Book Review: GA Houses 90

GA Houses 90 by Global Architecture

In my days in undergraduate architecture school, GA Houses and other Global Architecture publications kept me in the architecture library for hours. The large-format journals with page after page of glossy photos, plans, elevations, and bilingual text (giving a worldly feel to the undertaking) contributed to an enjoyable escape from studio while also creating inspiration via the myriad of ideas presented in project and built form. This sure-fire recipe for inspiration and salivation continues strong to this day, as GA churns out issue after issue filled with the best -- or most eye-catching -- contemporary and Modern architecture.

This issue that I found heavily discounted at a local bookstore (GA publications suffer from a high price tag outside of their native Japan) presents eleven residential projects around the world. The projects are comprised of three "chunks": three projects in America's desert Southwest, three projects in Australia, and five projects in the magazine's homeland. Steven Holl's cover project in Arizona gets the most attention, though its outshined by one my favorite projects in recent years, the Moriyama House in Tokyo by Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA.

The house is actually a number of houses on a larger-than-typical plot of land: the client's residence and small studios. Each piece is treated as a separate box, where the in-between spaces become yards and walkways for the various residents. Nishizawa's response attempts to reconcile the large scale of the client's house with the small scale requirements of the rest of the project, but it does more than that, it also becomes a microcosm of the city.

In addition to the new houses presented in GA 90's pages, it also features Villages and Towns, what appears to be an ongoing feature of traditional places around the world. This issue looks at Alberobello in southern Italy, known for its trulli, stone dwellings with distinctive conical roofs. Why Global Architecture includes these places I'm not exactly sure, though I would guess that they're trying to equate the formal novelty of contemporary architecture with the vernacular forms of peoples and times gone by. Whatever the reason, it makes for that much more delight and inspiration.