Less a building




Photo: Nick Andrews

Less a building: Interactions with the London Zoo Aviary

A research project and publication by Michaela Nettell with: Marcela Aragüez, Tim Dee, Polly Gould, Phillip Hall-Patch, Alex Hartley, Julie F Hill, Owen Hopkins, Helen Jukes, Milena Michalski, Colin Priest, Ana Ruepp, Hadas Steiner, Karolina Szynalska and Matthew Turner

"a deft and elegant book" – @colloquim_unpopular_culture
"very interesting, and beautifully produced" – The Modernist Society
"emphasises the broad cultural importance of the aviary" – 20th Century Society

Published by Passengers, September 2021
Paperback, full colour
130 x 190mm, 130pp.
Cover on Colorplan Adriatic 270gsm; inside pages on Mohawk Everyday 118gsm; inserts on Offenbach Bible 60gsm
ISBN: 978-1-7399141-0-3
RRP: £14

#LessABuilding on Instagram

"The aviary was less a building in the conventional sense than a set of spatial possibilities created by an inherently flexible structural system."
– Owen Hopkins, 2016

Realised by Cedric Price, Antony Armstrong-Jones and Frank Newby in the mid-1960s, the landmark London Zoo Aviary is known for its pioneering tensile structure, its immersive and sensory qualities and its architectural paradoxes of permanence/plasticity, transparency/opacity and openness/enclosure. 'Less a building' takes the hiatus of the aviary's redevelopment in the early 2020s as an opportunity to consider the structure anew, exposing it as a powerful catalyst for experimental thinking and making.

Ten site-responsive artworks and texts are presented alongside a roundtable between six architects, writers and academics, and documents from the Cedric Price and London Zoo archives. Posing questions around cultivated habitats and curated landscapes, and asking what the aviary has come to represent in architectural, zoological and environmental terms, the project proposes a set of new, interconnecting and open-ended readings of an important piece of twentieth century design to mark this pivotal moment in its history.

Stockists: AA Bookshop, London; The Modernist Bookshop, Manchester; Good Press, Glasgow; Printed Matter, New York. Copies also available/held at: Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London; the Architecture Library, IE University, Madrid-Segovia; The Library, Chelsea College of Arts (University of the Arts London); the Royal College of Art Library; the Artexte Collection, Montréal; National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; The Bodleian Library Oxford University; National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth; Cambridge University Library; The Library of Trinity College Dublin; and The British Library.

For all enquiries and press images please contact:

Michaela Nettell (Artist/Editor)
+44 (0)7974 346137

Passengers (Publishing partner)
+44 (0)7817 529774

Images: 1. Launch event at Passengers. Photo: Nick Andrews; 2. Unknown photographer,View of London Zoo Aviary, gelatin silver print, 1965 or after, Cedric Price fonds, Canadian Centre for Architecture; 3. Ana Ruepp, Not of transparency exactly (6), ink, spray paint and collage on folded card, 2020. Photo: Michaela Nettell