Round-Up 31.03.10


Seven new architecture books come under the microscope, covering topics from Cedric Price and planning to struts and situationists

The Conversation Series 21: Cedric Price, by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Walther Konig, €19.80
The latest in Obrist's Conversation series, this time the one-man archive kept the tape recorder running through a series of chats with the late, great Cedric Price. The tone is informal and the reader is a fly on the wall, listening to the creator of the Fun Palace on the topics of time, crinkly bacon as architecture and recycling plants as cathedrals. JM

Grand Urban Rules, by Alex Lehnerer, 010 publishers, €29.50
There are many books about great cities and great buildings – this is a book about great rules. It looks at 115 of the planning regulations that have shaped and preserved cities around the world. These rules are as important in dictating a city's form as terrain and materials, but don't get the respect they deserve; this book does something to redress the balance, looking at rules as products of human culture and as conduits of beauty and creativity. And it's not the dry experience you might expect.

But many of these rules are concerned with preserving the distinctiveness of particular cities. It is bizarre, then, for the authors to create an imaginary city ("Averuni") where they are all in effect. This unnecessary twist complicates and confuses an otherwise engrossing and valuable book. WW

Building Up and Tearing Down: Reflections on the Age of Architecture, by Paul Goldberger, Monacelli, $35
Here's a collection of articles by the New Yorker's architecture critic spanning roughly the last decade. Old Goldberger has a Pulitzer – proudly displayed on the cover of this book – but he's not exactly the toughest critic. He's particularly soft on starchitects and developers. Goldberger is very accessible and he has some useful insights but if you're looking to curl up with some meaty critical writing try the late Herbert Muschamp's hefty new volume, reviewed in next month's icon. JM

Support Structures, by Celine Condorelli, Sternberg Press, €25
Condorelli has been pursuing the rich subject of support in architecture for about a decade now, covering all of the theme's social and structural implications. Consequently this book is a rich seam of ideas. Some of the texts suffer from the wooliness that comes with a lot 
of interdisciplinary thinking these days but there's plenty to make up for it. And we love the design, particularly the Gallimard-style font on the spine. JM

Super-Critical, by Peter Eisenman & Rem Koolhaas, Architectural Association Publications, £12
This, the first installment of the AA's delicious little Architecture Words books, has arrived some time after installments two to four. It has been highly anticipated. Based on a stellar 2006 conversation between Eisenman and Koolhaas, Super-Critical adds in some 1970s talks by the architectural giants, critics in conversation about them, and Brett Steele's 100-point appreciation of the pair. There's also an entertaining afterword explaining why it took three years to bring out this slim volume. WW

The Situationists and the City, edited by Tom McDonough, Verso, £14.99
Another eagerly awaited title – Tom McDonough has gathered together key situationist texts related to the city into an essential single volume. All the gang are here, from Guy Debord's original Theory of the Dérive to Constant's Unitary Urbanism and Raoul Vaneigem's incendiary polemics. It's also well larded with illustrations. Now we can stop pretending to have read the situationists and actually read them. WW

Vincent Van Duysen: Complete Works, Thames & Hudson, £40
This is one of those minimalism bibles where the photography seems to be slathered in sex grease. It's an orgy of shadow-gaptastic detailing and smoothilicious wood and stone. Van Duysen is like Dom Hans van der Laan crossed with chocolate and banking. You've got to love it but then you've got to be a stockbroker monk to live in it. JM



Justin McGuirk and William Wiles

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Seven new architecture books come under the microscope, covering topics from Cedric Price and planning to struts and situationists

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