Bioreboot - The Architecture of R&Sie(n) by Giovanni Corbellini is published by Princeton Architetural Press, an architecture monograph with a cover that for once represents the book quite accurate. It is ambivalent, for one it draws you in and tickles your interest, but for two contains a strange irritation alongside.
The R&Sie(n) projects are through out fascinating and often surprising. However there are some projects that really stand out. Such for example 'the Invisible House' (2001), built for $160'000 in France. This 'stealth' building is a radical take on landscape, architecture and the debate around integration. As a model type it could almost be compared to 'The Slow House' (1990) by Dillier and Scofidio (http://www.dillerscofidio.com). Or there is also the 'Terra Incognita' (2006) project about 'global warming and the apparition of the island of the albino penguin'. Or the 'Hypnochamber' (2005) a experiment on 'unconscious planning' and participation.
There are also the more flat projects were catchy titles do suggest more than the images or visualisations, such as with the 'Mosquito Bottlenecck' (2003), the 'Aqua Alta' (1998) or the 'Waterflux' (2002/2007) a proposal that was good in the context of early blob architecture, but has lost a lot of it's charm since.
Nevertheless the work of this practice is really pushing the boundaries of architecture and the experiments with space, materials and visualisation draws you in and gives you a buzz for your own work (given you are involved in some sort of creative work). The work is quite poignant described by Bruce Sterling from Wired as '...(they are) exploring what happens when the usual constraints are allowed to fall away and things get wild and loose.' And yes indeed some of the projects go along the line of the book 'Installations by Architects' The thing about the work of R&Sie are the stories they create around each project. It is not simply a house or a space, but a whole world they carefully craft to allow the proposal to happen inside it. The resulting product is then simply the consequence of a logical sequence, beautiful.
The irritation from the front cover continues on the inside and the design of the book can not really catch up with the content. Since the projects are of such experimental nature the representation of them in the book tries to mirror this to some extend, but then also doesn't. This ambivalent and undecided state makes me as the reader really nervous. Only for the 'endlessness... chat' at the very end of the book a different form of representation is found in the form of the portrait orientation of the format rather than the landscape of the rest of the book. The rest is a conventional at times rather dull reporting of projects sorted in categories presented in a linear fashion. It is the sort of book to inspire architecture students starting a new project.
The book, it can be said as a sort of concluding summary, can not quite live up to the content. For which it is worth, though.
Giovanni Corbellini (2009), Bioreboot - The Architecture of R&Sie(n). Princeton Architectural Press, New York