Lie back in an armchair, open one of those thick monographs architects like to publish, and you are likely to find what you expect: plans, sketches, photographs, and notes the firm in question has put together in the process of designing and raising buildings, or generated expressly with the book in mind. The editor tends to be a mere taxonomist sorting and unsorting all the readymade material sent in.
Rarely will the editor suggest that the documents be presented not as finished products but as pieces of an experiment where post-production opens other channels for discourse. This is what Buchner Bründler wanted when they urged the designer-photographer Ludovic Balland to reconsider the structure of a new catalog of their works; in the previous one, the dominance of photos of completed buildings had left them with a desire to editorially explore the same never-predetermined methodology of their practice.
The result has not precluded the usual images, drawings, and texts, even with essays by Balland providing other visual narratives, through relievingly heterogeneous formats subjected to no other criteria than to fit on the page. Absorbed in his overexposures of models seeming to be bursting out of Niépce’s camera obscura, his dull gardens as immortalized by Daguerre, or his portraits of folks taken with Nadar’s warmth, from our armchairs we are sure to recall the Oliver Wendell Holmes line that is quoted in the foreword: “Give us a few negatives of a thing worth seeing, that is all we want of it. Then put it down, if you please.”