New Books at the Architecture & Planning Library: Tradition and Modern Design

This week we have many inspiring and intriguing new books at the Architecture & Planning Library. Fall is a time of transition, which might be why I was drawn to books about reworking traditional design and materials to create something modern. These are some of my favorites from the New Books table:

Here, there, everywhere edited by Renny Ramakers and Agata Jaworska is a compilation of 16 projects by design company Droog  in locations ranging from the Canadian Arctic to the deserts of Dubai.  The book includes realistic and purely imaginative projects that address economic, social, and ecological issues at a local level.  Content includes essays, conversations and talks accompanied by photos and illustrations.

Holz = Wood: best of Detail edited by Christian Schittich discusses theory and knowledge about the use of wood as a modern construction material. This book contains thirty case studies of interior and exterior construction projects using wood as the primary design element. Projects are beautifully documented with photographs, floor plans, and cross section drawings.

Village Textures edited by András Palffy documents the concepts and designs of an international study-group on the development of historical village structures in Eastern Austria. Participants planned the addition of thirty housing units for seven sites to test strategies to counter urban sprawl in villages. Photographs and information about the villages are followed by multiple models and site plans.

*Clicking the title of any book in this post will link you directly to the library catalog.

Buildings in the Countryside, Durham

County Council of Durham [England]. Buildings in the Countryside: Notes for the Guidance of Developers. 1952.

This might be one of the best introductions, I have read recently:

If we are are justified in refusing to accept the obviously bad architecture we are certainly not justified in hampering architectural progress in any way. If our forebears had taken a negative attitude we might still be building in the Gothic or even Norman styles.

To sum up.

It is impossible to be dogmatic about design. The suggestions in this booklet are not expected or intended to be slavishly copied; rather should they be used as a guide. 

Wherever possible an architect should be employed to design buildings. This booklet is no substitute for his services. (pgs. 2-3)

William A. Geenty, County Planning Officer, issued this booklet arising from a need to address the destruction of the countryside by poorly designed buildings and as an extension of the County Development Plan. The advice is intended to meet “the short-term…problems of the siting and design of buildings in the landscape, village planning, layouts, densities, colliery waste heaps, quarry workings and the like.”  (Foreword)

The council offers a wide range of advice to include village planning, the consideration of landscape, and the design of houses. For example, designers should return to the planning principles of pre-industrial villages in order to achieve successful siting within the landscape. Accordingly to Geenty, “These villages are invariably well sited in relation to the land masses and natural features; they belong to the landscape and enhance its interest.” (pg. 8)  He also advises that skylines be taken into consideration when siting a single or group of houses in the open landscape. He argues that the skyline is often neglected, which results in “a spotty broken effect”. (pg. 17) Finally, extensive discussion is given to the design of houses appropriate for the countryside, to include basic principles such as horizontal masses over vertical or the placement of doors and windows; diagrams and photos of good and bad design; and actual designs submitted to the planning authority with their amendments.

New Books at the Architecture & Planning Library: Identity and Interior Design

Interior design is based on expectations and aspirations of how the inhabitants of a space will live and behave.  In this way interior design not only reflects the lifestyle of the inhabitants, it can be used to project personality traits the inhabitants wish to convey. Several new books at the Architecture & Planning Library this week focus on the fascinating intersection of interior design with personal identity.

Biography, Identity and the Modern Interior edited by Anne Massey and Penny Sparke is a collection of essays that consider the historical insights that can be gleaned from investigating the lives of individuals, groups, and interiors. The authors use case studies to explore the history of the interior as a site in which everyday life is experienced and the ways in which architects and interior designers draw on personal and collective histories in their practice.

 

Bachelors of a Different Sort: Queer Aesthetics, Material Culture and the Modern Interior by John Potvin examines the ambivalent and uncomfortable position bachelors have held in society by considering the complicated relationships between the modern queer bachelor and interior design, material culture, and aesthetics in Britain between 1885 and 1957. The author discusses the interiors of Lord Ronald Gower, Alfred Taylor, Oscar Wilde, Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts, Edward Perry Warren and John Marshall, Sir Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines, Noël Coward and Cecil Beaton.

Ron Arad: Another Twist in the Plot with text by Anatxu Zabalbeascoa is the catalog from a 2013 exhibition of the work of architect and designer Ron Arad, that includes photographs and sketches of some of his most iconic works as well as several mock-ups and architectural projects. Arad considers himself to be a self-taught designer with an approach to form and structure based on freedom from tradition and convention.  ‘The principle is that everything should be based on something that didn’t exist before’, says Arad.

 

*Click the title of any book in this post to link directly to the library catalog.

Interior Design 1939

Rockwell Kent. The Home Decorator and Color Guide. Sherwin-Williams, 1939.   Dorothy Draper. Decorating is Fun! How to be your own Decorator.  New York: Art & Decoration Book Society, 1939.

I discovered two interior design books both published in 1939. I thought it would be interesting to compare them, as the writers come from distinctly different backgrounds. According to the book’s short biography, Rockwell Kent studied at Columbia and was a writer, painter, and carpenter; whereas, Dorothy Draper was born into New York’s upper class (see Nancy Collins, “Dorothy Draper’s High Style” for her background).

I was surprised to find the same initial advice and attitude expressed regarding interior design. Draper’s book offers more advice and is text heavy, lacking color reproductions (sadly, only the end paper is brightly colored), while Kent’s book offers primarily illustrations. While Draper’s audience is clearly intended to be women, Kent’s intended audience is not as easily identified.

ROCKWELL KENT:

What a lot of stuff and nonsense is being talked and written about taste! One year the fashion experts would have us all be “early Americans.” Sit primly in uncomfortable, straight backed chairs, eat nonchalantly with our legs all tanged in forest of gate-legs… (pg. 1)

So intimately personal is everything that has to do with the home that even the most experienced of home decorators should do no more than help those less experienced to find themselves. Toward the end, the houses shown in this book may help a little, the color charts will help a lot, while the painting instructions printed on the last page of the book may be accepted, kept, and followed as the gospel of good practice in painting. (pg. 2)

DOROTHY DRAPER:

Have you considered how much pure stuff and nonsense surrounds this subject of interior decoration? Probably not. Almost everyone believes that there is something deep and mysterious about it or that you have to know all sorts of complicated details about periods before you can lift a finger. Well you don’t. (pg. 3)

Your home is the backdrop of your life, whether it is a palace or a one-room apartment. It should be honestly your own- an expression of your personality. So many people stick timidly to the often uninspired conventional ideas or follow some experts’s methods slavishly. Either way they are more or less living in someone else’s dream. (pg. 4)

It [color] is the rock on which your house is built….I firmly believe that nothing contributes so much to the beauty of this world as color. (27)

Collins, Nancy. “Dorothy Draper’s High Style.” Architectural Digest: May 2006. Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.architecturaldigest.com/architecture/archive/draper_article_052006.

APL Spotlight Interview: Katie Pierce Meyer

Though Katie has been with us for a few months now, we would like to officially extend a warm welcome to her! Katie is the interim Architecture & Planning Librarian, replacing Martha Gonzales-Palacios, who has transitioned to a new role at the University of Oregon.

Those of you that are familiar with the library may know Katie – she’s been ‘with’ us in a number of capacities throughout the last few years! Graduate Assistant Stephanie Phillips sat down with Katie to introduce her to all audiences through a Spotlight Interview.

Katie

Stephanie:  Tell us about yourself! What is your educational background?

Katie: I received my undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Southwestern University; I have a Masters degrees from University of Texas at Austin in Information Studies (MSIS) and a masters in Architectural History from the UTSOA; I am currently back in the iSchool, working on PhD in Information Studies. My research focuses on complexity of contemporary workplace practices and the preservation of architectural artifacts.

S: What is your history with the Architecture and Planning Library? How did you find yourself in this position?

K: My first semester in graduate school, I did a group project at the Alexander Architectural Archive. I loved working with architectural records and convinced them to hire me; I worked at the archives since May 2006, processing architectural collections. Most recently, I was the project manager for the Charles Moore archives. When the interim Architecture and Planning Librarian position opened up, I thought is was a great chance to do more work in the library and connect with the UTSOA students, faculty, and staff.

S: How would you describe this position? What will you be doing?

K: I will provide reference, research support, and library instruction. It has been a busy semester. I’ve really enjoyed teaching library instruction sessions for undergrads and grad students.

S: What are you most excited for in your new position?

K: I am most excited about fostering collaboration between the UT Libraries and UTSOA as well as with the School of Information. I see the potential for exciting projects that bring together the expertise in the libraries, Architecture, and the iSchool.

S: What is your favorite book?

K: Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. My creative writing teacher gave it to me in high school and I try to re-read it every couple of years. It is a collection of short chapters, each on a different conception of time.

S: What are some of the best resources that the Architecture & Planning Library offers students?

K: We are fortunate to have a dedicated Architecture and Planning Library, in close proximity to the SOA. The library has a great collection of books and periodicals, fantastic materials in our special collections, and the Alexander Architectural Archive; a great staff, which I consider a resource; and many more (feel free to add as much as you’d like!)

S: To put you on the spot – what is the most interesting thing about yourself?

K: Probably my travel experiences. I had an opportunity to travel to Sweden with Wilfred Wang and a group of architecture students a few years ago, while completing my Architectural History degree.  I attended a Digital Humanities Observatory workshop in Dublin and did an internship with ICCROM in Rome. I have tried to take advantage of educational opportunities where I get to travel. Oh, and I love ziplining! We went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon, partially because of the ziplining.

Welcome, Katie! We’re so glad you’re here!

New Books at the Architecture & Planning Library: System Structures, Engineering, and Construction

To paraphrase Larry Speck’s address at the opening of the exhibit “To Know a Building” at the Architecture and Planning Library reading room last week: A great building doesn’t just spring complete from the mind of the architect; it’s creation depends on the collaboration and work of a great team  that includes engineers, construction teams, building managers and clients. Some interesting new books at the Architecture & Planning Library this week focus on this collaborative process of the realization of architectural design.

Architectural System Structures: Integrating design complexity in industrialised construction by Kasper Sánchez Vibaek proposes a system structure in architectural design based on the use of flexible constituent elements (determined by what the current and future building industry is capable of producing) to make decisions about the assemblage of a building.

Collaborations in Architecture and Engineering by Clare Olsen and Sinéad Mac Namara focuses on team-building and problem solving between architects and engineers. The authors, an architect and an engineer with extensive teaching experience, use case studies to discuss architect and engineer collaborations that show how to solve real-world problems and engage creatively with technological challenges.

1 Angel Square by Len Grant documents the construction process of an iconic new building in Manchester, England. The author includes interviews with the project team (clients, architects, engineers, and builders) along side photographs documenting the process from the archeological dig of the site before construction began, to the completed stucture in use.

*Clicking the title of any book in this post will link you directly to the library catalog.

New books this week: rebuilding, reuse, and preservation

My favorites this week from the new books table at the Architecture & Planning Library address issues of the modern urban environment: rebuilding after disaster, repurposing vacant structures, and preserving heritage as an important part of inner-city development.

New Orleans Under Reconstruction: The Crisis of Planning edited by Carol McMichael Reese, Michael Sorkin, and Anthony Fontenot gathers a wide array  of work addressing the devastation of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina and the subsequet debates over planning and design to rebuild the city. The writers, architects, planners, historians, and activists who contributed to this project are searching for ways to create environmentally sustainable, economically robust, and socially equitable urban environments for the future. This book includes materials on planning, reconstruction of private and public housing and the cultural landscape, urban analysis, and flood mitigation.

Vacancy Studies: Experiments & Strategic Interventions in Architecture with Editors-in-Chief  Ronald Rietveld and Erik Rietveld presents the “strategic Interventions” design approach in the newly established field of vacancy studies, which grew out of the “Vacant NL” exhibition for the Dutch pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Bienale.  This approach focusing on creative temporary use of existing structures addresses the relatively new dynamic created by massive scale vacancy of structures in the Netherlands. The book also covers the  Studio Vacant NL program at the Sandberg Instituut designed to train specialists in the temporay use of vacant buildings and sites.

Heritage as an Asset for Inner-City Development: An Urban Manager’s Guide Book edited by Jen-Paul Corten, Ellen Guerts, Paul Meurs, and Remco Vermeulen is a product of the Course on Urban Heritage Strategies organized by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.  This book examines the challenges of cultural heritage preservation in urban environments and presents case studies of six cities: Recife, Paramaribo, Pretoria, Accra, Moscow, Pulicat, Jaffna, and Surabaya.

*Clicking the title of any book in this post will link you directly to the library catalog.

Suggestions for the Architectural Improvement of the Western Part of London

Sydney Smirke. Suggestions for the Architectural Improvement of the Western Part of London. London: Priestley and Weale, 1834.

In his treatise, Sydney Smirke (1798-1877) argues that the West End of London would benefit from redevelopment as the area was failing to meet the needs of the residents of a modern city.  The houses in this area were old and constructed of timber, while the roads could did not adequately serve the population , now three times that of the 17th-century. He writes:

Since that period, how immeasurable has the traffic in our streets increased! Not only have our numbers, and consequently, the demand for all the necessaries of life increased three-fold, but a thousand new sources of activity have been opened; new trades and manufactures have been introduced; new wants created; new luxuries invented. The habits of the people have undergone the most striking changes. A private carriage was, in those days, a luxury very limited in its use; stage-coaches and hackney-coaches were scarcely known; and the river Thames, which at the period under review must be looked upon as having been a leading avenue to connect Westminster and its inhabitants with the city, has for various reasons, ceased to be entitled to the preference, in this respect, which it formally enjoyed.

It is therefore, palpably fallacious to conclude that the town is now suited to our bulk, because two centuries ago it appeared to fit us tolerably well. (pgs. 5-6)

Constructing larger avenues and building houses with modern materials and updated drainage would benefit communication across the city, increase the value of the property, and the health of the city residents. (pgs. 1-16).

Smirke also argues that the redevelopment scheme would increase the beauty of the city. According to Smirke:

The inferiority of London in point of architectural merit to many of the continental capitals, must have forced itself on the conviction of every traveller who has quitted the shores of his country; and our neighbours are ready enough to draw from thence very plausible inferences in disparagement of our taste and genius. (pgs. 17-18)

He proposes to build cultural institutions and establish a regulation board of architecture and planning in the city to help solve this problem. (pgs. 17-30)

Smirke concludes with his proposal for the West End, which includes the demolition of buildings, the widening and straightening of streets into avenues, establishing piazzas, national galleries & a site to commemorate “our heroes and statesmen”, preserving/restoring Westminster Abbey, and constructing a new Parliamentary building.  (pgs. 46-117)

How Should We Rebuild London?

C. B. Purdom. How Should We Rebuild London? London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1946 (rev).

C. B. Purdom considered the destruction of London during World War II as an opportunity to rebuild with intention. The book is dedicated to the citizens of London, and Purdom writes for them:

I have had in mind that while the task of planning and building is for technical men, architects, engineers, surveyors, town-planners, and builders, together with municipal authorities, the decision as to what kind of city the new London should be should not be theirs alone. (Preface to the First Edition)

Purdom addresses the rebuilding from various aspects of town planning; however, I found the chapters on housing and architecture particularly interesting. In his chapter, “London as Home”, Purdom argues that the plan must address the housing and population crisis in London. While many homes were destroyed, those that remain were either inadequate & substandard or out-dated. One of his solutions was to remove the distinction of working class housing and build rather for different stages of life. Families with children should never live in flats while those without young children or singles should. As the family unit changes, so should where they live. He writes:

The privates garden, even though small, is of more value to the family with small children than a large common garden or playground. It should be accepted as a social principle that families ought not to live in central areas, for they require space, and children require contact with Nature…

The truth is that flats make convenient homes for people without children who wish to live near the centre of the city, single persons, business and professional men and women, and others. (pg. 25)

In “Architecture and Building”, Purdom argues that the architecture of London has been a disappointment. He writes, “No one has been able to write about London’s architecture without apology.” (pg. 109) The war was thus a chance to rectify London’s deficiency regarding its architectural heritage. Purdom proposes that the city should be entrusted to a city architect in partnership with engineers, artists, and social scientists. Under the leadership of the architects, a new national style may develop. (pg. 115-116, 120) He writes:

I confess that I want to see a London that has style in every part of it. Not a single style, any more than a single architect, and not only in the show parts, but equally in houses, shops, and factories. Style will look after itself if architects work not for themselves, but for the unity of the city and for the function of which they build. (pg. 120)

To Better Know a Building Exhibit Opening: This Monday!

The Architecture & Planning Library and the Alexander Architectural Archive are pleased to announce a new series of exhibits in the Battle Hall Reading room starting this October! Join us this upcoming Monday, October 13th at 6:00pm for our opening reception.

The “To Better Know a Building” series seeks to explore buildings through the drawings and other visual items found in the archive and library with focus on working drawings. Plans, elevations, and sections usually communicate the realization of design intent and can be used as a vehicle in teaching through example.

The first in the series will feature the Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. The Alexander Architectural Archive has the original construction drawings in the Preston Geren collection. Preston Geren was the associate architect for the Kimbell Museum. These pencil on paper drawings are a fine example of the art of construction drawings.

The next building featured will be chosen by a vote by students, faculty, and staff in the UT Austin School of Architecture from a list provided by the Alexander Architectural Archive.

Exhibit Opening & Remarks by Larry Speck – Monday, October 13, 6:00 p.m.
October 13 – January 30
To Better Know a Building: Kimbell Art Museum
Architecture & Planning Library
Battle Hall Reading Room

Austin’s Pizza will be provided while it lasts.

See below for the official exhibition flier. We can’t wait to see you there!

To Better Know a Building