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.