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Architectural Books

Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India's Ancient River

09:30 - 14 April, 2015
Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India's Ancient River, © Anthony Acciavatti
© Anthony Acciavatti

Few geographies in the world nurture such a rich and complex imaginary as the Ganges River Valley. The heart of Indian Culture, and home to over one quarter of India’s population, the Ganges is one of the most fertile and infrastructure-heavy river valleys in the planet. Its many physical, historical and spiritual natures defy a single interpretation: always in flux, source of life and destruction, and venerated as a Hindu Deity, the Ganges fully embodies the complexities and excesses of the Indian Civilization.

In “Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River,” Anthony Acciavatti orchestrates a magnificent portrait of the Ganges River Basin, and its continuous reinvention as a test-bed for infrastructural innovation. Through the hybrid genre of the Atlas-Almanac-Travelogue, the book unfolds the many nested spatial and temporal scales that characterize this highly contested territory. Those captivated with the planetary urbanization of water will find in this book a timely and relevant volume of encyclopedic ambition and exquisite design.

© Anthony Acciavatti © Anthony Acciavatti © Anthony Acciavatti © Anthony Acciavatti + 12

Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms

10:00 - 10 April, 2015
Elevation study of the southwest facade of Villa Savoye at Poissy, 1929, focussing upon the composition and proportioning of the openings and piloti, pencil and white pastel on trace, 75.5 x 126.2 cm (29 3/4 x 49 2⁄3 in). Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris
Elevation study of the southwest facade of Villa Savoye at Poissy, 1929, focussing upon the composition and proportioning of the openings and piloti, pencil and white pastel on trace, 75.5 x 126.2 cm (29 3/4 x 49 2⁄3 in). Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Marking the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier's death, Phaidon recently released a second edition of William J R Curtis' seminal book, "Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms." Following in the footsteps of the first edition published in 1986, the book reveals Le Corbusier's works through over 500 images and incisive analysis. The context within which the book will be received is of course very different compared to that of 1986; in the following text, the author explains how Le Corbusier's legacy has changed in the intervening years, but also why the book is needed just as much now as it was back then.

From the Preface to the Second Edition of Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms:

When the first edition of this book was written Le Corbusier had been dead only twenty years. His reputation was in temporary eclipse. Demonized by post-modernist foes and over-simplified by neo-modernist friends, he risked becoming a caricature. At the time it was necessary to rescue him from transient perceptions and to place him in a longer and broader historical perspective. While focusing upon individual works I attempted to reveal Le Corbusier’s recurrent themes, basic types and guiding principles. His architecture was placed in the context of his larger social and cultural projects and related to his general conceptions of society, history and nature. The first edition closed with the declaration: ‘Le Corbusier is himself part of tradition and has even altered the perspective on the distant past. As he slips further into history, his modernity matters less and less: it is the timeless levels in his art which have most to give to the future.’

JA97: Curving Line & Surface

21:00 - 29 March, 2015
JA97: Curving Line & Surface

From the publisher. JA97 is focused on the curving lines and surfaces in architecture. The issue explores the topic through works, an interview, and essays by 10 architects including SANAA, Jun Aoki, TNA, and Junya Ishigami.

The issue, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, also introduces works of architecture with curving lines and surfaces from the past such as Kenzo Tange’s National Gymnasiums for Tokyo Olympics from 1964 and Toyo Ito’s House in Kamiwada from 1977.

LOBBY #2: Projecting Forward, Looking Back

09:30 - 27 March, 2015
LOBBY #2: Projecting Forward, Looking Back, © Cameron Clarke
© Cameron Clarke

From Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, words and writing have always played an essential role in architectural discourse. One could argue that crafting words is akin to orchestrating space: indeed, history’s most notable architects and designers are often remembered for their written philosophies as much as they are for their built works.

With the exception of a few of architecture’s biggest names, the majority of practicing architects no longer exploit the inherent value writing offers as a means for spatial and theoretical communication. This trend is exacerbated by the fact that many architectural schools place little emphasis on the once-primary subjects of history and literature, resulting in a generation of architects who struggle to articulate their ideas in words, resulting in an ever-growing proliferation of ill-defined “archispeak.”

LOBBY is an attempt from students of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture to reclaim the potency of the written word, presenting in their second issue an ambitious array of in-house research and external contributions. The theme is Clairvoyance, and the journal seeks to investigate the ways in which architects are forced to constantly grapple with the possibilities and uncertainties of designing spaces that exist in the intangible realm of the world-to-be.

© Cameron Clarke © Cameron Clarke © Cameron Clarke © Cameron Clarke + 11

Morphing: Mathematical Transformations In Architecture

05:17 - 23 March, 2015
Morphing: Mathematical Transformations In Architecture, Courtesy of Laurence King
Courtesy of Laurence King

Cylinders, spheres and cubes are a small handful of shapes that can be defined by a single word. However, most shapes cannot be found in a dictionary. They belong to an alternative plastic world defined by trigonometry: a mathematical world where all shapes can be described under one systematic language and where any shape can transform into another. As digital tools are becoming increasingly complex, this book seeks to use mathematics "as a means to demystify the inner computational workings of digital tools" by proposing a framework to convey mathematical transformations as design tools.

Charles Eames' Advice for Students

09:30 - 19 March, 2015
Charles Eames' Advice for Students, Courtesy of Yale University Press
Courtesy of Yale University Press

Few in the twentieth century straddled the demarcation between design and architecture as effortlessly – or as successfully – as Ray and Charles Eames. For the Eameses, the distinction was artificial and unhelpful; useful creative thought emerged from a process-based method of problem solving, design solutions addressed and resolved specific needs, and success could be effectively measured by an object’s ability to do its jobs. But while the Eameses were famously weary of design’s historical tendency toward “creative expression,” their work exhibited none of the abject sterility threatened by a devotion to extreme functionalism. They found that delight was itself utilitarian, and an object’s capacity to produce pleasure for its user allowed for the consideration of aesthetics as one metric of serviceability. From this belief in the unity of performance and perception emerged some of the century’s most iconic designs: Case Study House #8, the Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs, and the 670 & 671 Eames Lounge and Ottoman.

The forthcoming An Eames Anthology, edited by Daniel Ostroff and published by Yale University Press, chronicles the careers of Ray and Charles Eames in their pursuits as designers, architects, teachers, artists, filmmakers, and writers. As Ostroff attests, with over 130,000 documents archived in the Library of Congress, the Eameses were nothing if not prolific; this volume, accordingly, is not comprehensive so much as representative, curated to reflect the breadth of interests and accomplishments of the pair.

In preparation for a 1949 lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles on “Advice for Students,” Charles made the following notes on inspiration, methodology, and career strategy. They are excerpted here from An Eames Anthology:

Las Vegas vs The Landscape: Photographer Michael Light Exposes the Terraforming of the American Dream

09:30 - 16 March, 2015
“Barcelona” Homes and the Edge of Lake Mead Recreation Area, Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, NV; 2011. Image © Michael Light, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain
“Barcelona” Homes and the Edge of Lake Mead Recreation Area, Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, NV; 2011. Image © Michael Light, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain

“Nestled into the desert landscape that defines Nevada’s visage,
Ascaya feels as if it were shaped by the elements.
Where stone rises up to meet the sky, there is a place called Ascaya.”
 - The Ascaya promotional website

Not quite, according to Michael Light’s soon-to-be released book, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain. Covering the advance of suburban Nevada into the desert, this two-part book looks at Lake Las Vegas, a then-abandoned victim of the 2008 real estate crash which has since emerged from the other side of bankruptcy, and nearby Ascaya, a high end housing estate that is still in the process of being carved into Black Mountain. Light’s photography doesn’t so much question the developers’ summary as it does, say, blast it, scar it, terrace it and then build a large housing development on the remains. Featuring beautifully composed aerial shots of the construction sites and golf courses covering the desert, the book is a clear condemnation of the destructive and unsustainable development in Nevada. Much more than that, though, Light is highlighting a wider philosophy behind developments like Ascaya and Lake Las Vegas that fundamentally fail to connect American society with the American landscape in a non-destructive way.

Sun City” Hiking Trail Looking Southeast, Unbuilt “Ascaya” Lots and Black Mountain Beyond, Henderson, NV; 2010. Image © Michael Light, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain Unbuilt “Ascaya” Lots and Cul De Sac Looking West, Henderson, NV; 2011. Image © Michael Light, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain Gated “Monaco” Lake Las Vegas Homes, Bankrupt Ponte Vecchio Beyond, Henderson, NV; 2010. Image © Michael Light, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain “Roma Hills” Homes And Foreclosed “Obsidian Mountain” Development, “Ascaya” Lots Beyond, Looking South, Henderson, NV; 2012. Image © Michael Light, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain + 13

Havana Revisited: Postcards of the Cuban Capital Through the Years

09:30 - 7 March, 2015
Havana Revisited: Postcards of the Cuban Capital Through the Years, Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company
Courtesy of W. W. Norton & Company

Thanks to its privileged position as a gateway to North America and Cuba's unique political history, the architecture of the City of Havana has a rich and layered quality rarely found. In a new book edited by Cathryn Griffith, "Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage," this history is explored in detail through 12 essays by renowned architects, historians, scholars, preservationists, and urban planners in both Cuba and the United States and a selection of 350 color images comparing historic postcards with the city of today. The following text is the book's introduction, written by Cuban architect, urban planner and critic Mario Coyula (1935-2014).

Havana’s modest beginnings came in the sixteenth century, as the springboard for Spain’s conquest of America. When the port became the obligatory last American stop for Spanish ships making their return voyages to Europe, its significance grew until Havana had become the most important city in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. From the beginning, it was a settlement oriented toward providing services, especially that of protection. Hence, Havana became home to the most formidable system of defensive fortifications in the colonial Americas.

Behind the Lines by TYIN Tegnestue

09:00 - 3 March, 2015

Andreas Skeide's Behind the Lines by TYIN Tegnestue details the lifelong journey of architects Yashar Hanstad and Andreas Gjertsen, following their story from their start as students to their transition into professional architecture. The book looks at the logic behind the formation of TYIN Architects and eleven of the resultant projects, highlighting both the successes and the failures along the way. The following is a series of excerpts from the book detailing pivotal moments in their careers.

Solid Wood: The Rise of Mass Timber Architecture

10:30 - 18 February, 2015
Solid Wood: The Rise of Mass Timber Architecture, Courtesy of Routledge
Courtesy of Routledge

Largely overlooked in the development of Modernism, timber architecture is making a comeback in the 21st century with the success of designers such as last year's Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban, and the push toward timber towers from large influential firms such as SOM. In the following extract, author Joseph Mayo introduces his new book, "Solid Wood: Case Studies in Mass Timber Architecture, Technology and Design," which examines the rise of mass timber design through historical analysis and contemporary case studies.

Few books have addressed the use of wood in large, non-residential buildings. While light frame construction and residential resources are common, little has been written about the use of wood in taller, urban, commercial and institutional buildings. Solid Wood presents a survey of new timber architecture around the world to reveal this construction type’s unique appeal and potential. Not surprisingly, enthusiasm for solid wood architecture (also known as mass timber architecture) and engineering is now growing rapidly among a new generation of architects and designers.

Elements of Venice

01:00 - 13 February, 2015
Elements of Venice, Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers
Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers

The following is an excerpt from Giulia Foscari's Elements of Venice, a book that applies the dissection strategy Rem Koolhaas explored in "Elements of Architecture” at this year's Venice Biennale. The book aims to demystify the notion that Venice has remained unchanged throughout its history and addresses contemporary issues along with strictly historical considerations. Read on for a preview of Elements of Venice, including Rem Koolhaas' introduction to the book. 

Light Matters: Le Corbusier and the Trinity of Light

00:00 - 11 February, 2015
Light Matters: Le Corbusier and the Trinity of Light, View looking south to “upwardly springing” waves of light. Church of Saint-Pierre, Firminy, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011
View looking south to “upwardly springing” waves of light. Church of Saint-Pierre, Firminy, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011

For his three sacred buildings, Le Corbusier has played masterfully with orientation, openings and textures to create kinetic architecture with daylight. His pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp, the monastery of Sainte Marie de La Tourette, and the parish church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy reveal distinctive and individual approaches that each render contemplative spaces with light. In his book “Cosmos of Light: The Sacred Architecture of Le Corbusier,” Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has analysed these projects with outstanding photographs taken over 40 years and brilliant writing.

Read on for more about how Le Corbusier created his cosmos of light.

Corridor to atrium cadenced with sunshine in late morning. Monastery of Sainte Marie de la Tourette, Éveux-sur-l’Arbresle, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011 Upward view into scoop at sunrise. Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011 Golden light on altar wall. Church of Saint-Pierre, Firminy, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011 Upward view of fissure and brise-soleil, on overcast day. Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France. Image © Henry Plummer 2011 + 9

a+u 532: Latin America, 25 Projects

00:00 - 11 February, 2015
a+u 532: Latin America, 25 Projects

a+u 532 issue introduces 25 recent works built in Latin America.

Featured architects include: Rafael Iglesia, Antón García-Abril and Ensamble Studio, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Brasil Arquitetura, Rojkind arquitectos, Una ArquitetosAlejandro Aravena | ELEMENTAL.

Making Complex Systems Visible: “Between Geometry and Geography” Carefully Uncovers the Layers of Mexico City

00:00 - 8 January, 2015
Making Complex Systems Visible: “Between Geometry and Geography” Carefully Uncovers the Layers of Mexico City, Courtesy of Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro
Courtesy of Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro

I always book a window seat when flying into Mexico City. It guarantees exposing the traveler to the exhilarating immensity of the city and the valley that barely contains it: a blunt encounter of geometry and geography indeed. Braving traffic I arrive to my hotel in the historic center and the first morning, over breakfast and with those aerial images still fresh in my mind, I invariably marvel at the fact that I have just had a hot shower and that I am enjoying, as usual, excellent huevos rancheros. "How did these eggs get here?" I wonder. The thoughts quickly dissipate as one is engulfed by the many renowned attractions of Mexico City.

Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro have chosen not to be distracted. Their book, “Between Geometry and Geography: Mexico City”, is an ambitious portrait of Mexico City that avoids reading the city through the singularities of its monuments. They have produced instead a stunning graphic biography of the metropolis, focusing on the infrastructures that have shaped the city and make it function today and speculating on opportunities for future multifunctional infrastructures.

Courtesy of Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro Courtesy of Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro Courtesy of Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro Courtesy of Felipe Correa and Carlos Garciavelez Alfaro + 11

ARQ DOCS: Pier Vittorio Aureli

00:00 - 7 January, 2015
Courtesy of ARQ Ediciones
Courtesy of ARQ Ediciones

Published by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile as part of their ARQ DOCS series, "Pier Vittorio Aureli" features two in depth interviews with Aureli, the high-profile Italian theorist and co-founder of design and research studio DOGMA. The book's introduction, written by Emilio De la Cerda is excerpted below.

The work of Pier Vittorio Aureli constitutes a rigorous effort of thought regarding architectural discipline and the political dimension enclosed by the specificity of form. It is an approach focused on the power of the project, a speculative but delimited tool, which allows overcoming the paralysis of diagnosis and the abuse of diagrams, in order to establish a decisive commitment with the concrete reality of the city.

This line of thought, which is introduced here through two interviews conducted in 2010 and 2012 by Felipe De Ferrari and Diego Grass —architects and professors in our school—recognizes the profound historical and collective tradition of architecture, showing itself distant from those conceptions that see both creativity and the subjective originality of form as a sort of ethical manifest. Far from celebrating authorial genius, Aureli insists in the inseparable link that exists between architectural production and the cultural realm in which it develops.

MARK Magazine #53

00:00 - 27 December, 2014
MARK Magazine #53, Courtesy of MARK Magazine
Courtesy of MARK Magazine

MARK #53  surveys American low-income housing from coast to coast. Michael Webb provides the historical and cultural context for some recent success stories in affordable development and presents three buildings in California designed by Kevin Daly Architects, OJK Architects and Planners, and Rob Wellington Quigley.

Larger low-income developments in New York and Los Angeles, by David Adjaye and Michael Maltzan respectively, speak to overcoming the challenge of aesthetic innovation on a tight budget. In the southern and western states, we find the Rural Studio at Auburn University and Design Build Bluff at the Universities of Utah and Colorado tackling the low-income housing issue outside the city, realizing rural homes for less than €20,000 each.

Then, it’s time for dinner and a show. Tour MVRDV’s mixed-use Markthal, a food paradise for casual grazers and sit-down diners alike, before talking with Jan Versweyveld, who designed the scenography for a stage adaptation of The Fountainhead.

Humorous Short Stories About Austin's Madcap Growth

00:00 - 17 December, 2014
Humorous Short Stories About Austin's Madcap Growth, Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Award-winning architect, writer, and professor David Heymann has just released his first work of fiction: My Beautiful City Austin. Composed of seven humorous tales, the stories document the misadventures of a young architect in Austin and his accidental involvement in the slow decimation of his city’s charms. Unable to deter his clients from their poor choices, the well-intentioned designer finds himself complicit. Using fiction, Heymann paints a sharply dynamic picture of the architectural consequences of Austin’s rapid growth and “rediscovered allure.” Check out the book, here.

JA96: Yearbook 2014

00:00 - 16 December, 2014
JA96: Yearbook 2014

JA96 takes a retrospective look at the architecture of 2014. 83 projects were chosen to present the best of Japanese architecture, including works by Kazuyo SejimaKengo Kuma, Toyo Ito, Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban.

The issue also features a roundtable conversation between Tomohiko Yamanashi, Satoru Ito and Akihito Aoi about the current architectural design and decision-making.