'Werewolf' published by acclaimed Derry architect Caroline O'Donnell

The latest book by acclaimed Derry architect Caroline O'Donnell examines how practitioners can respond to environmental and climate change in the decades ahead.

By Kevin Mullan
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 1:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 1:32 pm

'Werewolf: The Architecture of Lunacy, Shapeshifting, and Material Metamorphosis' is coedited by Professor O'Donnell, who last year became the youngest ever chair of the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. The department at the Ivy League college in Upstate New York is considered the best in the United States.

It is the former Thornhill College pupil's fourth book following 'Niche Tactics: Generative Relationships between Architecture and Site' (2015), 'This is Not A Wall: Collected Short Stories on CODA's Party Wall at MoMA PS1' (2017) and 'The Architecture of Waste: Design for a Circular Economy' (2020).

The premise of the book is summarised by the College of Architecture, Art, & Planning at Cornell.

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Caroline with her late mother Pauline and her daughter Lúnasa in Ithaca, New York in 2019.

"As climate, culture, and technology evolve and become increasingly unpredictable, architecture’s stasis becomes more incongruous. 'Werewolf' explores an emerging but under-investigated branch of architecture that embraces the transformation of form, performance, and the responsiveness to environments and context.

"These ideas are studied through architectural precedents and framed by critical essays by Jesse Reiser, Greg Lynn, Jimenez Lai, Spyros Papapetros, Kari Weil, as well as the editors.

"The shift from passive buildings to reactive structures is now imperative, as climate change and political turmoil exacerbate the unpredictability of environments.

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Derry girl Caroline O’Donnell, the new chair of architecture at Ivy League schoo...
'Werewolf: The Architecture of Lunacy, Shapeshifting, and Material Metamorphosis' is Caroline O'Donnell's fourth book.

"'Werewolf' expands on the architect’s agency to critically address political, social, and environmental unrest. Revealing the cunning and agile ways in which architecture can negotiate rather than resist change, this book departs from the fixed Vitruvian man and uses the figure of the werewolf to propose a model where changes of state, mutation, and decomposition are conceptually fundamental," the department states.

The author grew up in Derry in the 1990s and is the daughter of Patrick O’Donnell from Creggan and Pauline Morrow from Chamberlain Street.

She specialises in ecological theory and material innovation, looking toward natural and local resources to produce meaningful environments.

'Werewolf' is intended to offer a 'new and much-needed illustrated theory of environmental architecture through ideas and projects that work with the environment’s inevitable dynamism and change'.

"Because practitioners across all disciplines today are trying to affect a climatic turn, the book is also framed for a larger interdisciplinary audience, as it engages with theories and practices in the fields of art history, economy, ecology, literature, materials science, and psychoanalysis," the department states.