Cyber-Baroque universe

Even architectural experts will take a while to take in the futuristic dare-devilry of Digital Architecture Now. The book features the work of 30-or-so practices and their electronic ideas will leave you fizzing at digital’s ingenuity and newness. It’s hard to know who to praise first – the software writers or the architectural thinkers. Perhaps they’re morphing into each other. Either way, between them they’ve produced a mix of the virtual and natural worlds, the ‘cyberspacial’, as author Neil Spiller puts it. There are Antoni Gaudí forms and lava-lamp blobs. Buckminster Fuller honeycombs sit alongside Art Nouveau curlicues. There are biology and botany, reptiles and flowers, but also industrial and military themes, with buildings reminding you of computer gaming graphics complete with cyborgs armoured with metallic scales. Tobias Klein’s combination of the virtual and the actual produces an architecture of ‘half-reliquary, half-cy-Baroque’, writes Spiller. The images of the Czech Republic National Library by Qua ‘Virarch, the Chicago practice, seem a combination of ovoid balloons and metallic fishing nets. The Blob Wall, by Greg Lynn and Panelite, redefines the architect’s basic building unit – the brick – while Evan Douglis Studio’s Helioscopes for an installation in France look something like a Walnut Whip. Some of the projects featured in the book are built, some are temporary structures, and others are only ideas. All augur a shift in architectural tectonics.

Digital Architecture Now is published on 13 October by Thames & Hudson, priced £29.95

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