At the risk of oversimplifying, writers of books on architecture (like architects themselves) select from two options: Going big and elaborate, or keeping it short and simple. A practitioner and professor at Dalhousie, Christine Macy thankfully elects the latter. In Free Lab, covering 15 years of work (1991-2006), she succinctly and directly presents the purposes, parameters and results of the university's extracurricular design-build exercises that take place across the province and all over the city, often on the front lawn of the School of Architecture on Spring Garden (read about the Africville Free Lab on page 22). By documenting minimal, impermanent (or ephemeral), mobile and tensile architecture, which often gets overshadowed by the large-scale, permanent and lavish residential and public buildings in our midst, Macy offers a sound argument for why architecture matters in communities and societies. She shows why it's about far more than how it looks; that there's an idea at its core. Using photographs over architectural drawings and renderings, a clean overall design and a thoughtful, considerate tone without blustering or condescending to readers, the book could help create a sustained, ongoing conversation about the profession and impact of architecture.