Thursday, January 31, 2008

Book Series of the Moment

Many book series that try to boil down complex ideas, facts, and knowledge into slim volumes end up calling the reader a beginner, a dummy, or worse, an idiot. Well, the fine folks at Routledge call their audience for these books just what they are: architects; as well as what they're apparently not: thinkers. To remedy this the Thinkers for Architects Series "offers quick, clear and accurate introductions to key thinkers who have written about architecture and whose work can yield insights for designers."

At first blush the series sounds 15 or 30 years late, as the time of basing architectural designs and their rationale on philosophy, critical theory and other esoteric texts pretty much ended when Peter Eisenman put down Derrida and picked up a laptop. Certainly form has reinvigorated much of architectural practice, but in a way that architecture can be seen as a hollow shell of its former self. Ideas in architecture need to go beyond the merely formal and computer-aided, and perhaps these books propose some sort of answer, or at least antidote.

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Current titles include Deleuze & Guattari for Architects by Andrew Ballantyne, Heidegger for Architects by Adam Sharr, and Irigaray for Architects by Peg Rawes.

Routledge also is home to the SuperCrit series, "based on live studio debates between protagonists and critics, revisits some of the most influential architectural projects of the recent past and examines their impact on the way we think and design today."

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The inclusion of Venturi and Scott Brown's Learning from Las Vegas is an obvious choice, but I was pleasantly surprised to see SuperCrit #1 devoted to Cedric Price's Potteries Thinkbelt, a before-its-time, speculative urban design project that is usually overshadowed by his equally innovative Fun Palace. It makes me curious to see what #3 will feature.

2 comments:

  1. Sadly and in contrast with other amazon.com titles, there is neither a description nor comments on any of these books (and no excerpts available). Probably we should wait until someone really buys one of these and writes a review :)
    On a similar note, there was a guest lecture in our university on Mies van der Rohe and Heidegger, and connection between the two. The speaker used many esoteric German words, but up until the end of the lecture I could not understand what is the connection between the philosopher and the architect. So I asked that the speaker. Well, he replied that there is really NO connection, but he really liked them both, so why not try to connect them in his lecture...

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