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The special English-language issue “Legislating Architecture” explores how architecture is shaped by societal regulatory systems and law. This issue takes the film of the same name directed by Arno Brandlhuber and Christopher Roth, their submission to the 15th Architecture Biennale in Venice, as its point of departure.

Roth and Brandlhuber’s documentary shows excerpts from conversations they conducted with a broad range of architects on the subject of legislating architecture, published here in their entirely. In collaboration with Brandlhuber and Tobias Hönig, ARCH+ has proceeded to delve much deeper into this topic. The German version of this publication has the subtitle “Gesetze gestalten!” which can be read as both a declaration that laws design, and an exhortation to design laws. This phrase suggests that architecture isn’t only determined by regulations, but that it too has the power to create regulations itself.

After an introduction to the topic, we work through a series of case studies––largely based on the work of Alex Lehnerer––that explore how law shapes the built environment and the practice of architecture. Why do cities look the way they do? How is this informed by law? And how can architects and planners start appropriating regulations like zoning and building codes, treating them as pro-active instruments and design tools, rather than obstacles? How can we understand the confrontation with regulation as a creative endeavor––“not as remainder, as if creativity occurs despite regulation, but instead as operator, as if creativity occurs within regulation,” as Nick Beech writes in the lead-out of this issue?

In the final part, we investigate the phenomenon from the opposite point of view, and ask to what degree design can produce laws. This line of argument is an exhortation to understand the designing of rules as an integral component of architectural practice. Can architects influence the conditions that govern their own practice? Can we envision an empowered architecture that challenges the status quo by being a catalyst for renegotiation?


Ed. by Nikolaus Kuhnert, Anh-Linh Ngo, Arno Bradnlhuber, Tobias Hönig

ISBN 978-3-931435-34-9


With contributions by: Nikolaus Kuhnert, Anh-Linh Ngo, Arno Brandlhuber, Tobias Hönig; Ursula Achternkamp, Marc Angélil, Christina Antiporda, Georg Augustin, Baukuh, Alessandro Benetti, Nick Beech, Gabrielle Brainard, Charlotte Cassel, Adam Caruso, Justine Chaney, Cameron Cook, Nancy Couling, Sophie Duvernoy, Tom Emerson, Sebastian Ernst, Isabella Fera, Matthew Festa, Lucy Finchett-Maddock, Mirko Gatti, Mariam Gegidze, Andreas Geisel, Colin Gordon, Tobias Gruber, Wilfried Hackenbroich, Kat Hausler, Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm, Waltraud Indrist, Max Kaldenhoff, Katharina Kaufmann, Christian Kerez, Theresa Kraus, May Koot, Léopold Lamber, Alex Lehnerer, Gaetano Licata, Mathilde Lind Gustavussen, Steven Lindberg, Büro LS Anderson, San-Hwan Lu, Sara Lusic-Alavanja, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, Niklas Maak, Rob Madole, David Manjavidze, Mike Meiré, Vincent Meyeer-Madaus, Gillian Morris, Martin Murrenhoff, Nicole Opel, Macus Owens, Stephan Redeker, Achim Reese, Jacob Reidel, Marcos L. Rosa, Liam Ross, Christopher Roth, Christine Rüb, Robert Scarano Jr., Luigi Snozzi, Matthias Spielvogel, Martino Stierli, Martin Tessarz, Tobias Tschense, Stephan Trüby, Quang Tuan Ta, Kai Vöckler, Imke Woelk, Jens Wolter, Anna Yeboah