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.

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