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Reading Architecture and Culture
Researching Buildings, Spaces and Documents





ISBN 9780415601436
Published March 15, 2012 by Routledge
272 Pages

 
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Book Description

Architecture displays the values involved in its inhabitation, construction, procurement and design. It traces the thinking of the individuals who have participated in it, their relationships, and their involvement in the cultures where they lived and worked. In this way, buildings, their details, and the documents used to make them, can be read closely for cultural insights.

Introducing the idea of reading buildings as cultural artefacts, this book presents perceptive readings by eminent writers which demonstrate the power of this approach.

The chapters show that close readings of architecture and its materials can test commonplace assumptions, help architects to appreciate the contexts in which they work, and indicate ways to think more astutely about design. The readings collected in this innovative and accessible book address buildings, specifications and photographs. They range in time from the fifteenth century – examining the only surviving drawing made by Leon Battista Alberti – to the recent past – projects completed by Norman Foster in 2006 and Herzog and De Meuron in 2008. They range geographically from France to Puerto Rico to Kazakhstan and they range in fame from buildings celebrated by critics to house extensions and motorway service areas.

Taken together, these essays demonstrate important research methods which yield powerful insights for designers, critics and historians, and lessons for students.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Case for Close Reading Adam Sharr  Opening  1. Breathing Walls David Leatherbarrow  Part 1: Extraodrinary Buildings, Divergent Readings  Introduction Adam Sharr  2. An Augury of Collapse: Herzog and De Meuron’s Caixa Forum, Madrid Adam Sharr  3. Fostering Relations in Kazakhstan Edward Wainwright  4. Reading the Site at Sverre Fehn's Hamar Museum Suzanne Ewing 5. A Hellish Cloud and a Very Clear Air: Industry, Nature and Weather in Early Eighteenth-Century England Jonathan Hill  Part 2: Familiar Buildings, Unfamiliar Readings Introduction Adam Sharr  6. Extension Stories Flora Samuel  7. Lounge Space: The Home, the City and the Service Area Samuel Austin  8. The Architecture of Urban Life: 67 rue des Meuniers Diana Periton  9. The Settings and the Social Condenser: Transitional Objects in Architecture and Psychoanalysis Jane Rendell  Part 3: Redolent Details, Insightful Dcouments  Introduction Adam Sharr  10. Four Lines Michael Cadwell  11. 'God is in the Details'/'The Detail is Moot': A Meeting Between Koolhaas and Mies Mhairi McVicar  12. Specifying Transparency: From ‘Best Seconds’ to ‘New Glass Performances’ Katie Lloyd Thomas  13. Making Plans: Alberti's Ichnography as Cultural Artefact Paul Emmons and Jonathan Foote  14. How the Mind Meets Architecture: What Photography Reveals Hugh Campbell  Opening 2  15. An Architectural Good-life can be Built, Explained and Taught only Through Storytelling Marco Frascari

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