Bjarne Mastenbroek: Dig It! Building Bound to the Ground
Bjarne Mastenbroek, Iwan Baan
Building is one of very few endeavours that are physically connected to the surface of the earth, fixed and enduring. Nevertheless, for centuries, especially in the West, we have considered ourselves separate and above nature, drifting away, defining our own systems and order, and using the ground as a nothing more than a passive foundation. Other times we sought connection, drawing on nature for ritual and religion, fortified protection, and ecological balance.
This global compendium of nearly 1,400 pages brings architecture back in harmony with Earth’s surface. For years, Bjarne Mastenbroek and his architectural firm, SeARCH, have delved into the relationship architecture has, had, and will have with its surroundings, seeing buildings as landscapes that fit into their site without dominating or disturbing it. For Dig It!, they have dug deep into the history of building culture and brought to light fascinating examples of this philosophy—some well known, some previously overlooked.
From African churches chiseled from rock and Chinese villages dug into terrains to Parisian housing vibrantly overgrown and a villa built into the cliffs of Capri (famously featured in the film Le Mépris starring Brigitte Bardot), this book dissects structures from the past millennia. Part atlas, part encyclopedia, it highlights traditional vernacular practices, reconsiders all-time favorites, and celebrates contemporary examples across the globe. Designed by Mevis & Van Deursen, the extensive collection features analytical drawings from SeARCH and photo essays by Iwan Baan.
Dig It! acknowledges an effort to reconnect architecture and landscape and merge building with ground. Separated into six chapters (or “strategies”)—Bury, Embed, Absorb, Spiral, Carve, and Mimic—this remarkable survey reveals humanity’s connection to the earth through building culture: clever and utterly relevant for the challenges that we have and will face in both urban and natural environments.