Most of our land is developed, designated, or in use and resources have become scarce. As a result, an architect is forced to relate more to existing conditions and to design on the basis of these conditions. The idea of the ‘tabula rasa’, or creating from scratch, is no longer a viable option. The research group of the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture explored the condition of the ‘tabula scripta’, or the ‘written slate’. It investigated ways in which (landscape) architecture and urban design can and should relate to this condition, whereby the existing context is not seen as a limitation, but as an opportunity to make use of and a latent potential for a design.

The Garden Which is the Nearest to God, Taturo Atzu


The research took place from 2014-2019 and will result by the end of 2020 in the book ‘Rewriting Architecture. 10+1 Actions for an Adaptive Architecture, Tabula Scripta’, edited by Floris Alkemade, Michiel van Iersel, Mark Minkjan and Jarrik Ouburg. How can the contemporary architect and urban planner respond better to current issues and developments, with the existing context as a starting point? How can the existing context be read, understood, valued and further developed? How can care for heritage and new developments go hand in hand? And how can architecture anticipate new developments from the existing, from aging and social segregation to climate change? These are questions that are central to ‘Rewriting Architecture’.

Rewriting Architecture examines the changing role of the contemporary architect: the book shows analyzes of diverse places and design practices at home and abroad, from historic inner cities to post-war suburbs and outer areas. It consciously focuses not only on the preservation by transformation of what is considered valuable, but also on the accidental and unprotected. The goal of Rewriting Architecture is to provide new methods for reading, understanding and rewriting existing places and spaces, from a wide mix of perspectives. That is why the book also uses perspectives and projects from disciplines such as art, biology and pop culture, in addition to architecture by internationally renowned designers and investigative student projects.

Case study Dharavi, Mumbai


Rewriting Architecture shows eleven approaches (Reimagine, Eliminate, Obscure, Overlay, Restart, Copy, Continue, Reconfigure, Repurpose, Densify and Abstain), each with a way of thinking and acting, to add value to complex situations with subtle, precise and sometimes radical interventions. Based on these eleven ‘attitudes’, the book describes design practices that see the existing context – the complex reality in which we work and live our lives – as inspiration, motivation and starting point of architecture. Twenty thinkers and makers, including ten architects, supplemented by ten makers from other disciplines (philosophy, visual arts, ecology), also reflect on the relevant and implications of the described attitudes.

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