Old Architects’ Journals

I think I have made a mistake. A couple of months ago I cleared out all of my old architectural journals and sent them off for recycling.

They used to fill my shelves (I don’t do fiction), I had several stacks by the side of my desk, and a couple of boxes of the oldest ones stored away in the shed. Even then I would occasionally find one randomly tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Last year I discovered an issue featuring BedZED lurking in a kitchen cupboard. Weird.

And then they were gone. 15 years of hoarding ended. Now all I have are a couple of new RIBA Journals and a lot more free space.

Even though I never got round to reading them anymore, over the years I had probably thumbed through every copy tens if not hundreds of times. Especially back in architecture school. Most had been cut up in some form and relevant images extracted to make part of a collage to explain the ideas behind one project or another. It was what we did. Most of us developed a hard-earned, hard-wired memory for the issue to reach for that would contain the type of work and images we needed. The studio was full of pages and images cut from AJs and ARs pinned to studio walls or masking taped to drawing boards. It was pretty much the reason that the model shop sold scissors. Journals were an important, perhaps even the main, source of connection between the studio and current built architecture. It was a good thing.

Things are different now. I taught last year and it was rare to see a journal, even in its complete form, much less cut up.

I guess the equivalent now is Google images, online subscriptions, and iPads.

That’s cool. But it’s sterile.

I think every architecture school should have a stack of journals just so that they can be dog-eared, thumbed-through and cut-up. It shows that you really care.

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