Upon flicking through "Extreme Architecture", I was immediately put on my guard by a number of projects that I would not normally consider falling within the domain of "extreme architecture" but rather "extreme folly". There are two ski jumps, a couple of floating spas, some concept CGIs for an underwater hotel, and Spaceport America in New Mexico. Testimony to my mind in how far the author has been prepared to stretch the interpretation of "Extreme" includes the inclusion of the Ice Hotel / Bars that now litter most capital cities. Is that extreme? Extreme commercialisation perhaps, but not extreme architecture. Also making the cut is the Snow Show in Sestriere - hardly `extreme' and more sculpture than architecture - including Foster's particularly banal GPS co-ordinates snow carving.
Upon further reading, my worst fears were confirmed - the book is littered with hotels, cruise terminals, arts, cultural centres, and spas and has the overall feeling of an Ypma "Hip Hotels" book rather than a serious architectural text. There is very little engagement with true `extreme' living and how vernacular solutions have evolved to cope with living at the limits of human endurance. Many of the projects included in the text seem to have very little do with responding to extreme climates and very much to do with having a `funky form' in order to attract tourists and visitors to this supposedly inhospitable environment. The one project that did catch my eye as a true extreme architectural engagement was Casa Segura - safe housing for border hoppers from Mexico heading into the US.
The presentation of the book is also inconsistent - some projects feature plans and sections, others just photos, and my overall impression is that the text could have been thinned out by about 75% through the judicious use of some clear environmental diagrams showing the main way the building moderates its `extreme' climate.
Lightweight, low-quality coffee table stuff.