About Around and About
Around and About Stock Orchard Street, edited by Sarah Wigglesworth, designed by Duffy, (Routledge, 2011)
What was great about working on the design of this book was that the way it had been conceived by the author was anti-convention in publishing terms, which led to a series of illuminating brushes with the world of 21st Century academic publishing. It might not look radical at first glance but it is. Why? Well, publishing is a formula and architectural publishing is no exception. Unuttered and probably unquestioned assumptions about what a book is and should be like seem to abound in publishing. But strangely there appears to be less interest in what a book does (either well or badly), which is to communicate.
One such assumption was that this book was vainglorious. This was because the author made her own house and office the object through which to explore many facets of making a building – design process, project management, construction, environmental performance – as well as the related aspects of ethics, theory and history. Importantly the book also chronicles the experiences of being a client, a job-running architect, a project manager, a critic. The fact that the book’s series of essays unflinchingly scrutinises both building and process and that it offers a kind of account of architecture simply not found elsewhere was overlooked by many.
What better antidote could there be to the real vanity inherent in the conventional architectural monograph?