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Collective Form

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Actar Publishers / CCA Architecture Books

Author: Neeraj Bhatia

Articles by: Neeraj Bhatia, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Peggy Deamer, Clare Lyster, Keith Krumwiede, Jenny Odell, Albert Pope, Rafi Segal, and Charles Waldheim.

Published July 2019

192 pages, Hardcover

New Investigations in Collective Form presents a group of design experiments by the design-research office The Open Workshop, that test how architecture can empower the diverse voices that make up the public realm and the environments in which they exist. Today, society continues to face urban challenges – from economic inequality to a progressively fragile natural environment – that, in order to be addressed, require us to come together in a moment when what we collectively value is increasingly difficult to locate. Organized into five themes for producing collectivity – Frameworks, Articulated Surfaces, the Living Archive, Re-Wiring States, and Commoning – the projects straddle the fine line between the individual and collective, informal and formal, choice and control, impermanent and permanent.

With contributions by Neeraj Bhatia, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Peggy Deamer, Clare Lyster, Keith Krumwiede, Jenny Odell, Albert Pope, Rafi Segal, and Charles Waldheim.


“The conceptual projects and texts provided by The Open Workshop have provided lessons for the field, both for their open-endedness and their willingness to be shaped by its users. Needless to say, their unique ability to dive into the muck of contemporary politics and environmentalism and come out with an architecture that is plausibly optimistic makes their work a valuable reference for anyone fatigued by the difficulties of creative production”

Shane Reiner-Roth, Archinect

“As society continues to confront oppressive power structures on social, economic, and global levels, architecture makes tangible–gives form to–the often-invisible forces behind these inequities. While architects can often remain complicit in maintaining and enabling institutions of power and normativity, more practitioners are beginning to use their platform to disrupt the status quo. The Open Workshop, a Bay Area-based design and research office, is one such disrupter. By actively questioning architecture’s relationship to ecology, occupation, displacement, and movement, over the course of five years, the studio has developed a more pluralistic conception of form.”

—Aastha Deshpande, Metropolis Magazine

New Investigations in Collective Form has some of the most beautiful presentation drawings and renderings I’ve seen in a while. Documenting the work of The Open Workshop, led by Neeraj Bhatia, and accompanying a 2018 exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco, the book is crammed full of plans, sections, perspectives, diagrams, and other drawings. Ostensibly it’s about collective form and was inspired by a 1964 book by Fumihiko Maki, Investigations in Collective Form, but the projects can be appreciated for their beautiful media as well as their still relevant messages.”

—John Hill, Archidose

“The diversity of material presented in the book, from research projects and essays to projective designs and built projects, will surely make it a valuable resource for students and practitioners in all spatial fields. For anyone interested in the discourse and potential of collective form the book will be both a great introduction to the subject and a projective extension of its boundaries, much beyond the original text from which it gets its inspiration”

Ali Fard, Journal of Urban Design

“Design and infographics, masterfully used by The Open Workshop, serve to reveal the invisible forces underlying reality and to propose alternative scenarios, especially thanks to phantasmagorical visions of a future within reach of the imagination….The breathtaking array of drawings, photographs of models and of built works is interrupted by eight essays that take their cue from the visual materials to explore the various facets of The Open Workshop, like in art history’s interpretative commentaries.”

Fabrizio Gallanti, Abitare 

“Each of the [book’s] essays functions as a review of the content of The Open Workshop’s work, all writing positively about it. They are generous as well as expansive, and I found that I agreed with most of them. It’s impressive stuff, and I think that the content of the exhibition and the book is worth the acclaim.”

Andrew Atwood, The Journal of Architecture

“Comprised of rich visuals combining project and exhibition photos, the diagrams and infographics that Bhatia’s office is currently producing provides for several of the book’s eye-popping moments. An inspiring and thought-provoking product of The Open Workshop and Actar Publishing with CCA Architecture Books –New Investigations in Collective Form is the perfect companion to Maki’s original text, and a guidebook for fledgling architecture firm’s looking where best to practice in our current political and social landscape.”

—Sean Ruthen, Spacing Magazine

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