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Architecture: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Ballantyne
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This highly original and sophisticated look at architecture helps us to understand the cultural significance of the buildings that surround us. It avoids the traditional style-spotting approach in favour of giving an idea of what it is about buildings that moves us, and what it is that makes them important artistically and culturally. The book begins by looking at how architecture acquires meaning through tradition, and concludes with the exoticism of the recent avant garde.
Illustrations of particular buildings help to anchor the general points with specific examples, from ancient Egypt to the present day.

Product Description


a densely fascinating guide (Steven Poole, The Guardian Review)

an excellent introduction to architecture ... one to recommend to students, friends and family, which is quite an achievement! (Robert Tavernor, University of Bath)

There is really no better book out there. Ballantyne is a beautiful stylist, and the book combines intellegence with a completely beguiling wruterly style. (Sunday Herald (Glasgow))

will justify the ambition of every young and aspiring architect - but will also stimulate anyone at all curious about buildings ... Clear and jargon-less it shows how all buildings - good, bad and indifferent - are the truest indicators of the state of a society and of its culture. (Joseph Rykwert, University of Pennsylvania)

About the Author

Andrew Ballantyne qualified and practised as an architect, and then moved into academic work. He has held research and teaching posts at the universities of Sheffield, Bath, and Newcastle, where he is now Professor of Architecture. He has written on architectural history and theory, and his previous books are Architecture, Landscape and Liberty (CUP, 1997) and What is Architecture? (Routledge, 2002).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1128 KB
  • Print Length: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (22 Aug. 2002)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801791
  • ASIN: B003CI90VM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #70,708 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building on Culture 27 Jun. 2006
This book tackles a complex subject with elan. Like all good introductions it stimulates a desire to learn more. Historic examples are chosen not only for their intrinsic value but also as emblems of differing cultural sensibilities. This gives the reader that most valuable tool, critical interpretation. Andrew Ballantyne has an elegant writing style with the ability to explain complexe ideas in a clear and entertaining way.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the built environment and more importantly a desire to understand it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Introduction 4 Aug. 2011
This is an excellent book if you are taking interest in architecture for the first time. The book only has 3 chapters, but this provides an excellent way of structuring the book. All 3 of the chapters explore the same or very similar concerns, but from 3 different directions. This gives a very rounded account of the ideas and concerns explored in this little book. Chapter 1 covers the introduction of the concerns of architecture, i.e. not just the aesthetic appreciation of as building, but also the different ways in which we might respond to a building, concerns of it function and how a building becomes to be built the way is. Chapter 2 covers the western tradition of architecture illustrating a history where classic forms such as pillars, domes and simple designs reoccur and are reacted against as tastes come and go. However the key point is not that these forms are eternal, but that they have relevance in different ways at different times and in this way chapter 2 builds on the concerns of chapter 1. Chapter 3 explores the idea of what makes a building great. This chapter draws on more recent 20th century architecture to help illustrate the point, contrasts and similarities are drawn in such a way as to show that the concerns explored in chapters 1 and 2 are still relevant today . I was particularly impressed with the compare and contrast of the Parthenon and the Pompidou Centre. It was very interesting reading a discussion that can pull two such contrasting buildings together and identify how they address similar functions, but in such contrasting ways. This structuring of the book meant that pictures of buildings could be introduced in a space efficient way, as the first images could be referred to several times to make different points. Finally the further reading section is well worth a look as it reference 3 introductory books that look very useful and aimed at interested novice readers.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rotten to the foundations. 31 Oct. 2005
By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE
There is nothing wrong with introducing architecture from a sociological and cultural perspective, rather than the conventional approach of timelines, styles and schools. It's just that Ballantyne is not very good at it. Thus we have rambling, incoherent musings on what it means to be 'at home'. "Architecture is gesture made with buildings", the author assures us. Maybe so, but I would have appreciated a description of what those gestures were and how they evolved over time. Who built what, when, how and why? Instead we get constant reminders that it is all a matter of interpretation and perspective. An introduction to this subject should be a concrete foundation on which to build further knowledge. Ballantyne amuses himself with conceptual sandcastles and smiles knowingly as they get washed away by each new wave of speculation. Presenting architecture in a broad cultural context is a commendable aim, but to do it you need to have a firm grasp of that context. Informing the reader that philosophy is an 'idea' that was developed in Athens and 'Tragedy is farce in close-up' simply will not do. This is undergraduate essay stuff.
Let it be said that the 25 annotated illustrations are excellent. Each is of a famous building, accompanied by informative text. More of that kind of thing and less of the foggy narrative in which they are embedded, and this could have been a much better book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good book 1 Jan. 2011
By rjk
nice little book. well written from an informative point of view. i feel slightly more clever now i have read this book. the VSI series is great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book 2 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by my lecturer. Good read to get you started with your studies and move into the world of architecture.
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