To be ashamed of one’s immorality—that is a step on the staircase at whose end one is also ashamed of one’s morality.

—Louis Kahn


Consider the momentous event in architecture when the wall parted and the column became.

—Friedrich Nietzche
Beyond Good and Evil, 1886


Whether Armilla is like this because it is unfinished or because it has been demolished, whether the cause is some enchantment or only a whim, I do not know. The fact remains that it has no walls, no ceilings, no floors: it has nothing that makes it seem a city except the water pipes that rise vertically where the houses should be and spread out horizontally where the floors should be: a forest of pipes that end in taps, showers, spouts, overflows.

—Italo Calvino
Invisible Cities, 1972


We begin our way with firm
decision to learn and to
understand everything
The endless corridors with
endless niches, each of
which we must observe
Next turn gives us a
new perspective with
new niches
And at the end of the
way—the last glances
at all what we have
gone through.

—Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin
Statement for Intelligent Market, 1987


The church of this small town was given such a powerful presence because a wealthy local politician, Richard Rigby, had plans to transform Mistley into a fashionable spa town; so Mistley needed fashionable architecture and a handsome church for its preachers. It never quite worked out and in 1870 the main body of the church was demolished and services transferred to a rather plain Victorian church that was more in tune with the serious, evangelical spirit of the time than a playful spa-style neoclassical temple.

—Jonathan Glancey
Lost Buildings, 2008


Where there is a danger of the ironwork’s being stolen, a bead of weld at the bottom of the screw may thwart the thief’s efforts. (Artist's emphasis)

—Henry Jonas Magaziner
The Golden Age of Ironwork, 2000


If the first purpose of architecture is to offer a shelter against the elements, it then stands to reason that the roof is in some sense its primary creation. It’s the place where the dreams of architecture meet the facts of nature.

—Michael Pollan
A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, 1997


If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

—Milton Berle


We now witness the constructive work on a foundation that will endure through the ages. That foundation is the god of science – revealed to us in terms that will harmonize with our intelligence.

—John Fiske

monuments to everything else

Each focusing on a building part, this series of book sculptures examines the poetic functions of architectural elements, fixtures or fittings beyond their structural role.

Series Foreword
by Michael Lee

An architectural element, fixture or fitting is an object that primarily serves a structural (that is, utilitarian) purpose. Set, locked or hinged on a building or civic structure, it is often large, heavy or both. If and while performing its task properly, it is not expected to malfunction, move away, or get lost. What purpose does an architectural component serve beyond its supportive role in a piece of architecture? What are the contexts, causes and implications of the creation, loss and rediscovery of objects linked to buildings and civic structures?

The Monuments to Everything Else series emerges from these contexts and questions. Each volume isolates and focuses on one architectural component—such as the column, pipe, staircase, wall, foundation, beam, roof, ceiling, floor, room, window, door, and metalwork—as a site to deliberate and reflect on salient issues extending beyond its structural function in the building to which it is attached.

The creation, usage, disappearance and reappearance of each architectural object are not outcomes of singular causes. They are entrenched in a network of conditions, ideas, needs, interests, tastes, agents and power structures. Nature, culture, society, politics and even chance intervene and variously determine which architectural element is included, stays or goes. In this regard, every emergence, loss and rediscovery of such architectural parts is no less than a symptom that suggests a culture’s highest longings and deepest anxieties. In this regard, this project begins by meditating on the structural function of architectural parts, in order to attune to moments of poetry, conjecture and revision.

The book is an apt form for such meditations. As a format of archival, the book facilitates intellectual debate and private, sensual communion, potentially conducive for engaging the physical and contextual qualities of architectural castoffs. Also, since these parts are often massive in size and weight, one way of housing them is miniaturised representations in books. Each book here constitutes a monument to an architectural object, whilst unveiling their hidden or overlooked contexts, meanings and stories.

First published in 2010
by Studio Bibliothèque
in an edition of 5 + AP

Printed and bound
in Singapore
by Studio Bibliothèque

Typeset in Futura LT (cover and text)
and Frutiger LT 55 (cover and text)
on Pulplin Cover White 135gsm and Greyboard 2700gsm (covers)
and Maple Ivory - Cover 240gsm (text block and endpapers)

Artist: Michael Lee
Creative Direction: Michael Lee
Art direction: Brendan Goh
Design and Layout: SEED | projects
Copyediting: Genevieve Chua
Paper Engineering: Jason Teo
Production Assistance: Neo Wen Hao & Clara Lim
Special Thanks: Lee Kah Wee

Books in this series:
Freestanders' Market
Passage to Nowhere
The Plumber's Circuit
Corridors to a Cul-de-sac
Separation Clinic
Miner's Garden
Topless Bar
Cenotaph County
Vertical Serpentine

© All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission from the publisher and the copyright owners, or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act (Cap. 63) 2006.

Photography by han

Previously exhibited at
Art Stage Singapore
Hanart Square Hong Kong
and the 8th Shanghai Biennale 2010