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Architecture Depends [Paperback]

Jeremy Till
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Mar 2013
Architecture depends -- on what? On people, time, politics, ethics, mess: the real world. Architecture, Jeremy Till argues with conviction in this engaging, sometimes pugnacious book, cannot help itself; it is dependent for its very existence on things outside itself. Despite the claims of autonomy, purity, and control that architects like to make about their practice, architecture is buffeted by uncertainty and contingency. Circumstances invariably intervene to upset the architect's best-laid plans -- at every stage in the process, from design through construction to occupancy. Architects, however, tend to deny this, fearing contingency and preferring to pursue perfection. With Architecture Depends, architect and critic Jeremy Till offers a proposal for rescuing architects from themselves: a way to bridge the gap between what architecture actually is and what architects want it to be. Mixing anecdote, design, social theory, and personal experience, Till's writing is always accessible, moving freely between high and low registers, much like his suggestions for architecture itself.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (5 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262518783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262518789
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 233,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Boldly and elegantly, Architecture Depends asserts that architecture is absolutely dependent upon the 'contingent', difficult and perverse factors that architects have long tried to ignore in an effort to be pure, self-important and professional...What Till's book achieves is to set out with great clarity the territory in which the debate around future action must take place." Robert Mull Architects" Journal " Architecture Depends is an attempt to save the profession from itself and a manifesto for an architecture that acknowledges its relationship with the world and its duty to others...This is a brave, enjoyable, affirming and important book and I actually felt sad to have finished it." Flora Samuel, Times Higher Education (Book of the Week) "The book performs a wonderful contextualizing function, making architectural intervention, from idea to event, depend on the wide range of human habits and spheres of influence that we normally sum up as "the world"." Lucas Freeman Scapegoat "This is a brave, enjoyable, affirming and important book and I actually felt sad to have finished it." Flora Samuel Times Higher Education "Thought-provoking and important... Architecture Depends raises the question of the relationship of architecture and life to a new level." Anni Vartola Arkkitehti (Finland) "Till's book is about the world he knows and how one conveys ideas behind architecture. It is a superbly written, frequently fascinating set of arguments that will support architects who wish to use the messy stuff of life for their own advantage." Tim Abrahams Blueprint

About the Author

Jeremy Till is Head of Central St Martins/Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London, and a partner at Sarah Wigglesworth Architects. Their projects include the pioneering 9 Stock Orchard Street (The Strawbale House and Quilted Office), winner of multiple awards. He represented Britain at the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and important 25 Oct 2009
It may appear overstating the obvious, but Till's thesis that architects live in a bubble is important and timely, and put across with wit and erudition. I found the book accessible, engaging and very well written - the theory bits interspersed with anecdotes that bring the message to life. This is essential reading for architects and architectural students to remind them of the world beyond - and I say this as someone from outside the discipline who has been let down by architectural conceit. I could have done with a few more examples of the argument in practice.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Within the first ten pages of starting Jeremy Till's Architecture Depends, I found myself asking - who precisely is this book aimed at? Whilst I wholeheartedly approve of Till's critique of Foster's McLaren Centre, I did get the feeling I was the converted being preached to.

In writing this book, I assume that Till is reaching out to the Foster fanboys (and those aspiring to deliver the next wave of cold, sterile, corporate architecture), and I have the impression that Till believes that majority of industry participants aspire to achieve this sort of greatness, and the style of work of Foster / Koolhaas / Liesbkind / any other big name architect. Whilst you would certainly think this were the case from the eulogising of the AJ about Lord Foster's projects, in my experience, very few younger architects have a starchitect - be it work or status - as their motivation. Most of us find them quite vulgar, inconsistent and passé.

Till's writing tone moves between the intellectual highbrow and the colloquial with uncomfortable speed and frequency. I suspect this in itself is a test; some sort of exercise to see how well the reader can cope with the stark juxtaposition of formal and informal. As you learn from the very outset of this book, Till argues that as architects we should be more happy to embrace the chaos, the unpredictable, the contingencies imposed upon us of the real world. He questions why we are so obsessed with order.

I do agree with Till's concerns that too many of today's buildings are the distillation of Platonic principles or boring concepts reduced to diagrams, held on to with far too much fervour by the designer, rendering them uninteresting to users. Do people really care about folding planes or "layering"?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 18 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book, and very important to the discipline of architecture. Till provides a narrative that situates architecture as a human discipline in a rich vein of social theory, and reveals the thinkers who we a architects should be paying close attention to, from De Certeau to Lefebvre, rather than trying to appropriate architectural theory from algorithms or literary theory. He is placing architecture in the context of the human, and not as isolated objects frozen in time.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the world needs now 30 Oct 2009
We need people like Till.
More than ever what we design, inflict, invent for the world needs scrutiny and instinct in equal measure.
At the risk of professional misunderstanding, Till gives his profession the chance to turn a seeming negative into a positive.
For those in the next generation, with designs on our planet, they could no better than to read this !
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2.0 out of 5 stars it is a good one) in one witty paragraph 29 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
He could have sumarized his topic (even though, it is a good one) in one witty paragraph.
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