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Architecture

Utopia Ending is an impressive new addition to our architecture shelf.⁠ ⁠ The utopia in this case is the city of London while the ending was created by the change in the housing market over the years - from the post-World War II expansion based on social housing to today's finance-driven development of the city. The investigation through photographs and essays makes it clear: investment in social housing has been almost completely scrapped and the new buildings are financial assets for global investors rather than housing for Londoners. Buy...

Concrete has accelerated the way we build. Faster and cheaper, our blue and green planet is getting greyer by the minute. The grey slabs are supposed to protect us from nature. From heat, from rain, but in reality they are not as effective as we would like. Concrete buildings are prone to have inadequate temperature control. They need to be air-conditioned (another environmental disaster) to create a living space that we feel comfortable in. Also, our all-concrete environment can exacerbate natural disasters when urban and suburban roads cannot absorb rain and cause flooding. In cities, the heat-island effect is amplified by concrete's absorption of heat.⁠ ⁠ Not to mention the impact of the concrete industry on our climate during the construction process. Taking all stages of production into account, concrete is said to be responsible for 4-8% of global CO2 emissions. Only coal, oil and gas are materials that are a greater source of greenhouse gases. And at the same time, a lot of water is needed. Another basic resource for life that is becoming increasingly scarce. And if you haven't heard about the sand shortage that leads to sand mafias and causes the mining of entire beaches, throwing whole biotopes out of balance, you should look into it.⁠ ⁠ The disadvantages of concrete are so numerous that we can't even mention them all in one post. And since sand is incredibly important component for concrete but increasingly hard to come by, concrete’s biggest pro-argument - and the only argument that really seems to count in a capitalist society - that it is cheap, is also likely to vanish. So where do we go from here? How can we build in a CO2-neutral way in the future? What do we build with when resources become scarce? That is exactly what this book is about. Buy...

For the 59th Biennale, Maria Eichhorn had the extraordinary idea of moving the entire German Pavilion to another location for the duration of the Biennale and then reassembling it at its original site after the Biennale. When she examined the structure of the pavilion for this undertaking, she discovered that it was not ONE building at all, but in fact, made up of two: the Bavarian Pavilion, built in 1909, and the extensions made by the Nazis in 1938, as can be seen today. While the Bavarian Pavilion was built on a human scale, the 1938 alterations to the main room and the adjoining room look intimidating and make the visitor feel small. Massive pillars replace the previous slender Ionic columns, and an additional 4 metres in height elevate the rooms to an oppressive size with a sacral atmosphere. Are these really spaces in which an open and critical reception of art is possible?⁠ By excavating the foundations of the pavilion and removing layers of plaster from the walls to expose the connections between the previous structure and the remodelled building, Eichhorn exposes not only the history but also the ideologies manifested in architecture. ⁠ ⁠ In addition to a vast photographic documentation of the project and numerous historical photographs, the publication brings together essays and studies on the history of the Biennale and the German Pavilion, as well as on broader aspects embracing art history, philosophy, urban sociology, and politics. Buy...

Is this city being built up or torn down? Is it even the same city? The same streets? ⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ Transformation processes are the focus of Georg Aerni’s new photographs. The Swiss photographer and artist shows plastic greenhouses that have annexed whole swathes of land for agricultural mass production, residential houses that have been built overnight on the city outskirts without construction machines and literally noiselessly. He points his lens at olive trees that have grown over centuries into figures full of character, at creepers that conquer leftover spaces between high-rises and motorways, and at mighty rock faces that are being gnawed by erosion.⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ With the merging of art and documentation that is typical of Aerni’s work, Georg Aerni—Silent Transition makes the signs of change the object of a contemplative observation and at the same time asks challenging questions: about our handling of natural resources, about the social backgrounds to cities growing out of control, about the regenerative force of nature. ⁠⁠ Buy...

In architecture, the ground is usually used only as a passive foundation. This book explores the possibilities of buildings that merge with the ground, the earth and the landscape.⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ The evolution of architecture is also an evolution away from nature. The 1960s was the key moment when buildings were at their most clinical. Since then, more and more architects are trying to reconnect with nature. They work with the landscape and the special features of the site. But of course, this is not an invention of the modern age, it is what architecture has been for millennia. And so this book embarks on a journey around the world and through the history of architecture in search of examples of buildings and building methods that are not only in harmony with the landscape, but also make use of its special characteristics. In this way, these buildings are almost an extension of the earth's crust. ⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ One of the many fantastic examples are the churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia (seen in the first picture), which are not built upwards but downwards, literally carved out of the ground. You could call them a kind of negative architecture. ⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ Many of these historical examples were previously undocumented, so this book also serves as a kind of archive with first architectural drawings of these buildings, categorising them and making connections between methods and aesthetics.⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ Buy...

Do you remember Polly Pocket? As a child, you could carry your secret dream house around with you. A little plastic world in a case that looks like a powder compact. Personally, I was denied ownership of one of these kitschy dream houses, my parents didn't think much of plastic toys that make you dream of mainstream consumer objects. And yes maybe the aesthetic is questionable and yet it still has an appeal to me. It was the first time I dreamt of a house that wasn't my parents'. A symbol of independence. ⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ This is one of the points of investigation in the first issue of Reference, a magazine devoted to living design, from the said Polly Pocket to Stonehenge and Superstudio and many more unusual examples.⁠⁠ Buy...

Xavier Corberó (1935–2017) is among the foremost Spanish artists of the last century. His sculptures in rough-hewn stone, marble, and bronze gave form to ideas running through a circle of contemporary surrealist artists. His works are widely and internationally celebrated in institutions like London’s V&A and New York’s The Met. But maybe his greatest artwork is located on the outskirts of Barcelona in the form of the home he built for himself! ⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ Over a period of five decades, he created a series of labyrinthine rooms, levels, buildings and vaults, expanding them whenever he had money and re-planning them during morning walks with the local builder. The House of Xavier Corberó, edited by his daughter Ana Corberó, is the first publication to explore this house in Esplugues de Llobregat. It includes original photographs by Daniel Riera and a series of texts by long-time friends and colleagues of the artist: architects Ricardo Bofill and Josep Acebillo, World Architecture Festival programme director Paul Finch, artist and journalist Celia Lyttelton, RBTA director Pablo Bofill, and an interview by filmmaker Albert Moya with Corberó himself.⁠⁠ ⁠   Buy...

⁠In 1930, duck farmer Martin Maurer from Flanders, Long Island, decided to build a huge shop in the shape of a duck to advertise and sell the Peking ducks he bred. But in this fantastic little book you will also find a fruit shop in the shape of an orange, a dog grooming salon in the shape of a dog, a supermarket in the shape of a shopping basket and a hot dog shop in the shape of a hot dog. Unlike other buildings, they are the literal embodiment of a thing itself, widely displaying their function rather than hiding it behind four austere walls.⁠ ⁠ It is a tribute to Learning from Las Vegas - a book that first highlighted these structures and changed the world of architecture, and a tribute to these buildings themselves that enchant our grey days and make us question these anonymous concrete and glass bricks. What might our built environment look like if we gave free rein to creativity and expression?⁠   Buy...

"Once I made a snap shot of an ordinary haystack that reminded me of many other structures I had never seen. Long after the haystack was gone, I kept feeling the urge to discover what the image contained but did not reveal." By deconstructing and reassembling photographs of haystacks, Emile Gostelie discovers and creates new structures. The haystacks in this beautiful book vary from seemingly real to utopian. They seperate with their original meaning and take on new forms. They evoke the joy of order and the discomfort of a construction that threatens to collapse at any moment. ⁠ ⁠   Buy...

Charlotte Perriand was one of the great designers of the twentieth century. But she has been pushed into the shadows of iconic male designers because, well, let's face it, she's a woman. The cover of this publication is one of the most poignant testaments to that. Charlotte Perriand designed the famous chaise longue LC4 with Le Corbusier, but instead of being known as the creator of this design classic, she was for a long time just an ornament. Passively placed on it for a photo.⁠ ⁠ However, this publication sets things straight and highlights the impact she has had on the field of design. But Perriand was even more than a furniture designer of timeless classics. For her, architecture and furniture had to be considered in union to create the modern interior. She called her holistic approach "the art of living". This extensive and beautifully illustrated book traces her long career from the 1920s to the end of the century. It captures a modernist pioneer and hugely influential designer but also reveals Perriand the person: dynamic, sporting, socially minded and collaborative.⁠   Buy...