on site review 34: on writing on architecture

This is the introduction to 34: on writing on architecture, written in early 2016. It marked the end of the two print issues/year cycle, and on site went on a three-year break. The economics of publishing a niche journal are dire: it is not a viable activity, and this underwrites the introduction below.

‘It is appropriate that this ultimate issue of On Site review should be about writing, as this is what architecture journals, magazines and reviews do: they write about architecture and urbanism, and a lot of other things, in words and images. Pictures alone, like a pure instagram site without captions, titles or text, are a new model – the image itself is like a found polaroid; the viewer applies a context, a narrative, a story; it is free and participatory.

The sheer cost of doing a traditional print publication almost demands significant text to justify itself; the web is better, and faster, and cheaper at just putting out images rather than arguments. But argument is what writing is – the need to speak, to oppose, to confer, to confirm, to argue that one exists, that one has ideas, thoughts, hopes, fears.

The writing in this issue is beautiful – so many people thinking intensely about the world and writing about it in delicately chosen terms. Thought; writing; journals: slow media.’

As it turns out, issue 34 wasn’t the ultimate issue, in 2019 issue 35: the material culture of architecture was published.