In the last edition of the Disrupt Symposium, which took place the first days of May we hosted Marta Buges, who is the coordinator of editorial projects at the famous Actar Publishers. In her presentation, Marta shared with us the business secrets to book publishing. This article is a summary of her presentation. 

According to Martha publishing monographs is a way to elevate your business game. Books help strengthen identity, reaffirm your goal within your team, have a better relationship with your collaborators and work with your ideal clients.

Disrupt Symposium is the first-ever event organised for Architects, Engineers and Construction specialists to bring to the stage the true blueprint of Industry success. The next edition of Disrupt Symposium is coming first days of November 1-3rd and is bringing you to the stage even more amazing and inspirational speakers and topics. Go to our website: to get your tickets and check our full line-up for this edition. 

Marta Buges is an architect and editor engaged in the dissemination of the debate on contemporary architecture and urbanism in the interest of continuously rethinking the practice. She coordinates editorial projects at Actar Publishers and is also an editor and content curator at the digital platform

Actar Publishers is a publishing house based in New York. Founded in Barcelona in 1993. They publish titles of the most influential practices and theories of emerging architects, designers and thinkers of contemporary culture. Their publishing program is internationally known for circulating innovative and risky works from the field of architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. They are distributors of their own titles along with titles published by renowned institutions and schools of architecture. They are committed to supporting the ideas that make the practice move forward. Books are designed to reflect that idea, as they vary in size, shape colour and texture just as the content is singular and original.


Here are different ways books can help with your business.

Marta explores this topic by giving examples and case studies, deriving straight from Actar and the stories of Architects who published with them. 


Books as Catalysts

Unboxing New York by ODA


Unboxing New York by ODA New York. Published by Actar Publishers.

New York is a city dominated by regulations and a firm post-recession development boom where architects are to obey conventions and prescribed parameters. Building codes, market and time are equivalent to light, context and proportion. Unboxing New York looks at reclaiming the architect’s power to design a quality of life that is fundamental.


The changing shape of the city exhibits forces, theories, and histories responsible for the transformation. This book is an analysis of how architects deal with these common conventions. It is split into 5 smaller books with short articles, research pieces, diagrams and analysis of key features of projects to present an accessible and engaging road map of a large metropolis like New York adding value to urban life. 

Unboxing New York by ODA New York. Published by Actar Publishers.


ODA has developed a formula for decision-making to design alternative buildings with its prolific experience in New York. They have created and built over 50 structures covering an area of 50 square miles and witnessed the development of the city firsthand. 

Marta’s Take:

This book by ODA is a monograph. It is a way to look back and reflect on your work and project yourself to the future. It is an honest and effective approach that aligns its architectural value with the book. Divided into 5 parts the section Living explains the Why, and the sections Zoning and Developing explain the How and What of the projects and the process of the work. 


A promotional video gives us a peek into how the book was conceptualised. Moving from hand to hand different team members, department to department with strategies being put into place by each of them showing how a book brings about community and collaboration. 

Instagram post by @odanewyork on the book launch of Unboxing New York in New York

A frame shows Principal Architect Eran Chan in conversation with a client discussing the book following a frame showing the book launch in New York. Dinner at the Venice Biennale saw the book being circulated amongst architects to discuss architectural values in relation to the book. The event led to the firm being invited to participate in a competition in Rotterdam which ODA went on to win. The book helped not only strengthen the team but also in connecting with potential clients. 

Books as Experiences

Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things by Archi-Tectonics

Winka Dubbeldam at the book launch of Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things in Rizzoli bookstore in New York.

Modernism was considered a norm in architecture for almost a century. It was presented to citizens as an expression of modern life. In the 21st century with the digital came online societies, niche cultures and digital design. Digital manufacturing aided in producing surface patterning, fabrication of special building components, removing constraints of standardization in construction and being experimental

Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things by Winka Dubbeldam / Archi-Tectonics. Published by Actar Publishers.

Research and prototype testing allow for informed decision-making. Today we have reached a stage where digital design and robotic productions are the norm and integral in the design making it important to be rethought. The book Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things recounts some of the earliest projects and examines them valuing performance over form and design intelligence over style. The book breaks down 10 current and recent projects that celebrate the particular and singular over the ideal and universal using examples of prototypes, mock-ups, process documentation and testimonials.


Winka Dubbeldam at the book launch of Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things in Rizzoli bookstore in New York.

Marta’s Take:

Winka Dubbeldam, founder of Archi-Tectonics explains that this book was conceived as one of the most unusual books since Archi-Tectonics has previously published 3 monographs, which are different from the way this book is expressed. This book immerses a reader into their practice which has non-standard architectural designs that resemble an industrial style. 

The book was designed with a larger proportion which was a creative choice that meant one had to carry their book in their hands if not for big bags. 

Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things by Winka Dubbeldam / Archi-Tectonics. Published by Actar Publishers.

In the next Disrupt Symposium, upcoming this 1-3rd Nov 2022, Winka Dubbedam herself will join the virtual event with a keynote titled Strange Objects which will break down how the business model within her practice: Archi-tectonics enables her to deliver mega-projects globally through collaborations with professionals and top-of-the-range experts. She will discuss the strategies behind winning some of her most prominent projects and share with us the importance that the practice puts on maintaining a strong research wing within the design studio. 

“We are scientists first and foremost. Architecture is not only about design but about innovation and in a world challenged by issues of environment, global warming and overpopulation, now more than ever we ought to provide innovative solutions to the built environment.” – Winka Dubbeldam

To hear Winka’s presentation live, join the next Disrupt Symposium on 1-3rd Nov 2022. Go to our website to secure your ticket now.

Books as Statements

Green Obsession: Trees Towards Cities, Humans Towards Forests by Stefano Boeri Architetti


Marcus Fairs presenting Green Obsession by Stefano Boeri Architetti on Dezeen.

Written by Stefano Boeri Architetti with contributions from professionals from other fields, the book follows the 15-year journey of Stefano Boeri and his architecture studio in redefining the relationship between the city and nature. It helps raise awareness about protecting the world and its biodiversity through scientific essays, discursive threads, and dialogues by imminent personalities in respective fields. 

Green Obsession by Stefano Boeri Architetti. Published by Actar Publishers.

While cities have always inspired ideas for humanity it is now time to include them in the multilayered strategy of policy-making for climate change and the environmental debate. One of the most environmentally restorative processes even today is the process of photosynthesis. Protecting existing natural areas and biodiversity, planting trees, de-carbonization, renewable energies, digitalization, smart mobility and the circular economy could be the answer to tackle climate change.

Green Obsession by Stefano Boeri Architetti. Published by Actar Publishers.

This Anthropocene period has visible effects on the changing environment and also affects all living beings in it. The Green Obsession aims to provide solutions through architecture and urbanism and gives voice to the ecological transition that can only be achieved through a paradigm shift. 


A new kind of urbanism, questions and the relationship between humans and nature are concepts explored in the book to draw a portrait of our era. Separate professionals come together to educate the global community using a shared environmental strategy.

Green Obsession by Stefano Boeri Architetti. Published by Actar Publishers.

Marta’s Take:

Most Iconic projects and ideas featured along with a predominant green obsession in the visuals can be seen throughout the book reestablishing his objective to make urban environments greener. 


Stefano Boeri talks about the current context, the knowledge that can be used as tools in his work, and their experience and expertise in projects in China, the Netherlands and other places that help him create a narrative to imagine new realities. The new facts are now much more grounded because of the experiences the team has had before. Other contributors such as Mitchell Silver, former commissioner for the New York City Apartments, Jane Goodall, Anthropologist, and Paul Hawken, Environmental Activist are key agents that reflect on how the future should be built.


A book launch on Dezeen reinstates a statement the book Green Obsession makes. A podcast on Urbannext hosted by IE School of Architecture and Design in conversation with Stefano Boeri introduces us to the book Mutations from Boeri’s collection. With Rem Koolhaas being one of the contributors along with Boeri, the book being picked to be spoken about creates history the same way that Green Obsessions would when spoken about by one of the contributors soon. 

IE School of Architecture and Design is one of our Disrupt Symposium sponsors, who has been with us from day 1. IE School of Architecture and Design is represented by Jeronimo van Schedel, who will speak at our next Disrupt edition (1-3rd Nov 2022) about “Disrupting the built environment with business-focused architecture education. Go to our website to purchase your tickets now:

Books to Mark Trajectories

Geographies of Trash by Rania Ghosn & El Hadi Jazairy of Design Earth


Geographies of TrashGeostories and The Planet After Geoengineering, all by Design Earth published by Actar Publishers.

Waste management is a geographic concern that in the age of the environment remains invisible. Geographies of Trash look into forms, technologies, economies and logistics of waste management systems in terms of aesthetics and urbanism in Michigan across 5 projects and controversies about technology space and politics. 


With the help of the research-design methodology, the book probes spatial issues through concepts and maps the relation of trash to the space in Michigan. It is also a study of alternative strategies, rituals and imaginaries that reclaim trash as matter in place. By dissecting these issues, the book makes the concern visible and engages the audience in a debate on waste systems in architectural urbanism.

Geographies of TrashGeostories and The Planet After Geoengineering, all by Design Earth published by Actar Publishers.

Marta’s Take:

Design Earth is a design practice that engages the medium of speculative architectural projects. Created in 2015, the book makes visible the scale of waste management through thorough analysis and proposed architectural strategies to reduce the amount of negative impact of waste management systems. 

Drawing by Design Earth on the cover of Domus magazine.

In 2017 they also published Gestories, a manifesto on the environmental imagination which highlights the commitment to investigate solutions for the climate change emergency. This book, with its drawings and representation of evolution on a graphical level, surged the reputation of Design Earth. These drawings were also exhibited at the Seol Biennale and on the cover of Domus Magazine. The book is a vehicle for their work and went from being purely academic to being in the hands of renowned artist Olafur Eliasson. 


A third monograph called The Planet After Geoengineering, a graphical novel explaining climate engineering and a possible future of earth was produced. Exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Bauhaus Museum in Germany and Onassis Foundation in Greece marked the trajectory for Design Earth. 

Actar Publishers’ books selection addressing environmental issues. Top: Terra-Sorta-Firma by Fadi Masoud, Landscape As Territory by Clara Olóriz Sanjuan, Design with Life by Terreform ONE, Designing Resilience in Asia by Oscar Carracedo. Bottom: The Planet After Geoengineering by Design Earth, Climax Change! By Pedro Gadanho, Inventing Greenland by Bert De Jonghe, Monsoon As Method by Lindsay Bremner, Green Obsession by Stefano Boeri Architetti

All books are designed and written, keeping in mind specific time and research. The firm produced 3 books which aided them in marking the path for their future career and signed the commission of a fourth one which is yet to be released to complete the collection.  


Top: MCHAP2 by Florencia Rodríguez, Kind of Boring by Paul Preissner. Middle: Vacant Spaces NY by MOS, Crown Hall Dean’s Dialogues 2012-2017. Bottom: Architecture As Measure by Neyran Turan, Álvaro Siza Vieira: A Pool In The Sea by Kenneth Frampton and Vincent Mentzel, KM3 by MVRDV. All published by Actar Publishers. 

Publishing a monograph involves 3 stages.

At the production stage, the book is edited, designed and manufactured with the author’s goal in mind. The distribution must be strategic, in the right place at the right moment worldwide and curated to be a part of a catalogue. Being involved with a publishing house helps you be a part of the network. Communication strengthens the network to the outside world physically and digitally. 


ePub editions of States of Entanglement by ANNEX and Vacant Spaces NY by MOS. All published by Actar Publishers.

Books are very much alive and publishing one does not mean building a memorial for ideas. It is a strategically planned path to your goals. 


In May, during the virtual presentation, Sara Kolata discussed books in business development with questions from attendees of the Disrupt Symposium in a conversation with Marta Buges, here is a transcript of some of the conversations:


SK: Architects commit to research for their graduation and PhD Studies which end up on a shelf untouched. In this era of digital technology, information is at the fingertips of many. But to give a client a book with the story of a firm, their projects, ideology and research present the practice in a positive light. What is the future of books in the book industry? Physical books or Ebooks?


MB: Both are valid.

Now more than ever distribution of physical books is lower and ebooks are being consumed largely and widely. The book is a vehicle. The design and editorial aspects are still valid in both cases. 


Disrupt attendee: I have been working on a never-ending PhD dissertation. I hope to eventually publish but research tends to get buried unless you step up as a thought leader. I have a few ideas I want to express. In my opinion, architecture is a theory-led discipline and there is no better vehicle than books to convey complex ideas. There is no way to do it in a post, article or picture book. Publishing is a way of rehearsing our practice and writing prepares you for speaking fluidly. A book helps put you on the map. I taught for numerous years and had amazing students but how could an emerging young architect get published? And how might the metaverse transform reading and writing? 


MB: Young practitioners, researchers and architecture studios can get published through grants to produce a book. As for metaverse, we are exploring other ways to disseminate content and that is also why we launched our digital platform. We are now working on a different version and there are other ways to consume content like data resolution makes everything animated and it is difficult to express that in a book. I think there is definitely a way to translate books in the metaverse. Introducing animation, audio like conversations would be enriched versions of the book but the physical book as an experience will never die.


SK: What are the most effective strategies for launching and promoting a new architecture book?


MB: That depends. It can be a public book launch communicated to the public and created specifically for the audience. Recently we launched a podcast series that is now a book. From that conversation, the participants and guests wrote essays and now it’s a book. Maybe the promotion of a book is a series of podcasts or a debate. It really depends on the book just as there are different designs to express different ideas. Communicating the book when it’s finished also must have a variety to cater to every need. 


SK: Speaking from my own experience, from the perspective of digital transformation and the possibilities it opens to architects I set up a podcast called Profitable Architect Online. But my personal motivation behind it was that I will write an episode every single week and therefore writing 10 pages turned out to be a project that could be printed. I added an mp3 intro and outro that was the same for every episode which was initially translated into audio but also could come out as a medium in writing. Soon the process of finishing that project had a compound effect in creating a goal to write content every week. Next thing you know you have written 200 pages. But if I was forced to sit down a write a book I probably wouldn’t have in a short period. It’s actually quite interesting how you can approach research right now in the times of digital transformation where you might have something to look into as a philosophy that drives your design. Writing once a week gives you enough material to compile into a book. If you write from the beginning you have enough mixed media to create a brand around yourself which is how I built my social media to promote my name and business. It can work for everyone in every business. 


MB: Books Are Not Dead is the title because people can’t imagine sitting at a desk and writing from introduction to conclusion. But writing a book can be born from many experiences. 


SK: Are the books printed on demand or do you purchase a packet of a set of books?


MB: Right now for books printed on demand the quality is not good enough by our standards. We still do big print runs that are 700 and above. Normally that would be 1000 per print run. We do not print on demand as of yet. But other publishers do that because they distribute in other ways. 

If you enjoyed this article, Disrupt Symposium is where you need to be as debates such as these ones happen at Disrupt covering all topics of Practice Operations and business strategies that enable architects, engineers and construction professionals to elevate their game in the industry. 

1-3rd Nov 2022 we will welcome to stage C-level directors and leaders of key architecture practices to have them share with us their day-to-day efforts towards running better practice operations! It is them and their unique expertise in business which influence the success of the practices they work for! 

We will welcome UnStudio, Grimshaw, Herzog de Meuron, HKS, HOK, Mace, OfficeUntitled, K-Studio and Archi-tectonics. 

Don’t miss this-get your tickets now: