The Architecture of Closed Worlds, Or, What is the Power of Shit?

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Lars Muller Publishers, 2018

19.5 × 26.5 cm, 7 ¾ × 10 ¾ in

352 pages, 340 illustrations


ISBN: 978-3-03778-580-5, English


Written by Lydia Kallipoliti in collaboration with Storefront for Art and Architecture.


What do outer space capsules, submarines and office buildings have in common? Each is conceived as a closed system: a self-sustaining physical environment demarcated from its surroundings by a boundary that does not allow for the transfer of matter or energy. The Architecture of Closed Worlds is a genealogy of self-reliant environments. Contemporary discussions about global warming, recycling and sustainability have emerged as direct conceptual constructs related to the study and analysis of closed systems.


From the space program to countercultural architectural groups experimenting with autonomous living, this publication documents a disciplinary transformation and the rise of a new environmental consensus in the form of a synthetic naturalism. It presents an archive of 37 historical living prototypes from 1928 to the present that put forth an unexplored genealogy of closed resource regeneration systems.


In The Architecture of Closed Worlds, prototypes are presented through unique discursive narratives with historical images. Each includes new analysis in the form of a feedback drawing that problematizes the language of environmental representation by illustrating loss, derailment and the production of new substances and atmospheres.


This book is supported by the Robert S. Brown ’52 Fellows Program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Elise Jaffe & Jeffrey Brown and Pentagram Design. It is based on the exhibition Closed Worlds, presented at Storefront’s gallery space in 2016.


The Architecture of Closed Worlds is released in collaboration with Lars Müller Publications and Storefront for Art and Architecture. Read more about the overall project here


Book Design: Pentagram / Natasha Jen     

With afterword essays by: Michelle Addington, Bess Krietemeyer, Mark Wigley

With comments by: Peder Anker, Daniel Barber, Wulf Böer, Christina Ciardullo, Beatriz Colomina, Ross Exo Adams, Mitchell Joachim, Janette Kim & Eric Carver, Caroline Maniaque-Benton, Jonathan Massey, Albert Narath, Theodora Vardouli