For Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto, partners at Reiser + Umemoto, RUR Architecture PC, there was never a clear line between digital technology, hand drawing and physical model making. They resisted ideologies about the Digital, which began in the 1990s. However, they also recognised early on that digital technology was not simply another ‘tool’ – in fact it is of paramount importance in the way Reiser + Umemoto works. According to Jesse Reiser, ‘it makes possible things we could have never done through the manual work. This includes the speed at which things can happen in the digital environment.’1

Designing proposals for competitions in the 1990s was a critical aspect of the practice’s growth. At that time it had achieved small built projects, but like most other architects was confronted by an economic downturn in 1992 that had a severe impact on the commissioning of architects and the construction of buildings. Competitions provided a means for the practice to test hypotheses it had been developing about programme, geometry and structure.

For Nanako Umemoto, ‘the computer never particularly entranced us per se. It was always more of a question of how to get the computer to do what we were interested in materials doing, or what we thought materials could do’.2 The design approach remains very authored and the partners are often critical of what software generates, suggesting they struggle against ...

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