The core idea for this book is the use of operative verbs as tools for designing space. These operative verbs abstract the idea of spatial formation to its most basic terms, allowing for an objective approach to create the foundation for subjective spatial design. Examples of these verbs are expand, inflate, nest, wist, lift, embed, merge and many more. Together they form a visual dictionary decoding the syntax of spatial verbs. The verbs are illustrated with three-dimensional diagrams and pictures of designs which show the verbs 'in action'.
This approach was devised, tested, and applied to architectural studio instruction by Anthony Di Mari and Nora Yoo while teaching at Harvard University's Career Discovery Program in Architecture in 2010. As instructors and as recent graduates, they saw a need for this kind of catalogue from both sides - as a reference manual applicable to design students in all stages of their studies, as well as a teaching tool for instructors to help students understand the strong spatial potential of abstract operations.