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With fourteen contributors and 207 illustrations, this book is the definitive guide to the little known work of a new breed of activist architects.They are committed to protecting the natural environment and, in a radical reorientation of an elitist profession, bringing marginalized peoples into the design process. Rather than charitable, the goals of these architects are Utopian. Through “exchange” of ideas, techniques, and visions of right living, they are expanding architecture’s power in the global struggle for sustainable growth and social justice. Specially commissioned essays from a stellar cast of theorists and historians, among others Michael Sorkin and Alberto Pérez- Gómez, develop a framework of ideas for reinventing architecture’s function in society.

Questions of ethics are brought to the fore; humanistic teachings from architects and philosophers are assessed for their relevance to democratizing the profession’s entire mode of operation. This pioneering anthology is recommended for anyone interested in contemporary architecture, green design, or first world-third world development. It advances the study of architecture beyond great monuments and famous names to collaborative, sustainable design.


“‘Social exchange’ is the important term that directs the reader’s gaze beyond business-as-usual; away from architecture as an exchange of services and toward architecture as a process for and with (a particularly important consideration) people who could hardly afford to commission architects.” -Book Review by John Hill on A Weekly Dose of Architecture