The Materials Book

52 22 “If Less Is More, Maybe Nothing Is Everything” 1 Construction can contribute to and help shape society. But is new construction always the best solution to the supposed problem? Sometimes, as client or designer, it may be necessary to question this assumption. Facing the enormous additions expected to cities worldwide, questioning a project’s initial objectives—among a palette of options like using less material, reusing material, and repurposing material —  is a powerful option and is sometimes the best solution. A project by French architects Lacaton & Vassal illustrates the value of doing everything with nothing, albeit certainly in a different way than R. Buckminster Fuller originally imagined. Asked as part of a brief to embellish an existing square in Bordeaux, they studied how it already functions and determined that change was unnecessary. “Embellishment has no place here. Quality, charm, life exist. The square is already beautiful. As a project, we have proposed doing mostly nothing, besides some simple and quick maintenance work—replacing the gravel, cleaning the square more often, treating the lime trees, slightly modifying the traffic—to improve the square’s use and satisfy the community’s needs.” 2 1 Attributed to Rem Koolhaas, circa 2005. 2 See