Thursday, January 09, 2020

Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture

Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture
Murray Fraser (General Editor) with Catherine Gregg (Managing Editor)
Bloomsbury Visual Arts, December 2019



Two-volume hardcover w/slipcase | 8 x 10 inches | 2,540 pages | 2,200 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1472589989 | $472.00

Publisher's Description:
Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture is the acknowledged classic reference work for architectural history. It has been essential reading for generations of architects and students since the first edition was published in 1896 – and this tradition continues today as the new 21st edition provides the most up-to-date, authoritative and detailed account of the global history of architecture available in any form.

Thousands of major buildings from around the world are described and explained, accompanied by over 2,200 photographs, plans, and drawings. Architectural styles and traditions are placed within a clear framework, and the chronological and geographical arrangement of the work's 102 chapters allows for easy comparative analysis of cultural contexts, resources, and technologies.

Published for the first time in full color, and entirely rewritten throughout by over 80 leading international architectural historians, this is a landmark new edition of a classic work – one which reflects the very latest scholarship and brings a thoroughly contemporary understanding to over 5,500 years of global architectural history.
dDAB Commentary:
Major changes to the book that has served as a textbook for architectural history classes for many decades are evident in the title of its 21st edition: Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture. Fletcher's history has been global since before the 18th edition in 1975 — the one I also have in my possession, with chapters on China, India, Japan, and other places beyond Britain and Europe — but now that fact is front and center. More importantly, this global nature permeates the entirely rewritten text undertaken by general editor Murray Fraser, managing editor Catherine Gregg, and 88 contributing authors. But as Fraser writes in his Introduction, "it was not possible to have developed a more globalized architectural history before." He has relied on recent scholarship that critiques Western cultural dominance, while at the same time relying upon the chronological and geographical format of previous editions, in which buildings in certain eras and countries/regions are explained in easily digestible chunks.

The new edition's 7-part, 102-chapter structure (most chapters end up being around 20 to 40 pages) makes the daunting tome a bit less daunting, while at the same time admitting truly international coverage of architecture over the last 5,500 years. Additionally, the online version offers today's students a format more in line with their native digital skills and perhaps foreshadows future editions, which may "shift [architectural history] away from something that is closed and synthetic and seemingly fixed," in Fraser's words, "to one that is open and relational and provisional."

Visit World-Architects to read the entirety of my review of Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture.
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Author Bio:
Murray Fraser is Professor of Architecture and Global Culture at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, UK and Vice-Dean of Research for The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. He has published extensively on design, architectural history and theory, urbanism, post-colonialism and cultural studies.
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