Architecture is knowledge, history, research and trend. This is literally evident in Book Cell, an octagonal building made entirely from books that was installed in the Modern Art Center in Lisboa. Slovakian artist Matej Kren built an octagonal framework, filled it with books and removed it, leaving a symmetrical, enclosed room of stacked literature.

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Book Cell was originally installed for six months in 2006, but the piece still resonates today. The books used for the piece were borrowed from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation onsite at the Modern Art Center and returned to its collection after use, making it a very site-specific, almost personal piece, and reinforcing the idea that you don’t have to use something crazy, new and disposable to make powerful art.

So what defines architecture? Despite all the crazy new angles and leaning towers of our modern Frank Gehry age, Book Cell seems to remind us that all buildings are ultimately bound by culture and knowledge, and while those limits can be confining, they can also lead us to create things that are simple and beautiful.

+ Matej Kren+ CAMJAP