Wednesday, October 09, 2019

New Nordic Houses

New Nordic Houses
Dominic Bradbury
Thames & Hudson, September 2019

Hardcover | 9-1/2 x 11-3/4 inches | 320 pages | 350 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0500021552 | $60.00

Publisher Description:
In a climate with dramatic shifts in temperature and light, the homes of Nordic countries respond to ever-changing and breathtaking environments with an intrinsic sense of warmth. Nordic architects today are as much informed by vernacular traditions and natural materials as their forebears, but the most recent generation of practitioners reflects a new appetite for spatial exploration and changing lifestyles.

Divided into four chapters—rural cabins, coastal retreats, town houses, and country homes—New Nordic Houses surveys Scandinavia’s finest and most innovative houses, featuring work by a broad spectrum of leading architects. Structured by terrain to show the full diversity of the landscape and its architectural challenges, this book reveals living spaces that are at once universal and distinctly Nordic. From country houses complete with traditional Nordic fireplaces, saunas, window seats, and verandas, to remote cabin hideaways and artist’s studios, there are details and grand ideas that can be applied to residential design anywhere.

This unique glimpse inside Scandinavia’s new generation of twenty-first-century homes will be an endlessly rich resource for anyone with a passion for home and modern design.
dDAB Commentary:
I'm not sure when it started, but I've noticed in recent years that monographs on European architects ⁠— those coming from European publishers, at least ⁠— put the floor plans and other drawings at the back of the book, often on gray paper or some other color different from the preceding pages. I don't know the reasoning behind this: Is it a design choice that puts the emphasis on the photos in the bulk of the book? Is it dictated by printing, the need to separate color and b/w images? Or maybe it's a mix of design choices and practicalities? Whatever the case, I'm not a fan. Separating the floor plans and the photos/texts forces people to flip back and forth to see them together and makes it difficult to use them to gain orientation, one of the most important aspects of including floor plans in publications, which serve as substitutes for seeing buildings in person.

I'm bringing this up here because New Nordic Houses does the same thing, presenting the drawings of the book's more than 40 projects on nearly 30 pages of black ink on gray paper. The projects are keyed properly, which is helpful (but often done improperly in other books, such that I must point it out), but the plans are at various scales, making it difficult to compare them to each other, and the techniques vary: some are drawn with poché walls and others with CD-level hatching, and some plans are keyed and others are not. The plans make New Nordic Houses an architecture book rather than a bound, book version of a shelter mag, but the results are short of what they should have been.

My floor plan diatribe aside, the book is a lovely collection of modern residential architecture in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland (most houses are in Norway and Sweden). The projects move roughly from small to large, from a chapter on cabins to coastal retreats, townhouses, and then country homes. In turn, I noticed that I was already familiar with most of the architects in the last half of the book (e.g. Henning Larsen, C.F. Møller, Wingårdhs), but most of the names in the first half were new to me. Considering that cabins, especially, are ideal commissions for young architects early in practice, this discovery of architects early in the book made sense. And it helped make each flip of the page new discoveries of new Nordic houses.

Author Bio:
Dominic Bradbury is a journalist and writer specializing in architecture and design. ... His many books include Mid-Century Modern Complete, The Iconic Interior, Mountain Modern, Waterside Modern, and most recently, Off the Grid: Houses for Escape.
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