Book Review: The New Modern House

The New Modern House by Will Jones, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2005. Paperback, 176 pages. (Amazon)

Given the importance of residential architecture, not just for the owners but the architects themselves - usually their first design statement and for many, like Glenn Murcutt, their lifelong passion - it's no wonder that so many books are published on house design.Will Jones collects a diverse mix of designs in this contemporary collection of international houses. The book is divided into five chapter (Conditions, Materials, Environment, Budget, Aesthetics), that reflect the dominant themes of the houses included, though these themes apply to almost all single-family architecture to some extent. But this arbitrary division does not hurt the book, rather it illustrates the various ways that houses deal with site, construction, budget, a variety furthered by the inclusion of young, up-and-coming architects. Most of the designs included are built and occupied, though some are projects and most of these are British, pointing to the author's background, writing for the RIBA Journal and the Financial Times. The British lean to the whole book contributes to the eclectic nature of the designs, from simple boxes and Classically-adorned houses to egg-shaped domiciles and ground-hugging experiments in living in the not-too-distant future. While the text doesn't critically frame the subject in any particular way that points to a clear evolution in residential architecture, the presentation of projects gives the reader much to think about.