NOX: Machining Architecture

by | 23. Aug 2012



Part manual, part manifesto, part monograph, this is the first publication that looks comprehensively at the methods and techniques of Spuybroek’s hugely inventive architecture.

Written and compiled largely by the architect, the book reveals the inspirations, insights, and techniques that allow him to conceive, and build, such experimental work.

A computer is more than anything else a steering device. According to the old rules of cybernetics this simply means two things; direction and flexibility – and this book is about both.
/Lars Spuybroek

H2Oexpo, The netherlands (1993 – 1997)
The water pavilion, H2Oexpo, is a permanent structure that does not “contain” an exhibition in the classical sense, as in a museum where moving and seeing are distinct. Here, the images and sounds that emerge depend on the activities of the visitors.

2nox.jpgPhoto: Peter Buteijn

Visitors are like water molecules, sometimes moving as individuals, sometimes in small groups, in excited packs or passive rows, and sometimes in large crowds.


“beachness” is a research project for a beach hotel and boulevard (1997) in the Netherlands.

I define “beachness” as a certain state of mobility, with the beach conceived as a field of openness and indeterminacy, instead of a place to dig yourself in. The loose materials of such light materials as wood and fabric and sand (used as a street when wet and for a bed when dry), people and cars, sunlight and wind are all considered materials that combine into a plastic alloy of continuous transformation. Everything is mobile and moveable furniture.


The translucent membrane wrapped around the tower permits a diffused daylight but at night becomes an enormous projection screen. When the sun has set, a projection of a new sunset starts, and after an hour another one, and again, each filmed in a successive time zone (westward) and streamed live over the internet, until morning breaks again.


Galerie der Forschung
Expo for the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften in a fourteenth-century monastery. Vienna, austria (2000).

The Umbau (conversion) in Vienna is an art in itself….the whole city is scattered with hidden jewels. here we deployed our interest in Gottfried Semper, particularly his ideas on textile and adornment. What if architecture were to occupy the space between rigid tectonics and soft furnishing?

With an iterative technique movement is built upon movement, breeding a structure that originated in the Gothic vaulted ceiling of the monastery.


The Semperian notion of cladding (bekleidung) comes from his strong interest in textile, not just as one of four elements in architecture but as its main element.
The knot was etymologically related to the Naht, the seam, which is based more on continuity of bands and threads than on the architectural segmentation of tiles and parts.


The entanglements of wood threads are translated into highways and tubular structures that function mainly as shopping centers. Based on airport typologies, these tubular structures bring peripheral strategies into the heart of the city, which should be read as an aggressive commercial continuation of La Défense.


La Tana de Alice
Alice-in-Wonderland pavilion.
“Pinopoli” – an extension to the existing Pinocchio Park in Collodi, Italy (2001)

Young Alice is caught between two mirrors of similarity, an internal one of growing up and an external one of being in a world of people who are sometimes more similar to you than you are to yourself.

The geometry of the Tana di Alice is based on the play between two similarities, between replication and reproduction, between the idea that change emerges from the self and that it is enforced from the outside.


To get inside Tana di Alice we have to go through a hole (like Alice), and after passing through an underground tunnel we enter the complex formed interior. In the tunnel there are cameras where visitors can have their faces downloaded into the Replicator Program, which changes their emotion, sex and age. The new faces are projected in real time in the Mirror Hall where highly reflective surfaces provide an infinite number of reproductions.


Twenty-three projects with explanatory texts by Spuybroek, that link the projects together, and essays by leading critics Manual De Landa, Detlef Mertins, Andrew Benjamin, Brian Massumi, and Arjen Mulder.
Many of the illustrations have been specially created demonstrating, for the first time, the complex strategies employed by Spuybroek.

Lars Spuybroek (NOX) established his studio in Rotterdam in the early 1990s. He has taught and lectured at numerous universities around the world, including Columbia University and the University of Kassel in Germany, where he is currently head of digital design.