Softspace: From a Representation of Form to a Simulation of Space Edited by Sean Lally & Jessica Young
          Review By Mario Cipresso

        • In academia, we try to convince young architects that their charge is to design 'space' rather than buildings. A notion that I subscribe to and one of several ideals that 'Softspace' sets its focus on. More often than not, architectural space is residual space. Something left over that exists between structure and conventional architectural systems and form. This is the unfortunate result of our relative inability to quantify and qualify space in the broader sense of the term. This is especially unfortunate when you consider that we only truly experience architecture as you occupy and move through it.

          'Softspace' begins to identify the potential inherent in the use of digital tools to articulate this traditionally intangible space while referring to its precedent and then projecting and suggesting possible futures. To this end, the editors present a carefully selected series of projects and essays in a somewhat linear and accretional manner, rather than topically, that demonstrate the ability of new material understandings to represent new realities.

          The projects are generally of a suggestive and theoretical nature and typically employ new media and digital fabrication techniques. For example, in Sean Lally's SIM Residence, we find an architecture of adaptation that is less concerned with its external appearance than with accommodating varying internal conditions through systems that cycle through periods of activity/inactivity as necessary. Other works from Open Source Architecture, Servo, Ocean North and Gnuform address topics such as 'Dissipative Procedures' to 'Nested Capacities, gradient thresholds and modulated environments'.

          The writing, including chapters by Lars Lerup, Christopher Hight and others is as thought-provoking as the projects. The book operates well as an indicator of the potential trajectory of space making where form accommodates spatial agendas, specifically as it applies to new media and historical precedent.

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