A documentary that leads us through the living tour-de-force that is BIG’s 8 House, a book on design inventions that keep us connected, yet untethered from the office, and a field guide to the creation of the High Line. (See more great design books and films.)
The Infinite Happiness
Film by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine
Living Architectures (85 minutes)
This feature-length documentary leads us on peripatetic tours through 8 House, Bjarke Ingels’ loopy, hummock-like residential complex outside Copenhagen. We trek up its green roof, and down its sloping pathways, which enable cyclists to ride from the ninth floor down to the ground. Along the way, we take in the sights, dropping in on a family dinner, a kids’ birthday party, a subterranean workshop and a variety of residents who are clearly at ease in their surroundings, and happy to call 8 House home.
We meet Per, a retiree who runs a free service that helps neighbours with anything from drilling holes in concrete walls to fixing a toilet. “I have the time,” he says. Another resident wonders aloud of the building, “Is it a social experiment? Is it an Italian village? …Is it just a madman’s creation?” These interviews might instill the impression that Infinite Happiness is not about architecture – but then, the building itself is not just about architecture. It’s about setting a stage for living and building a community, rather than a physical structure. By Erin Donnelly
The New Nomads
Book edited by Sven Ehmann, Robert Klanten, Michelle Galindo and Sofia Borges
Gestalten (hardcover, 224 pages)
Technology means that we are all connected, all the time. If we can be reached anywhere at any time, critics say, how do we get away and take a break? A growing faction of creatives, however, sees our wireless (and driven) society as an opportunity to untether from workspaces and homesteads without severing ourselves from jobs or families.
Itself a form of escapism, this captivating book explores how these “urban nomads” are embracing a unique freedom; and how designers and architects are meeting the growing demands for ideas that allow modern-day hunters and gatherers to live and work anywhere. From a portable meeting room that folds into a sports bag to an experimental off-grid micro-house by Renzo Piano – even a teeny public pool in a remote spot in the Mojave Desert – their imaginative approaches to portable place-making successfully satisfy those with unplugged wanderlust. By Kendra Jackson
The High Line
Book edited by Laura Loesch-Quintin
Phaidon (hardcover, 454 pages)
From the moment its first section opened in 2009, the High Line park captured the hearts of millions of walkers, sightseers and joggers, by adding 160 hectares of public green space to downtown Manhattan along an old railway line, high above street level. In the years since, the project has evolved with the addition of ever more arts and cultural programming, stories and embedded history, and it now welcomes over six million people every year. While the park is open to everyone, The High Line’s authors – James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro – have offered us a privileged view of the endeavour as seen through the eyes of its creators.
Arrestingly beautiful and detailed, the volume takes the reader on a journey from the team’s first visits to the site, when graffiti, rusted metal and wildflowers dominated, up to the present day. Through lavish photography, copious technical drawings on extra-wide gatefolds and catalogues of the park’s 400 plant species, this tome ushers readers through the seasons, charting the path on its way to becoming the dynamic cultural icon it is today. By Catherine Sweeney