Three Cultural Ecologies: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Three Cultural Ecologies

1st Edition

By David Leatherbarrow, Richard Wesley


226 pages | 20 Color Illus. | 65 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367207267
pub: 2019-04-18
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Hardback: 9781472435538
pub: 2017-08-21
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pub: 2017-08-23
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Three Cultural Ecologies reverses common conceptions of modern architecture. It reveals how selected works of two modern architects, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, embraced environmental and cultural conditions as reciprocal and complementary. A basic premise of this book’s arguments is that cultural patterns cannot be adequately conceptualized in the terms that typically define ecology today. Instead, studies based on the natural sciences must be complemented by descriptions and interpretations of historical narratives, cultural norms, and individual expressions. Previously unpublished images and new interpretations will allow readers to rediscover works they thought they knew; Villa Savoye, Taliesin, La Tourette, and Ocatilla; as well as projects that are less well known: by Wright, the House on the Mesa and the City Residential Plan, and by Le Corbusier, the Immeuble-villas and Ilôt Insalubre projects. More broadly, this study of cultural ecology at three scales – domestic, monastic, and urban – reconsiders the history of modern architecture. The conditions brought about by societal and technological modernization and confronted by modern architecture have not disappeared in our time, but have intensified, making the task of imagining how some measure of equilibrium between culture and ecology might be achieved even more pressing.


'Three Cultural Ecologies takes obvious examples of twentieth-century architecture and shows them anew. Setting the Villa Savoye and Taliesin in their unexamined ‘natural’ environment renews our sense of those all-too-familiar buildings and causes us to consider afresh the entire ecological context of modern architecture.'

Joseph Rykwert CBE, Paul Philippe Cret Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Table of Contents

1.Speaking of Cultural Ecology 2.Pre-modern Home Economics 3.Rustica and Urbana 4.Up on the Roof 5.Pre-modern Cloisters and Precincts 6.Alone-Together Naturally 7.Into the Desert 8.Answering Disequilibrium

About the Authors

David Leatherbarrow is Professor of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, where he serves as Chairman of the Graduate Group in Architecture (Ph.D. Program). He teaches architectural design as well as the history and theory of architecture, gardens, and cities. His recent books include Architecture Oriented Otherwise, Topographical Stories: studies in landscape and architecture, and Uncommon Ground: architecture, technology and topography.

Richard Wesley is Adjunct Professor of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, where he serves as Undergraduate Chair in the Department of Architecture and teaches architectural design and theory. He has previously taught at the University of Illinois, University of Notre Dame, and Harvard University. His essays and reviews have been published in Architectural Research Quarterly, Critical Juncture, Harvard Design Magazine, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Rassagna, Res, and VIA.

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