The strength of this book lies in its accessibility and relevance to contemporary design studios both academic and professional, although the format of dissemination through print suppresses its potential to respond to a topic that changes so quickly. Designers are perpetually bombarded with architectural content through numerous online platforms, and images are consumed at a rate that challenges consumers to retain more than the splash image intended to garner hits or likes. Student design proposals become a mashup of sources without awareness of their lineage, while the professional architect negotiates between desired novelty and an increased pace of professional practice. Additionally, contemporary digital design exists in a situation where generative files are shared extensively, and original authors and/or sources are rarely known or cited. Copy Paste offers a respite from the fatigue created by the cult of originality and instead celebrates transparency in the sampling of content.
As an edited collection situated for both theory and application, Copy Paste is not a linear read but rather a robust assemblage of content collectively positing a convincing argument for an aggressive approach to the use of precedent in architectural design. At times, the strategies seem to be rogue, perhaps nodding to hip-hop culture of the 1980s and ’90s, where content was used without remorse. At other times, application of the methods is more akin to a scientific approach where phenotypes are measured and charted in reference to the controlled and predictable characteristics of the genotype. In either case, the thesis of the book is a fresh approach to composition that does not seek to hide its sources for the sake of a perceived novelty but rather celebrates the genealogy of references to foster innovation through evolution.
Hillel Schwartz, “Ditto,” in Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles (New York: Zone Books, 2014), 211.
J. N. L. Durand, Précis des leçons d’architecture données à l’École Polytechnique (1819; Munich: Uhl Verlag, 1975).
Beatriz Colomina, “Skinless Architecture,” Thesis: Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar 3 (2003): 123.
Mark Lee, Sharon Johnston, Sarah Hearne, and Letizia Garzoli, Make New History: 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial (Zurich: Lars Müller, 2017), 20.