Houses: Extraordinary Living
Phaidon, May 2019
Hardcover | 9-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches | 448 pages | 400 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0714878096 | $59.95
Throughout history, houses have presented architects the world over with infinite opportunities to experiment with new methods and materials for domestic living. Houses: Extraordinary Living celebrates the incredible diversity and beauty of the house as never before, from Modernist icons to feats of technological, material, and spatial innovation in the 21st century.
The 400 houses in this collection are organized in curated pairings, with each entry featuring an evocative image and an engaging description. Styles presented include Modernism, Postmodernism, Brutalism, Regionalism, Deconstructivism, and International Style. Houses are from countries and locations worldwide that are famed for their houses, such as Australia and Japan, the Case Study Houses in Los Angeles, New Canaan in Connecticut, and Fire Island in New York.
Explore the creative imaginations of hundreds of internationally renowned architects past and present, as well as dozens of awe-inspiring houses by lesser-known and emerging talents. Iconic architects of the twentieth century, including Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer, as well as the very best of contemporary architects working around the world today, such as Tadao Ando, Grafton, and Steven Holl are included.
Earlier this year I reviewed Drawing Architecture, noting how the book, published by Phaidon and authored by Helen Thomas, paired two drawings per spread in “an associational approach” meant to, as described in the book, “provide imaginative space for the reader to make their own connections between the images.” Similarly, the 400 houses from 1901-2018 in Houses: Extraordinary Living are presented as “visual pairs” rather than in alphabetical, chronological, or geographical order. As Sam Lubell writes in the Introduction, with echoes of Drawing Architecture, this approach is used “to provide imaginative space for the reader to make their own connections.” So in the case of Andrew Geller’s Pearlroth House (Long Island, NY, 1959) and Moon Hoon’s Simple House (Jeju-si, South Korea, 2017), as seen in the bottom spread, we’re drawn to the diagonals, which we’d be focused on anyways, even if each house were seen separately. But together, we’re inclined to consider how the diagonals are used in each house: as boxes rotated 45 degrees to contain rooms and as structural members used to brace the house’s concrete boxes against strong winds.
With 200 such pairs, the book can be read in a number of ways: comparing and contrasting the visual pairs, learning about new houses never encountered before (my preferred way), learning about the houses through the short descriptions that accompany the photos, or using the timeline at the back of the book to hone in on contemporaneous creations. Whatever the case, this compilation, like Drawing Architecture and other titles with one item per page, is a jumping-off place for learning about houses and architects of interest. After all, how much information can be conveyed with one exterior photo and a dozen lines of text? The photos serve to pique the readers interest, while the descriptions expand upon the qualities of each house and give readers a better idea if they want to look for more information elsewhere. For fans of modern residential architecture, there is an abundance of interesting projects. I write about architecture for a living, but I came across many houses I’d never seen before or architects I’d never heard of — a testament to the diversity of house assembled by the editors at Phaidon.
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