Top critical review
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on September 3, 2009
This book is elementary in the true sense of the word, presenting the basic components that create form, space and order in architecture. It is extremely methodical and organized. It actually starts off with the definition of a point before going on to lines, planes and volumes! The result is somewhat dull and often borders on platitudes. For instance, rhythm is defined as «a unifying movement characterized by a patterned repetition».
In fact, the book actually contains very little text but is abundantly illustrated with the author's black and white renderings, some of conceptual notions and the others of actual architectural works.
These are not restricted to the western world but include examples from the Middle East, India, China and Japan. However, no historical or cultural context is provided whatsoever. Also, hardly any 19th century structure is depicted and there is an anachronistically strong bias in favour of Modernism. Many examples are taken from Le Corbusier's (small) production and indeed he is given the final word with a quote from «Towards a New Architecture».
The book is totally impersonal and appears detached from its author, giving the impression of exposing absolute truths. This is insidious since many readers are certainly new to the field and the information provided is far from neutral. Program and context, for example, consistently appear as very secondary facets of architecture.
The CD integrated as a bonus is extremely basic but does include in addition to simple animation two elements absent from the printed book: colour and photographs. This is not devoid of interest but one wonders why the style is so utterly different.
Overall, this book cannot unfortunately be recommended as a worthwhile investment in time and money.