The Articulate Surface: Ornament and Technology in Contemporary Architecture

Ben Pell


Ornament is currently acquiring a new status in architecture. Parametric design and digital production of building components are radically altering its role. The free forms of ornament are no longer antithetical to the constructive geometry of a building; rather, both are designed and produced according to the same logic and using the same tools. The old opposition between structure and ornament has been eliminated. This opens up a wealth of new possibilities of interaction between function and decoration, volume and surface, load-bearing structure and building skin. This book gives a systematically structured account of the technologies employed and the resulting types of ornament, along with the finishing methods and strategies of application. Decorating and patterning, perforating and cutting, layering and coating, forming and pouring, stacking and covering are presented using forty built examples of international contemporary architecture. The author’s highly qualified inspection and classification of the new technological possibilities are supplemented by reports on the experiences of architects with particular expertise in the area of advanced ornament: Sam Jacob of Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT), London; Andreas Hild of Hild und K Architekten, Munich; and Alejandro Zaera-Polo of Foreign Office Architects, London.

RRP £70

Basel 2010, 26.7 x 24.5 cm, fully illustrated, 192 pp. Hardback.


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