BCNM Director Nicholas de Monchaus’ book Local Code: 3,659 Proposals about Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities is now out from the University of Princeton Architectural Press! It is available for purchase at the University of Princeton Architectural Press, on Amazon, Indiebound, and your local bookstore!
With three billion more humans projected to be living in cities by 2050, all design is increasingly urban design. And with as much data now produced every day as was produced in all of human history to the year 2007, all architecture is increasingly information architecture. Praised in the New York Times for its “intelligent enquiry and actionable theorizing,” Local Code is a collection of data-driven tools and design prototypes for understanding and transforming the physical, social, and ecological resilience of cities.
As much design speculation as narrative, the book contains 3,659 digitally tailored drawings of designs (by Nicholas!) for vacant lots and spaces in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Venice Lagoon, highlighting how such spaces can play an essential and unique role in providing ecological, social, and cultural resilience. Inspired originally by Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates project, the book has become a graphic and intellectual meditation on cities, networks, data and resilience.
Between these illustrated case studies, critical essays present surprising and essential links between such designs and the seminal work of urbanist Jane Jacobs, artist Gordon Matta-Clark, and digital mapping pioneer Howard Fisher, along with the developing science of urban nature and complexity. In text and image, Local Code presents’a digitally prolific, open-ended approach to urban resilience and social and environmental justice; At once analytic and visionary, it pioneers a new field of enquiry and action at the meeting of big data and the expanding city, focusing on the ecological and social potential of underutilized and unmaintained public land—like that under billboards in Los Angeles, along dead-end alleys in San Francisco, and in city-owned vacant lots in New York City.
The book is the product of six years of work with amazing collaborators, both here at Berkeley, but also in New York, Los Angeles, Venice and even further afield, including a design collaboration on the layout and design of the book with the dutch information-design studio Catalogtree.
“In Local Code, Nicholas de Monchaux stretches the limits of contemporary design practice at the intersection of technology, ecology, and city. At once critical, creative, and technical, the work demonstrates above all the necessity of each domain, and their radical combination, to the practice of architecture at the highest level.”
— Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
“Inquiries like de Monchaux’s illustrate that there is intelligent inquiry and actionable theorizing happening about how patterns might be broken, planning might be more flexible and dynamic, and our visions of space and its functions could expand —and, perhaps, contract.”
— Allison Arieff, New York Times
About the Author
Nicholas de Monchaux is Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UC Berkeley. He is the author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo, winner of the Eugene Emme award from the American Astronautical Society and shortlisted for the Art Book Prize. His design work has been exhibited widely, including at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas, the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, and San Francisco’s SFMOMA. A recipient of the 2013-2014 Rome Prize, he has received additional fellowships from the Macdowell Colony, Hellman Family Fund, Santa Fe Institute, Smithsonian Institution, and Van Alen Institute.