Jersey Devil are a loose-knit group based around any combination of Jim Adamson, Steve Badanes, and John Ringel who have worked together or separately since the early 1970s. They take their name from the creature of New Jersey folklore, apparently used by a passer-by to describe one of their buildings. What brings these individuals together is their method of working: they not only design buildings, they construct them, in collaboration with other specialists and artisans. This way of working is a critique of mainstream architectural practice that separates design from construction. Instead they take their inspiration from the vernacular tradition of sustainable self-build. In this sense they do not consider their work to be 'alternative' but instead see it as a part of a mainstream that has been marginalised in the quest for greater profits. They see their work as a reclamation of this other way of building.
In Jersey Devil's projects agency derives from giving space to the work and skills of others, specialists and artisans whose craft influences the mode of construction as well as the design. Through questioning the sequential relationship of design and construction they facilitate a creative exchange between specialised craftspeople, architects, and users. They often live on site for the duration of the project in caravans and tents, and so have the sort of relationship to the site that is impossible for architects who visit once or twice, their experience always mediated through map data and site photos. For Jersey Devil architecture is realised through the processes of designing and building rather than the provision of information and services for others to build.
"Interview: Steve Badanes," Progressive Architecture, 71(4)(1990): 118-119.
Michael Crosbie, The Jersey Devil Design/Build Book.
(Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1985).
Beth Dunlop, "Montessori Island School, Tavernier, Florida." Architectural Record, 185(10)(October 1997).
Heidi Landecker, "Sea breeze: Levy/Kaminstein House and Studio, Islamorada, Florida, Jersey Devil, Architect." Architecture, 82(6)(1993).
Hugo Lindgren, "Troll times for architects."
Metropolis, 12(2)(September 1992).
Susan Piedmont-Palladino & Mark Alden Branch, Devil's Workshop: 25 Years of Jersey Devil Architecture. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997).
Michael Schneider and Ken Thacker, "Architecture and the end of the Rainbow." Inland architect, 37(3)(1993).
'Jersey Devil is more an idea than an actual operation'
- Steve Badanes quoted in, S. Palladino, M. Branch, Devil's Workshop: 25 Years of Jersey Devil Architecture. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997), p. xi.
'As the work in this book will demonstrate, Jersey Devil is more
than "an idea." It is a paradigm for the creation of architeture-a
paradigm that integrates design and construction, that encourages
collaboration in a discipline known for celebrating individual
effort, and that celebrates the place of architecture in the
- Susan Piedmont-Palladino & Mark Alden Branch, Devil's Workshop: 25 Years of Jersey Devil Architecture. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997), p. xii.
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