Tag Archives: new books

NEW BOOKS: Parliamentary Photographs

Cover for Parliaments of the European Union
Credit: www.ideabooks.nl

Happy Wednesday everybody! New Graduate Research Assistant Colin Morgan here, bringing back the New Books segment of Battle Hall Highlights! Today, I want to highlight one of my favorite books to arrive at the Architecture Library since I started working. Dutch photographer Nico Bick‘s Parliaments of the European Union comprises of thirty photographs of European parliamentary houses, twenty-eight for each of the member states, two for the European Union’s parliament. Outside of two brief introductions, there’s no text in the book aside from captions noting the name of the country and the name of the building. The interiors Bick captures have to speak for themselves.

And united in one bound volume, they do speak. Countries whose histories have featured the accumulation of wealth and notable royal bloodlines, like Spain’s Congreso de los Diputados, hold massive portraits, statues, the country’s crest. The book’s size (it’s a folio) and fold-out style (each photograph folds out onto three or four page, with clear demarcations paneling that section of the photo within the page) fit well with Bick’s human’s-eye-view style of photography. In looking at the photograph, your eye has to crane up the way your head would have to if you were in the actual room, allowing a stimulation of experiencing the overwhelming decor in person. Without a single human face in any of the photographs, the power of these states are shown, not told.

States without that extensive history of wealth have more office-like, anonymous parliaments. The state exists as a functionary device, not as something integral to the identity or culture of the nation. Lithuania’s Seimas, for instance, contains no mark of the nation’s history beyond a crest and the flag. The photograph’s size provides plenty of negative space for the upper two-thirds, as the parliament’s white wall dominates the upper levels of the photograph. Your eye is kept to the bottom, gliding along the chairs and desk on the ground. For parliaments where your eye is mainly focused at one level, you would notice that the most common motif in the book is the presence of computer screens.

Without a human presence, the high number of screens, for the majority of parliaments in the text one per chair, become the photograph’s subjects. Even more so than international histories, computers are the “main character” of Parliaments. The screens, just as much as the European Union’s parliamentary building, are what allow these states to connect with one another. Without explicitly dating the parliaments’ construction in the captions, Bick’s book presents them all as modern structures, with the reader contextualizing the spaces. The modern structure, just like the modern state or the modern economy, can no longer exist in isolation. The interior photographs of buildings dozens or hundreds of miles away from each other highlight how connected they all are.

You can put Nico Bick’s Parliaments of the European Union on hold at the Architecture & Planning Library here.

New Books: January Edition

New books newsletter is back a second time this month! Surprisingly, both the books kind of belong to a similar category: Social Design. These books give an in-depth look into designing, especially, addressing social issues of  our times.

Design Solutions for Urban Densification by Sibylle Kramer

Design solutions coverStudies show that about 3 million people move to the cities every week! Apart from the privilege of having SoulCycle at every corner, cities provide better education, infrastructure and more importantly, culture. Therefore, getting our cities right should be the order of the day. There are two ways to do this, one is getting on to the suburban craze of “sprawl” (ugh! Boring!) or retrofitting our inner cities to suit the incoming populace. This book deals with the latter.

This essentially means that “even the smallest building gaps are closed, peripheral block buildings are complemented, small buildings are replaced by larger ones, living spaces are created by reuse, plots are divided and inner courtyards are used for construction.” If you’re good at Tetris, you will probably be good at this urban retrofitting thing. One such example is the Cordoba-Reurbano Housing building in the historical La Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. As a part of an urban recycling initiative, it adds on a succession of terraces and built residential volumes on top of a historic building.

Design Solution for Urban Densification presents 41 outstanding projects of urban redensification that illustrate the different approaches adopted by architects and planners to build for the cities today. Explore a range of amazing and surprising unconventional buildings and creative solutions across the entirety of the book with graphical plans and detailed sections and of course lots of beautiful photo spreads.


Social Design: Participation and Empowerment by Claudia Banz, Michael Krohn and Angeli Sachs

Social design coverSocial Design talks about designing for the society… with the society, addressing complex social issues of our times through the perspective of interdisciplinary design. It addresses 25 international projects that represent unique solutions and tackle the redesign of social systems. The projects range a wide breadth of topics from creating human scale neighborhoods in China  to sustainable weaving communities in Ethiopia. These are framed by three essays that talk about Social design in the past and present, it’s job in education/ research and the concept of plan making  in shaping socially conscious societies.

Paper emergency shelters for UNHCR Shigeru Ban. Byumba Refugee camp, Rwanda
Paper emergency shelters for UNHCR Shigeru Ban. Byumba Refugee camp, Rwanda

Antonio Scarponi's Teh Campo Libero (The innocent house) was designed for Italian organization, Libera. This mobile, self sufficient and reversible pavilion is a tool in this process.
Antonio Scarponi’s Teh Campo Libero (The innocent house) was designed for Italian organization, Libera. This mobile, self sufficient and reversible pavilion is a tool in this process.

Some of the feature projects include Fairphone, 10,000 Gardens for Africa (Slow Food Foundation), Paper emergency shelters for UNHCR by Shigeru ban among a few.

So Many New Books at APL!

Just as the semester is coming to close, APL received a bunch of new books. To follow is a selection of the ones that appealed most to me- monographs on Piranesi and The Dakota, respectively, and two works on architectural types, the English Cottage and the Russian wooden church. But you should stop in and see the the lot of them yourself!

Minor, Heather Hyde. Piranesi’s Lost Words. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015.

According to Heather Hyde Minor:

The books he [Piranesi] produced were his most powerfully creative art. The complex and compelling story found in the pages of his folios reveals that Piranesi was not just fiercely talented artist but an extraordinary author. (pg. 209)

MinorMinor examines the career of Piranesi as an author. Her first two chapters consider reader reception of his work, Antichità romane, in the twenty-first and eighteenth centuries, respectively. The next three chapters are each dedicated to one of Piranesi’s texts and its larger context: Campus Martius antiquae urbis, Della magnificenza ed architettura de’ Romani, and Diverse maniere d’adornare i cammini ed ogni altra parte degli edifizi desunte dall’architettura Egizia, Etrusca e Greca. Finally, Minor traces the history of Piranesi’s works after his death. Ultimately, Minor seeks to create an understanding about the relationship between the images of the texts and the texts themselves (pg. 1-12).

Alpern, Andrew. The Dakota: A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building. With contributions by Christopher S. Gray. Photographs by Kenneth G. Grant. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.

AlpernIn his monograph on The Dakota, Andrew Alpern includes a wide variety of evidence in his documentation of the apartment building. The topics addressed include historical context, location, architect, patron, its iconic stature, the residents, and preservation. Mia Ho contributed new plans of the apartment building. Historical and current photographs in addition to other archival material are reproduced for the book. Finally, Alpern has included 10 documents, published between 1878 and 1889 about The Dakota in the appendices.

Maudlin, Daniel. The Idea of the Cottage in English Architecture, 1760-1860. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Daniel Maudlin writes:

MaudlinThe Idea of the Cottage in English Architecture is the history of the architect-designed cottage between 1760 and 1860. The architect-designed cottage, predominantly expressed in new designs for small buildings on country estates and large villas by the sea, was the product of specific discourses in English architectural writings on landscape, rural retreat and the simple life. (pg. 1)

I selected this work, because I often find books related to cottages and landscape in Special Collections. If you are interested in this topic, we have great primary source material- some of which has be represented on Battle Hall Highlights.

Khodakovsky, Evgeny. Wooden Church Architecture of the Russian North: Regional Schools and Traditions (14th-19th Centuries). New York: Routledge, 2016.

Evgeny Khodakovsky writes:

KhodakovskyMy deep immersion in this rich and varied material also engendered a conviction that it should be made accessible to more than only a Russian-speaking audience. With this publication of an academic survey of the wooden architecture of the Russian North in English, my aim is to see it included in the history of world art as the most Russian phenomenon within Russian architecture, free of any sort of external influences or involvements.  A further factor of no small importance is that the book represents a response to the long-standing interest in wooden architecture as one of the components of Russian national artistic culture that has been manifested by English-language writers as far back as the mid-sixteenth century… (pg. xiii)

His chapters address issues related to source material, geography, historical interest, and typology. Flipping through the book, I would say that I wish it was more extensively illustrated. There are some great black and white photos of the churches and construction details; however, the drawings and interior photographs are limited.

New Books at the Architecture and Planning Library: Fragments of Metropolis Berlin

Lehmann, Niels and Christoph Rauhut. Fragments of Metropolis Berlin: Berlin’s Expressionist Legacy. Introduction by Hans Kolhoff. Translated by Philip Shelley. Munich: Hirmer, 2015.

Fragments_of_Metropolis_BerlinTwo short articles, one by Hans Kolhoff and the other by Christoph Rauhut, are offered by way of introduction in which the authors seek to situate the importance of Expression in architectural history.  Kolhoff writes:

The Expressionists believed in a modernity that emerged from tradition but without rupture and which denied all forms of the purely stylistic; this was how they were able to achieve their own style. For us they represent ‘another Modernism’, that was intuitively opposed to that kind of white Modernism before it was ever celebrated as the International Style. (pg. viii)

Most of the book is dedicated to creating a record of Expressionism in Berlin, consisting primarily of photographs accompanied occasionally by a drawing, whether plan, section, or elevation. Lehamann and Rauhut write:

The surviving fragments are witnesses of an avant-garde that gave expression to a new society through architecture: the buildings are built utopias.  (Preface)

The book itself is thus an attempt to bear witness to the surviving fragments.

New Books at the Architecture and Planning Library: Codesigning Space

Marlow, Oliver and Dermot Egan. Codesigning Space: A Primer. London: TILT and Artifice Books on Architecture, 2013.

According to Marlow and Egan:

Pertinent to the codesign approach is an understanding that it is the people that use the space who give purpose to it, who activate and animate it with their encounters and insights, and who imbue it with meaning. With this in mind, it has become imperative to develop a way to engage those people, the end-users in a process that embeds their ideas, ambitions and creativity into the final product, be it a building, a space, furniture or services. It is these people who know best what they need from design. This endows the designer with a role unlike the one that is traditionally expected; it requires the designer to work with intuition and to facilitate creativity and cultivate existing tensions into productive contributions. (pg. 53-54)


The primer includes TILT’s manifesto along with a series of short articles or interviews on the theory underpinning their practice of codesign and examples of the types of workshops and exercises that TILT undertakes with all stakeholders.

Introductory illustration to Practice

New Books at the Architecture and Planning Library: Selling the Dwelling

Cheek, Richard. Selling the Dwelling: The Books that Built America’s Houses, 177-2000. New York: The Grolier Club, 2013.

Richard Cheek’s Selling the Dwelling is the corresponding publication to the exhibit of the same name hosted by the Grolier Club in New York. He writes of his motivation for the exhibit:

I became intrigued by the promotional aspect of both architectural literature and commercial catalogues, as produced from the country house era through the post-World War II building boom. How were these publications selling the dwelling? What sort of ideal home were they marketing, and to whom were they appealing? The exhibition here at the Grolier Club and the visual history that accompanies it attempt to answer these and related questions, beginning with the publication of the first American architectural book in 1775 and extending to the end of the twentieth century, when Web sites began to replace printed house design catalogues. (pg. 7)


The work is arranged chronologically; each chapter has a brief introduction to the historical period to provide a bit of background for the illustrations that follow. The greatest feature of Selling the Dwelling is the great number of illustrations of primary documents- books, catalogues, magazines, ephemera, toys, and other objects. For those with a budding interest in the transmission of architectural ideas with regard to American domestic architecture, this work would be an ideal introduction. If you happen to find a publication of interest, do be sure to follow up with  a search in the Architecture and Planning Library. We might just have it.

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.