Some may call it the first manifesto of the twenty-first century, for it lays down a new way to think about architecture. Others may think of it as the last architectural treatise, for it provides a discursive container for ideas that would otherwise be lost. Whatever genre it belongs to, SITELESS is a new kind of architecture book that seems to have come out of nowhere. Its author, a young French architect practicing in Tokyo, admits he “didn’t do this out of reverence toward architecture, but rather out of a profound boredom with the discipline, as a sort of compulsive reaction.” What would happen if architects liberated their minds from the constraints of site, program, and budget? he asks. The result is a book that is saturated with forms, and as free of words as any architecture book the MIT Press has ever published.
The 1001 building forms in SITELESS include structural parasites, chain link towers, ball bearing floors, corrugated corners, exponential balconies, radial facades, crawling frames, forensic housing—and other architectural ideas that may require construction techniques not yet developed and a relation to gravity not yet achieved. SITELESS presents an open-ended compendium of visual ideas for the architectural imagination to draw from. The forms, drawn freehand (to avoid software-specific shapes) but from a constant viewing angle, are presented twelve to a page, with no scale, order, or end to the series. After setting down 1001 forms in siteless conditions and embryonic stages, Blanciak takes one of the forms and performs a “scale test,” showing what happens when one of these fantastic ideas is subjected to the actual constraints of a site in central Tokyo. The book ends by illustrating the potential of these shapes to morph into actual building proportions.
About the Author
François Blanciak is an architect and Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo. He has worked for architectural firms in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, and New York, with such architects as Frank Gehry and Peter Eisenman.