March 21, 2007
by Canadian Architect
Atlas of Novel Tectonics, a book by internationally recognized architects Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto, has won two prestigious awards: The Jan Tschichold Prize for Best Designed Swiss Books 2006 and The Gutenberg International Prize of Leipzig Goldletter – 1st Prize. The Jan Tschichold Prize will be awarded at the opening night of the exhibition – The Best Designed Swiss Books of 2006 – on May 12th at the Design Museum Zurich and The Gutenberg International Prize will be awarded at The Leipzig Book Fair on March 23rd.
Atlas of Novel Tectonics addresses the intersections and interplay between architecture and culture across a series of 67 short, non-linear chapters. The manifesto offers insights into a cross-section of disciplines, including aeronautics, art history, cooking, mathematics, and biology, and examines the ways in which such divergent practices migrate into architecture and back out into the cultural field.
Much of our work is collaborative, and thus the concepts laid out in the book mirror that, said Reiser. The Atlas is a manifesto in the classic sense. It is deliberately open-ended so that completion happens elsewhere. Its concepts are meant to spark new directions in the work of those who pick it up whether it is a work of art, of architecture, or of thought, said Reiser, citing Ceninis Craftsmans Handbook and Brillat-Savarins classic Physiology of Taste as inspirations for the atlas.
Reiser and Umemotos understanding of architectural design as a series of problem situations serves as the books point of departure. Each chapter in Atlas of Novel Tectonics functions as an argument, as well as a meditation on a particular topic, re-contextualizing it within the practice of architecture as a provocation to a wider culture.
Research for Atlas of Novel Tectonics was supported by grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Princeton University Committee on Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the New York State Council for the Arts.
Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto have practiced as Reiser + Umemoto RUR Architecture P.C. since 1986, receiving awards such as the Chrysler Award for Excellence in Design in 1999 and in 2000 the Academy Award in Architecture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The firm’s 1990 study of the New York State water supply and Croton Aqueduct corridor, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, established the firm as specialists in large-scale, infrastructural urban developments. In 1998 and 1999, the firm developed a proposal for the East River front of Manhattan, as well as being selected as one of the five participants in a competition focusing on the West side of Manhattan sponsored by the International Foundation for the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The firm has been involved in many invitational international competitions; as part of United Architects, they were one of the six teams to be selected to design for the World Trade Center competition. In 2004, RUR won first prize in an international design competition for the Alishan Tourist Infrastructure project in Taiwan. Slated to break ground later this year, Reiser + Umemoto is currently developing construction documents for the project. Most recently, RUR broke ground on 0-14, a 22-storey office tower in Dubai.