What would instigate Alberti to write a treatise when one hadn’t been written since Vitruvius? Why can’t architecture communicate its intellectual content through form and image rather than text? Are architects who write texts better (or worse) designers? Why must text, not building, change the landscape of architectural practice?

The manifesto’s immediacy stemmed from media such as the newspaper, the pamphlet and the poster. Contemporary architectural texts, artefacts such as discursive compendiums, are more and more immediate, inheriting notions of time from blogs, social media, and live streaming formats. It is becoming difficult to label an object a singular architectural text. Architectural texts do not inhabit one state long enough for us to label them as singular objects. This relationship is complicated by architecture’s contradictory relationship to time. Architecture moves swiftly to meet deadlines rife with present financial pressures. Yet the products look fifty to a hundred years into the future for financial viability.

Architectural text is losing its relationship to the author. While the manifesto was related to a single architect, or single group of architects representing a movement, contempoary media, such as social media and blog forums, allow anyone to produce and disseminate content with ease. As a result, more and more architectural texts take the form of compilations. They are assemblies of texts from a range of authors, gathered by an increasingly invisible author.

Every architect has a portfolio, but only a few have monographs. To possess a monograph one needs to be not only prolific but also inventive, for a good monograph is more than a collection of projects or an atlas of images - it is a systematic index that reflects the architect’s thesis sought or supported through representations of their works. Methods of representation include texts, drawings, images, photographs, and the physical object of the book itself. The curation behind this large corpus of materials, whether by the architect themself or by other editors posthumously, shall amount to a narrative that defines the architect’s identity and their practice.

In the near future of 2050, the printed monograph will serve as a sign of architectural authority and a means of intellectual experimentation for practicing architects. As social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter enables architects to promptly, casually, and efficiently expose their work to the public, the monograph positions itself as a physical manuscript (manu- “by hand”; scriptus “written”) that is not only for reading but also for making. The act of serious book-making gives architect a new mode of engaging with their projects - more and more considerations go into presenting the monograph as an object whose physicality would speak to the uniqueness of the architectural projects it carries within. The audience, thereby, extends from the professional to the amateur; from the disciplinary to the dilettante; from the literate to the illiterate. This also means that as the monograph has evolved from its initial phase -promotional + documentary, to its second phase - discursive, it now enters the third era: interactive + textile, further moving away from the serious texts.

— Adam Maserow, 2020; Tracy Tang, 2021