A collection of essays on the built environment, we have to admit, is not usually our first port of call for a bit of Friday morning reading. But thanks to ING Media, an architecture, property and deigned-focussed PR agency, and Studio Lowrie, a new publication titled Essays on the Blurred Edges of the Built Environment which features words from Brian Eno, Paolo Antonelli and many more, has got us all fired up for the weekend.
“The built environment is such a frustrating term,” writes ING’s managing director and founder Leanne Tritton in her introduction to the publication. It’s a complex term, she goes on to say, but for the layperson (like us and we’re assuming, you) it essentially encompasses “architecture, planning, construction, development, public policy, economics”. They’re things that, generally, tend to go unnoticed or over the heads of those not involved in the industry but the essays collected in the book prove how interlinked the built environment is with culture, society, the economy and politics.
The book is split into two – inspiration and provocation – each with a dedicated cover, meaning the book flips in the middle. “To some extent,” explains Callin Mackintosh of London-based design studio Studio Lowrie, it plays off the idea that there are two sides to this industry – there are some really amazing examples of good architecture or urban development, and equally some really imperfect ones.” Side A, inspiration, therefore features positive stories and profiles of some successful projects. Side B, provocation, on the other hand, tells of the times things perhaps didn’t go so well, asking some of the big questions still left unanswered. “The idea was that we wouldn’t force feed either to a reader – they could choose one or the other based on their mood,” Callin continues.
With such a strong juxtaposition in the content, Studio Lowrie continued this through to every aspect of its design. It paired two contrasting typefaces (Reckless by Display and LL Brown by Lineto) but also worked to make each article feel unique, like standalone pieces of content.
Feeling somewhere between a contemporary magazine and an architectural journal, Essays on the Blurred Edges of the Built Environment is “playful but also serious and intellectual”. This is largely thanks to Studio Lowrie’s use of colour throughout the book. As well as amplifying the concept of the publication, it aids in constantly changing the pace for a reader. “Some articles take their colour from the text itself, for example using blue on the Simon Kuper piece where he talks about the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers which was taken from their uniforms. Or the bright gradient background for the Dimitri Hegemann article about the Berlin/Detroit techno nightclub scene to give it a bit more energy and movement,” Callin explains.
Ultimately, Essays on the Blurred Edges of the Built Environment is so successful because it subterfuges pivotal issues within great design. In turn, it opens up discussions to a much wider audience, attracting those interested in culture and making them realise not just how important the built environment is, but how rousing it can be too.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.