent more time fixing more important problems.

Somebody I once knew, a member of the RIBA, referred to AD as "the comic", I guess because of the inevitably of just flicking through and looking at the pictures. There are some very interesting images in here- sometimes the student work from courses that the writers teach on is more interesting than the writer's work. However a surprising number of them are gaudy, ugly, over-colourised messes, that look like they could have been rendered twenty years ago when CAD was still a novelty. With its obsession with Rococo and Baroque, the whole "Exuberance" section is totally lacking in real style or substance.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 May 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It started badly. In fact it started very badly. You will notice the shape on the front of this edition of Architectural Design Magazine masquerading as an ident. It immediately reminded me of the aura which precedes a migraine headache. Such an aura grows and grows until I am unable to see past its effervescent luminance and must be seated in a darkened room for forty minutes.

Added to that as soon as I ripped apart its cardboard envelope there was an immediate association with Jaguar car brochures. Having owned an X-Type, I knew what bad design costs. And the Contents page did not bode well. Difficult to orientate on exactly who or what is inside. The top-right-side page completely missed my attention.

Then I read a couple of articles and was most impressed. 'Emergence and the Forms of Metabolism' by Michael Weinstock gloried in the scientific language of centralism in life forms for defence and communication. I saw a dvd rental of Avatar [DVD] [2009] recently which could be a film of his article. It left me with a question: is environment only the words we choose to describe it?

As if by dynamic interchange of spurious accounts I was drawn to an emboldened article by Herman Diaz Alonso. 'Exuberence, I Don't Know; Excess, I like' is the case for architecture as 'sort of a game.' I recently reviewed One Planet Communities: A Real Life Guide to Sustainable Living by Pooran Desai with his architecture defiantly attached to a real life living space. Yet here is the ugly beauty of the exuberant architect creating in excess to arouse, to stimulate; to embrace. I loved the comparison with medicine's 'discovery' of our insides. Beneath the skin, around the fluids, fluent shapes, solid entities. And then the words have images. Do Alonso's images have words? He tries to avoid them. Succeeds.

As for the pictorial displays spread across its pages. They lack distinction. Worse than that. They think they're different. That is what Bernini has. Don't they see?
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VINE VOICEon 21 April 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am coming into this review as someone who studied virtual reality at university. But that was a million year ago but I still like to keep my hand in and see what can be done. In truth the field has progressed immensely in the last 10 year and VR has progressed from a simplistic polygonic graphical representation has evolved into a staggeringly beautiful photorealistic representation of the spaces which architects would like us all to work in.

This is a relaunch of an 80+ year old journal of architecture called "Architectural Design" or AD. Basically this is a book of articles from some of the leaders in the field who are imagining and realising great things. Here we see how modern architects are embracing an "exuberance" of design to create new spaces. This is worth buying for the art work alone.

However this journal goes deeper than mere pretty pictures. We have here a set of articles which look at what VR does for architecture with pieces written by luminaries in the field such as Peter Cook and Wolf D Prix. For example, Peter designed the Pavilion for the Botanical Garden in Japan among many other very famour landmarks. The insight and futurist looking thought here really is amazing and whilst we see images here which engineering cannot yet create, boundaries are receeding and one day these buildings will be possible

For anyone interested in where our architecture is going, especiall if you have an interest in computational representation of imaginary spaces I know that you will love this.
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on 28 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I approached this not entirely sure what I should expect, but very much hoping for an interesting read on architecture, and the potential for some nice photography and design, perhaps not entirely understanding the target aimed at by the AD writers.

Architectural Design is a periodical text not unsurprisingly based on Architecture - each issue guest written by a notable person in the subject of that particular issue. With a title like 'Exuberance: New virtuosity in contemporary architecture'' though perhaps I should have been able to guess that far from the interesting read I was hoping for an an engineer, this very much seems to be a piece full of 'art' speak and buzzwords that skipped entirely over my head and really aimed at professional architects working in the field, not interesting bystanders in the way that a non-scientist can find interest in New Scientist or the average person can appreciate National Geographic.

Perhaps an error on my part, but for me at least Exuberance pretty much fell flat - well designed, nice photography and great quality, but just not of a subject matter the average person can find too much interest in should they not already be very interested in architecture. I will admit that I cannot comment on whether other issues may be more open for the average reader, but this one at least in my opinion wasn't.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have thoroughly enjoyed browsing through this book about architectural design, and the virtuosity that can be found within it.

What the book presents are ideas about what buildings might be if architects were given complete freedom; it is virtuosic in that sense, and there is boundless enthusiasm that comes across within the designs.

I am a keen photographer, and the shots have provided some inspiration to me on how to photograph buildings in a more innovative way.

I have a passing interest in architecture, so this book has been an education. Sure, some articles might be a bit beyond the novice -- like myself -- but in this sense it teaches, which is a good thing.

With all the new buildings going up all the time, and some that are not very great at all, at least this magazine might be a super forum for architects to show what better things might be around the corner.
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