17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I was anxious to unpack this book, with its attractive, rough linen cover and its satisfying bulk. Finally, a comprehensive and upscale monograph on the work of this intelligent office! And indeed, the first impression is a good one: satisfying in the hand, attractive layout, very nice photos, and a graphic appendix on the research that parallels this office's planning. The disappointment sets in quickly and thoroughly, though, once one settles down with the book.
First of all (and this is most disappointing) is that absolutely NO site plans, floorplans, elevations or sections have been provided to explain the work. This is absolutely a cardinal sin in a book for serious architects, especially in the presentation of a work that has its primary strength in the intelligent planning of extremely small spaces in often difficult situations. We read in the text, on Bow-Wow's own studio for example, on the extemely difficult site and and the ingenious solution and are left completely frustrated for the lack of visual evidence. One has to wonder: who made this decision? The architects? (One prays not.) The graphic designers? The publisher? The exclusion of real architects' drawings sadly demotes this book to the "coffee table class": just look, and keep turning the pages... completely at odds with its content and quite puzzling for an office that otherwise uses drawings so well.
Second point: the texts, which might slow down our gaze and cause us to think, tend to be a bit academically strained. (To compare with other architects who specialized in small, cheap houses and research on local vernaculars, see for instance, the much more relaxed, less cramped verbal self-presentation of MLTW's work in the 1960s and 70s.) The tendency of translations from Japanese to English to sound rather clunky, while excusable, doesn't help matters.
Thirdly: the people at Rizzoli really fell down on the job of quality control on this one. Take a few examples from the copy editing (there are more): page 331, "Asia" and not "Aisa", "Management" and not "Manegement" (these both in a heading!); page 342, "Architectural" and not "Archutectual" (this four times!); page 343, "Rhythm" and not "Rythm" (again, in a heading), "Project" and not "Prject", etc, etc.. This is just sloppy handwork, and while we might be used to similar from the internet or from more "pulp" publications, there's no excuse for it in a book which presents itself as something made for long shelf life.
Which brings me to my last point: perhaps this book - in spite of its price and outward appearance - actually wasn't thought of as a durable good. At second glance, that spine does seems a bit fragile, and another 5 to 10 grams of weight for the paper would have surely been appropriate. And so, I have to think that in terms of its responsibility to the reader, text, presentation, and handwork this book follows that regrettable trend of consciously choosing appearance over substance.
Sort of like a typical "upscale" American sedan: behind all that leather and chrome which signal "value" is really a bunch of hasty handwork aimed at making a quick impact and a quick buck, and that will end up on the scrap heap much earlier than the buyer imagines.
Too bad: somebody let a potentially good book go bad.