Category Archives: library

New Books: The Fire Station Charleroi

Charleroi Fire Station - CoverSamyn, Philippe, Alain Sabbe, and Hugues Wilquinn. The Fire Station Charleroi. Tielt: Lannoo, 2016. Print.

Philippe Samyn, the architect behind the Charleroi Fire Station in Charleroi, Belgium, partnered with Alain Sabbe and Hugues Wilquinn to write The Fire Station Charleroi.  The book explores the life led by firemen, the design competition for the building, the plans, the design versus the reality, and the sustainability and artistic nature of the project.

The authors begin by describing the life and work of firefighters. The long hours, the dangers they face, and the different rooms in firehouses.  This builds context for the design of the firehouse and the inspiration behind designing such a grand, beautiful space for these hard-working individuals.  With commentary from the architect throughout, the process of designing the firehouse for the competition is described, as well as the changes made during construction.  The firehouse is unique in its shape – the building is circular.  The selection committee “complained of the maneuvering difficulties fire engines and other emergency vehicles would have due to…insufficient space” (pg. 39).  So, Samyn and his colleagues recommended the circular form, with folding doors to allow easy, quick access in and out of the fire station.  Everything about the station, from its location to its shape to the colors selected are meant to provide comfort and easy accessibility.  Throughout the book are photos and drawings which demonstrate the look, functionality, and details of the Charleroi Fire Station.

Oftentimes, fire stations are small buildings, leading to cramped conditions and difficulty in maneuvering firetrucks in and out of the station.  The Charleroi Fire Station presents an alternative to this: a massive, open facility meant to service firefighters’ needs.  These individuals put their lives on the line every day they go to the station – do they not deserve the very best spaces?  Additionally, the circular garage allows for faster departure times for trucks, and the location of Charleroi on a hill provides easy access to roads, leading to a faster response.  In other words, this beautiful space actually produces improvements in job performance, cutting down on time, which can literally be the difference between life and death for an individual.  While projects like Charleroi are expensive and time-consuming, the impact of the project proves that building high quality, functional, beautiful fire stations improves the experience of firefighters and helps them to save lives – is that not worth every penny?

New Book: Architecture and Justice

Simon, Jonathan, et al., editors. Architecture and Justice: Judicial Meanings in the Public Realm. 2013. New York, Routledge, 2016.

Architecture and Justice - CoverSimon and his co-editors explore the architecture related to the judicial system and the connection between justice and architecture to “examine the effects that architecture has on both the place of justice and on individual and collective experiences of judicial processes” (pg. 1).  The book is organized to transition from individual, intimate stories, to more broad commentary.

The first part discusses prisons and prison cells, including their design and the experience of living in prison.  The authors note that the simple lines, the utilitarian austerity give prisons a contemporary feel.  Prisons are naturally boxy places, due to the presence of square cells, and the architecture often reflects the seriousness of the place, adding to the sensation of being trapped. Next, the courthouse and courtroom are explored, including an essay on a “Virtual Court Pilot” in the United Kingdom, which would allow cases to be heard quickly and efficiently.  Courtrooms, like prisons, are meant to convey a sense of seriousness, but without the austerity of prisons; instead they strive to also demonstrate the importance and morality of the judicial system.  The two remaining parts of the book cover more general topics and explorations of justice and architecture, including articles on the spatial aspects of justice and the role of architects and justice in Athenian dramas. This section examines theoretical and big-picture subjects, ending the book on universal themes connecting architecture and justice.

Almost every city in the United States has a local courthouse or city hall, some place where civic duties take place.  It is a place some people hope to never enter.  Beautiful, imposing buildings that remind us of the laws we abide by.  Or in the case of prisons, boxy, modern buildings that warn us against breaking the code.  The architecture itself is meant to express the grandiosity of the justice system, creating an indelible if subtle connection between justice and the architecture representing it.

New Book: World of Malls

Lepik, Andres, and Vera Simone Bader, eds. World of Malls: Architectures of Consumption. Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2016. Print.

World of MallsAndres Lepik and Vera Simone Bader’s World of Malls: Architectures of Consumption explores the relatively recent development of shopping malls.  With other contributing authors, Lepik and Bader examine examples of malls around the United States, with a focus on their architecture, the connection to consumerism, and the future development of malls.

Bader notes that “as an independent building typology, the shopping mall has not yet gained entry into the history of architecture…[despite] shap[ing] cities worldwide” (pg. 12).  The shopping mall appeared a mere 60 years ago, making it a recent archetype, but one which has spread quickly.  The authors note that malls typically are within an urban area, or just outside the limits, bringing people in to participate in a particular consumer experience.  But do all malls feel and look the same on the inside?  What about the outside?  These are the kinds of issues which World of Malls explores, becoming the first study on malls from an architectural perspective.  One author even makes the argument that “in our increasingly fragmented culture, shopping, which consists of strolling through zones of consumption dotted by occasional purchases, is one of the last conventions we experience as a community” (pg. 237).  Scattered throughout are profiles of malls, featuring photos and descriptions. The book concludes with a piece on the future of malls, advocating for the repurposing of malls which are abandoned, as the buildings are often large and adaptable.

Most people have been to a mall at some point.  They have become central aspects of every day life, serving as a means of consumerism and a form of exercise or entertainment.  Featuring stores for shopping and restaurants for eating, the mall is a social place as much as it is consumerist.  Yet little attention is paid to the buildings and design of these places, as well as how common they have become.  With the advent of online shopping, are malls becoming irrelevant?  What will happen to the buildings if, or when, malls become obsolete?  World of Malls begins exploring such important questions.  But, for now, throngs of people will continue their weekly pilgrimage to their local mall to participate in what has become an American pastime.

 

New Book: On Stage!

Zibell, Barbara, et al., editors. On Stage!: Women in Landscape, Architecture, and Planning. Berlin, Jovis, 2016.

Barbara Zibell, Doris On Stage!Damyanovic, and Eva Alvares present a series of portraits of architects from around the world based on exhibitions on the subject in Hanover, Valencia, and  Vienna.  According to the editors, “On Stage! is an international women’s and gender studies project which aims at making female architects and planning experts visible” (pg. 9).  Architecture as a profession has long been dominated by men, so the project aims to give these women a platform from which to promote themselves, their work, and bring more women into the field.

The authors interviewed numerous women who participated in the three exhibitions, asking them about their personal lives, their perspectives on architecture before and after studying it, and about the experience of being a woman in the field.  For example, Agata Dzianach from Poland explained that “‘the most stressful for me was when I had to control the construction works, as the workers treated me like “the young girl who doesn’t know anything”‘” (pg. 79).  In comparison, her superior also had children and so allowed her to work from home and split her time between home and the office following the birth of Dzianach’s daughter.  Dzianach argues that “architecture is not just a building…architects should spend more time with the people, integrated to the society…with a goal to serve the people,” while also bettering the quality of their buildings by considering both women’s and men’s needs (pg. 81).

On Stage! discusses many of the main issues facing modern women in architecture.  The interviews often broach the topic of balancing work with family, a dilemma with which many women around the world are familiar and which is an ongoing political debate, as well. The jobs of architects can be demanding – even more so when construction workers, landscape architects, or designers question the capability or authority of female architects.  So how does one combat these attitudes?  On Stage! and its interviewees suggest one thing: produce work of such high quality that you cannot be ignored by your peers or history.

On Stage! is just one of the fascinating books we received this week – Come by to check out this one or anything else – we are at your service!

New Books: Colonial Delhi

Jain, A.K. Colonial Delhi: Imperial and Indigenous. New Delhi: Kaveri Books, 2015. Print.

Colonial Delhi: Imperial and Indigenous by A.K. Jain delves into the history of Delhi, paying particular attention to the work of the Delhi Improvement Trust (DIT) to improve the city.  Jain writes that “whereas Imperial Delhi was for the ruling class and the Britishers, the schemes of DIT were mainly concerned with the improvement of Jain - Coverthe indigenous city…[and] acted as the bridge between New and Old Delhi” (pg. 6).  Within Delhi, Jain argues, there are two cities: one British and one Indian.  They “had an altogether different perspective, politics, purpose, paradigm, and planning approach” (pg. 8).  It is these two cities Jain focuses on, shedding light on the physical and cultural divides between colonizer and colonized.

Jain goes into great detail on Delhi’s past, covering the city’s founding as Shahjahanabad before splitting the remainder of the book into two parts, one on imperial Delhi and one on indigenous Delhi.  He makes use of primary sources, including numerous images and transcripts of reports and other documents.  He analyzes some of the most significant and notable British buildings and explores how they reinforce British superiority and imperialism.  The section on DIT is much longer, and discusses the major population growth of Delhi and the extensive efforts of the DIT to improve Delhi.  Citizens applied for improvements to an area or building, so long as “it was ‘too badly arranged’ or [had] ‘any other sanitary defects'” (pg. 219). Different commissions would then work on the projects. Occasionally the DIT would seek out improvement projects in the city, depending on the approval of occupants.

Jain provides fascinating primary sources which demonstrate the different ways of thinking between the British and the DIT, as well as the differences and changes in Delhi’s planning.  Adding his own interpretation and analysis, Colonial Delhi: Imperial and Indigenous presents a case study which reveals the complicated dichotomy between an empire and the people and places it colonizes.

New Book: Unfinished Places

Selim - Cover 1Selim, Gehan. Unfinished Places: The Politics of (Re)Making Cairo’s Old Quarters. New York: Routledge, 2017. Print.

Gehan Selim’s Unfinished Places: The Politics of (Re)Making Cairo’s Old Quarters explores efforts throughout the 20th century to rebuild Baluq Abul Ela, a 16th-century Ottoman quarter in Cairo.  Selim examines these efforts through a political and historical lens, studying state policies towards the reshaping of Baluq Abul Ela and the impact of the changes on everyday citizens of Cairo.

Selim writes that “the urban landscape of historic Cairo significantly shaped its inhabited core and characterized the city’s principal identity and popular traditional urban patters” (pg. 2).  Baluq Abul Ela “was not an extension of Cairo’s urban growth or even a suburb; it was an independent spatial entity with its own configuration and patters, which may or may not have matched those of Cairo” (pg. 6). Bulaq underwent major transformation in the 20th century as the district became more modern, with high-rise buildings and hotels, and more heavily populated, leading to deterioration.  Selim examines the changes across Cairo as a whole, and the effects of globalization on the city.  She questions how well urban spaces are being preserved, as well as the effectiveness of the Egyptian government’s efforts in Cairo.  Selim argues that architects and preservationists must be attuned to Cairo’s history and culture, as well as the history of particular districts, to successfully remake the historic districts.

True to the Egyptian joke of “Cairo Time” (where time moves quickly and slowly at the same time – buses do not stop to pick up people, but instead simply slow down, because they must keep moving in order to sit for hours in the Cairo traffic) city and national officials have attempted to move quickly to revitalize historic areas yet these projects have floundered or even hastened deterioration.  Cairo is itself a megacity, but within it are diverse and divided cultures.  This diversity and history is exactly what gives Cairo its identity.

Over one thousand years old, Cairo is one of the largest and most historically and culturally rich cities in the world.  I have been privileged enough to visit Cairo.  A haze forever hangs over the city, hiding the hustle and bustle from those outside. At the Pyramids of Giza, a mere 14 miles from Cairo, the haze provides the illusion of complete isolation.  The sounds of traffic and life never cease, no matter the hour of day or night, except for when the call to prayer (Adhan) rings out five times a day – it is the only time when Cairo actually stops.  The buildings are mostly unfinished (as property is not taxed until construction is complete) and many are in poor condition. People fill the streets: shouting, talking, smoking.  Many would call Cairo dilapidated compared to the grandiosity of European cities.  But it is in this that Cairo’s iconic status lies – its history and culture is written on its buildings, and there is no illusion of perfection.  The new high rises, as Selim says herself, look modern and impressive, but do not blend with the rest of Cairo.  No one who visits Cairo remembers the high rises, instead they feel out of place, like the city is trying to hide its gritty reality.  But it is that grit that demonstrates Cairo’s true greatness.  The rebar sticking up from roofs, crumbling ancient buildings, the constant haze hanging above, and the crowds of people are what I remember most about Cairo; it was those features that convinced me that Cairo remains one of the greatest and most beautiful cities in the world.

New Books: Place

Harney, Marion. Place-Making for the Imagination: Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill. Burlington: Ashgate Limited, 2013. Print.

Pasic, Amir, Borut Juvanec, and Jose Luis Moro, eds. The Importance of Place: Values and Building Practices in the Historic Urban Landscape. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2016. Print.

Among the new books this week, there were several focusing on the theme of “place.”  Notably, Marion Harney’s Place-Making for the Imagination and The Importance of Place, edited by Amir Pasic, Borut Juvanec, and Jose Luis Moro.

In Place-Making for the Imagination, Harney CoverHarney explores the history, landscape, architecture, and intellectual background of Horace Walpole’s villa, Strawberry Hill.  She evaluates “the villa and the landscape…as an entity” and argues that “Strawberry Hill embodies an entirely different set of ideas [from nineteenth-century Gothic Revival] to which the key lies in the cultural pursuits and theories of imaginative pleasure that Walpole engaged with” (pg. xiv).  Harney makes use of Walpole’s writing and the historical context to alter conceptions of Walpole’s inspiration for Strawberry Hill, as well as to consider the setting of the villa as a crucial component of its architecture and identity.

The Importance of Place features articles presented at the fifth International Conference on Hazards and Modern Heritage held in Sarajevo, called “The Importance of Place.”  The conference Importance of Place Coverdiscussed “the relationship of places to each other, their architecture, and their experience with memory” and “the position of contemporary architecture in the historic urban landscape” (pg. ix).  The articles themselves cover a wide array of subjects, including management strategies for urban areas, innovation in Italian architecture in the twentieth-century, conservation, and case studies.  Almost all directly discuss Sarajevo or Bosnia and Herzegovina, creating an ideal environment for the attendees to discuss and consider the challenges of Sarajevo in particular: a fifteenth-century city ravaged by war from 1992-1995, now adapting and seeking to blend its history with modern needs.

Both Place-Making for the Imagination and The Importance of Place contemplate the history and settings of architectural features. The interaction between setting and architecture is a crucial component of what makes a place.  Architecture is influenced by the setting, and the setting is forever changed by the architecture.  The landscape is a place in its own right, as is the building, but only when taken together can the totality of the place become clear.

New Book: Global Undergrounds

Dobraszczyk, Paul, Carlos Lopez Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett, eds. Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within. London: Reaktion, 2016. Print.

Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within, edited by Paul Dobraszczyk, Carlos Lopez Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett features short pieces from the authors and other experts discussing the world beneath cities.  True to the title, the book explores cities from Los Angeles to Pyongyang and everywhere between.

In the preface, Geoff Manaugh highlights that “we live amid interpenetrating systems of space, knotted topologies that do not immediately reveal Global Undergrounds Cover 4themselves but, instead, lurk in the shadows, under streets, below grade” (pg. 9).  He adds “sometimes the space itself is the heritage…it is history from below” (pg. 12).  From there, Global Undergrounds launches into discussion of how these underground spaces were used as homes and places of safety, as well as the representation in literature, and underground metro systems around the world.  For example, Alexandros Tsakos writes of the Cairo Metro: “[it] is now infused with fear of civil unrest, political violence, and revolution…the metro is notorious for its sexual discrimination…were these underground spaces truly a refuge from the turmoil above ground?” (pg. 217).  Tsakos highlights that while the underground world in Cairo is distinct from the city above, the problems and dangers above permeate the tunnels too.

Global Undergrounds provides a fascinating exploration of the spaces beneath cities around the world.  Everyday people walk past or even on covered manholes, sewage pipes, and storm drains, but many never think about the world beneath their feet.  They know it is there, but the attention remains on the high-rise buildings reaching for the sky above.  Little thought is given to the vast world below and the intrigues it holds.

New Books 1937 Edition

While undertaking research for an upcoming exhibit at the Architecture and Planning Library, Nancy Sparrow discovered an article in The Daily Texan from 1937 entitled, “New Art Books On Architecture Library Shelves” (Vol. 38, February 26, 1937, pg. 1, 3). She sent me a copy of the article, knowing how much I would enjoy reading it. The article listed 10 new titles to the Architecture Library. Curious to know if the books were still part of the collection, I did a bit of looking. I identified 9 of the 10; however, not all remain as part of the Architecture and Planning Library’s collections.

Two of the books are still part of APL’s onsite collections, so I decided to pull them from the stacks.

Hoffman, Malvina. Heads and Tales. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1936. (General collection)

hoffmanThe 1937 article offers a brief description of the work. According to the author: In “Heads and Tales” Malvina Hoffman, American sculptress, tells of her experiences in following her career over the world. It contains photographs of sculpture and of life in various parts of the world, particularly in Africa (“New Art Books On Architecture Library Shelves,” The Daily Texan, February 26, 1937, 1 and 3, accessed 2/6/2917). Hoffman offers a biographical narrative documenting her work on the statues for the Hall of Man in the Field Museum in Chicago.  She writes of her commission –

Sudden vistas of remote islands and mysterious horizons flooded over my imagination – escape from city life, discovery of new worlds, conflict with the elements. Infinite new windows of life seemed to open before me.

What lay beyond those windows is set down in this book, which describes my adventures and experiences of “head-hunting” in the near and far corners of the earth – and how the hundred racial types in the “Hall of Man” of the Field Museum in Chicago were selected and modelled on the road. (Hoffman, Heads and Tales, 3).

Unaware of Malvina Hoffman or her work until today, I undertook a quick search in the catalog and jstor looking for recent scholarship about the artist. You might consider Marianne Kinkel’s book, Races of Mankind: the Sculpture of Malvina Hoffman or Rebecca Peabody’s article, “Race and Literary Sculpture in Malvina Hoffman’s Heads and Tales,” in the Getty Research Journal (vol. 5, 2013, 119-132).

 Lawrie, Lee. Sculpture. Cleveland, Ohio: J. H. Jansen, 1936. (Special Collections)

 APL has two copies of Sculpture, one in off site storage and copy two lawrieheld in Special Collections. The second copy was a gift by Arthur E. Thomas. While copy two was immediately accessible in Special Collections, the first copy is probably the new book identified in The Daily Texan.

Like Hoffman, Lee Lawrie offers Sculpture as documentation of his work. He provides 48 plates and a brief introduction, which he uses to express his opinion about modern sculpture. He concludes –

Also it is not meant that a sculptor cannot be a creator. Although no new ways of designing and modelling are available, the personal characteristics that stamp each sculptor’s work, when applied to an original theme and architectural problem, make it a creation. What will be done when the sculptors have full play with the tremendous and dramatic themes that are to be recorded of our age and scene can only be imagined. The opportunity for this expression will no doubt bring forth works equal to those of the great monuments of the past. (Foreword, pg. 2)

While not familiar with Lawrie by name, I did recognize his work as I looked through the plates – more familiar with the buildings themselves. While a contemporary of Hoffman, I was struck by their stylistically different approaches to sculpture rather than those governed by medium or type.

New Book: The Ten Most Influential Buildings in History

Unwin, Simon. The Ten Most Influential Buildings in History: Architecture’s Archetypes. New York: Routledge, 2017. Print.

Unwin - Book CoverDr. Simon Unwin’s newest book, The Ten Most Influential Buildings in History: Architecture’s Archetypes, identifies ten architectural archetypes that have influenced and inspired architects for centuries.  The ten archetypes are standing stone, stone circles, dolmen, hypostyle, temple, theatre, courtyard, labyrinth, the vernacular, and ruin.

Unwin writes in the introduction that “this book is about architecture’s ancient underpinnings…[and] brings the past (in some cases the very ancient past) into the present to find ideas that have influenced architects through history and explore how those archetypal ideas remain relevant now” (pg. 5).  He begins with a brief overview of the basic elements of architecture before devoting the remainder of the book to the ten archetypes.  In these sections Unwin goes into great detail on the architecture, history, and present day applications of the archetypes.  For example, in his chapter on hypostyle halls, Unwin discusses the architectural purpose of the columns to support the ceiling before explaining that the “hypostyle is an analogue of the forest…[and] a place without hierarchy,” as well as a place for wandering without any specified direction (pg. 97).  He gives examples of Egyptian and Persian hypostyle halls, describing the functionality and style of the halls, followed by some examples of architectural work today inspired by the hypostyle.

Unwin highlights these ten archetypes that have stood the test of time.  He succinctly covers vast amounts of architectural history and provides analysis, explanation, and drawings to highlight the influence and importance of these archetypes.  Unwin provides the necessary foundation for architects to be knowledgeable and think critically about the architectural features from the past on which they sometimes rely for inspiration.

Drop in to the library to see more of this week’s new books!