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Factory Design is, as a title, a spartanly sober effort. Its faint implication of densely written sections on integrating local infrastructure, achieving good north light and such, seems almost designed to put readers off by its seriousness. The superficiality of the book’s actual contents therefore come as a bit of a surprise. A three-page preface charts a brief history of manufacturing and is interesting enough, but unfortunately that’s where the analysis ends. “Assembly halls and warehouses don’t require complex spatial relationships or sophisticated view juxtapositions,” says the author’s introduction. But, he continues, “a closer examination reveals the complexity of these buildings.” Therein lies the problem: while the rest of the book is composed of project case studies, it never really attempts to closely examine any of them. Some projects catch the eye — Guedes & Decampos’ end-grain corrugated facade and Tec Architecture’s insane Hotera HQ, for example — as do a few big names thrown in for good measure. But the large-format photography is arranged without hierarchy and there are scarcely any analytical drawings. The accompanying blurbs seem to be written by the architects themselves; many carry a whiff of the sales pitch, and the lack of authorial voice allows any big project to pass unchallenged as a “landmark” and those near trees to claim to be “integrated with the landscape”. The objective of the book remains a mystery. Metallic and extremely heavy, its appearance is reminiscent of a filing cabinet; as such it contains the projects competently enough, but disappointingly it does so unthinkingly and uncritically.