FREE: Architecture on the Loose

BI's first book-form publication, “FREE: Architecture on the Loose,” presents 26 essays from 23 contributors and explores the exchanges between architecture and its wider cultural context.

FREE: Architecture on the Loose
Editors: E. Sean Bailey and Erandi de Silva
BI (2014)

Review by Ronnie Self

Free love, free labor, utopia, barbed wire, Generation X, gay decorators, Le Corbusier, the Arab Spring, land art, the future…

You can cover a lot of territory with a unifying theme as vast as “free,” which is what the 23 contributors have done in the 26 essays that comprise “FREE: Architecture on the Loose.” It is the first book-form publication (184 pages with only a few illustrations) from BI, which up to now has been web-based and focused on the exchanges between architecture and its wider cultural context. This same focus carries over into print, as does a social media feel in the 16 shorter essays. The 10 longer, major texts address a whirlwind of subjects and are more studied. The opening sentence — “Sex was everywhere in the 1960s” — is an attention-grabber for the first major text that addresses the free marriage of the architects John and Mimi Lobell. For one contributor, freedom becomes a burden in relation to the free space in the city — when that city is Detroit. And another interesting essay juggles notions of “free” in relation to the watershed that provides water for New York City.

Being “on the loose,” there may be something for everyone in the diverse ensemble of loosely knit essays in “FREE.”


Ronnie Self is an architect in Houston.