Book Review: CCA on Paper

Books on books are a strange breed, tailor made for people that actually read books but unnecessary at the same time; after all do people who read want to read about something they've read or the act of reading itself? Of course the reasons for books on books vary, such as critical analyses of texts, explorations of the act of reading through books, or documents of books as artifacts. The strangely cover-less book that arrived in my mailbox today, CCA on Paper, falls into the last category. It is "a guide to all of the publications of the Canadian Centre for Architecture since it opened to the public twenty years ago."

[image source | animation by archidose]

The book -- available also as a PDF and online -- chronologically documents CCA's output, companions to their exhibitions but not catalogs of them. As Phyllis Lambert states in an interview with Peter Sealy and Mirko Zardini here, they "do books because they are long-term references," focusing on "the problematic that we're dealing with" rather than just a list of exhibition plates. Therefore the books that CCA publishes -- on their own initially and now with various outside publishers -- have expanded upon the exhibition themes, making them valuable references for scholarly research. I was surprised to see that I only have two CCA books in my library, Carlo Scarpa Architect and Herzog & de Meuron: Natural History. The latter, published with Lars Müller Publishers, is an atypical monograph, an almost scientific presentation of the duo's working process. It's a great book, and seeing it alongside other CCA titles here, I wish I had more than two.


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