Re-inventing Construction
3 December 2010

Ilka & Andreas Ruby present their new book Re-inventing Construction with lectures by Anne Lacaton, Lacaton & Vassal; Peter Swinnen, 51N4E; Tobias Wallisser, LAVA and Something Fantastic.

In April of this year, the 3rd International Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction on Re-inventing Construction took place in Mexico City. For three days, 270 specialists from 39 countries — architects, urban planners, engineers, scholars, representatives from business and governments — met in workshops, lectures and guided tours. The event inspired a book of the same name which has just been published by RUBY PRESS. Unlike a conference proceedings publication, “Re-inventing construction” does not reproduce the Forum literally, but develops it further. A number of contributions to the Forum have been selected by the editors to appear in the book, after being substantially revised by their authors. In addition,  the editors commissioned a number of additional authors to produce special contributions for the book. “Re-inventing Construction” goes off the beaten track of the building-as-usual, revealing a staggering potential of available alternatives in construction techniques, building materials, building typologies, programming techniques and development models. In doing so the book both introduces actual new inventions from current research as well as “old” inventions from the rich history of construction, which have either been forgotten or consciously ignored in the name of industrial progress. In order to re-invent construction, thus the message of the book, we need to both discover its unknown future and excavate its forgotten past. This is the subject of the Illustrated Index of Re-inventing Construction, which as a kind of a book inside the book explores the topic in over 230 dictionary entries, compiled and drawn by the Berlin-based architecture office Something Fantastic.

To celebrate the launch of the book, three of its authors shall present their radical approaches to re-inventing construction: Anne Lacaton of the award-winning French practice Lacaton & Vassal talks about their new architecture school in Nantes, and how they managed to realize a building with double the amount of space than was defined by the competition brief without increasing the budget. Peter Swinnen of the emerging Belgian office 51N4E gives an account of their adventure to realise a high-rise building in the Albanian Capital Tirana, describing how they had to completely rework their competition scheme in structural terms in order to make it buildable under the conditions of the Albanian building industry. Finally Tobias Wallisser of the German-Australian office LAVA explains the challenge of creating a public square for the planned eco-city Mazdar in Abu Dhabi and how they managed to cool down common summer temperatures of 50°C to a bearable level by way of an innovative concept for outdoor air conditioning powered by locally-produced solar energy.

Re-inventing Construction. Edited by Ilka & Andreas Ruby. With an Illustrated Index by Something Fantastic. Berlin: Ruby Press, 2010. English, 440 pages, 23.5x17.5cm, 49 EUR
ISBN 978-3-9813436-2-5.

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We would like to thank the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction for their generous support.

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