X-Ray Architecture explores the enormous impact of medical discourse and imaging technologies on the formation, representation and reception of twentieth-century architecture. It challenges the normal understanding of modern architecture by proposing that it was shaped by the dominant medical obsession of its time: tuberculosis and its primary diagnostic tool, the X-ray.
Modern architecture and the X-ray were born around the same time and evolved in parallel. While the X-ray exposed the inside of the body to the public eye, the modern building unveiled its interior, dramatically inverting the relationship between private and public. Architects presented their buildings as a kind of medical instrument for protecting and enhancing the body and psyche.
Beatriz Colomina traces the psychopathologies of twentieth-century architecture—from the trauma of tuberculosis to more recent disorders such as burn-out syndrome and ADHD—and the huge transformations of privacy and publicity instigated by diagnostic tools from X-Rays to MRIs and beyond. She suggests that if we want to talk about the state of architecture today, we should look to the dominant obsessions with illness and the latest techniques of imaging the body—and ask what effects they have on the way we conceive architecture.
"After years of research, the book by Beatriz Colomina explores the impact of medical theories and diagnostic technologies on the formation, representation and reception of modern architecture." (Domus, 2019)
"A new theory of architecture is on the horizon." (Bomb Magazine, 2019)
"Beatriz Colomina is one of the most exciting voices in architecture, bringing her unfailing canny perspective to topics as broad as Playboy, domesticity, the bed, and even what it means to be human." (Archdaily, 2018)
"You don’t have to be passionate about architecture to be engrossed in this book. The text is witty, clear and packed with anecdotes. [...] In short, the book might be entertaining but it also does a great job at highlighting how the architectural discipline is capable of assimilating and reflecting changes in society." (we make money not art, 2019)
Author(s): Beatriz Colomina
Design: Integral Lars Müller