After a century largely dominated by discussions of space and form, there is now renewed interest in the material and tectonic aspects of architecture. This richly illustrated and handsomely designed book takes a detailed and timely look at the importance of materials in architecture, focusing particularly on modern and contemporary buildings. Noted architecture expert Richard Weston begins with a brief cultural history of major building materials-such as timber, earth, stone, steel, and glass-exploring how they have been produced, considered, worked, and used in a variety of buildings and cultures. He then explores the ways that architects, theorists, and critics have articulated the relationship between materials and architectural forms and spaces throughout modern history. Other featured topics include the importance of place, time, junctions, finish, and meaning; the proposition that in an increasingly global and virtual world, many architects emphasize the material qualities of buildings to ensure a heightened sense of reality; and a comprehensive survey of current and prospective developments in materials, from refinements of such familiar materials as fiber-reinforced concrete and "intelligent" glass to new synthetic compounds and working methods. Together, these varied perspectives on the material art of building offer fascinating insights into the impact that the type and treatment of materials has on how buildings can be constructed and designed, how they function, and how they fare over time.
Author Biography: Richard Weston is Professorial Research Fellow at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. His previous books include several studies of the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and the first comprehensive account of the work of Jorn Utzon, architect of the Sydney Opera House.
This is a primer in architecture, and its value derives not so much from its interpretive perspective as from its unprecedented level of visual depth. Unlike almost all earlier histories of architecture, which rarely examine their subject beyond analyses of plan and descriptions of structure, this publication lovingly presents the almost infinite visual and tactile experiences made possible by the materiality of buildings. Starting with a review of the materials, such as timber, earth, stone, steel, and glass, Weston (architecture, Cardiff Univ.; Alvar Alto) continues with their impact on form, associations with specific localities, weathering over time, intersections, and more abstract associations. Exceptional color illustrations appear throughout, with numerous previously unpublished views of both interiors and exteriors. A few editorial and graphic design decisions, however, lead to some egregiously incorrect or difficult-to-retrieve pieces of information: illustrations are not fully identified, no figure numbers link the illustrations firmly to the text, there are no subheadings whatsoever within chapters, and Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City in Chicago (1959-64) is identified as Morris Lapidus's Marin Center. Nevertheless, this volume comes close to superseding Steen Eiler Rasmussen's classic Experiencing Architecture (1959) and is essential for any library serving architecture and interior design students.-Paul Glassman, New York Sch. of Interior Design Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.