Adam Caruso's collection of thoughts on architecture succinctly capture the zeitgeist of the rejection of showy, ego-driven architect in favour of quieter, less spectacular, but more powerful and emotive, construction-driven architecture. The last decade in has witnessed, to quote Caruso, architects, "like toddlers chaotically exploring their new upright world.... Testing the boundaries of [their] expanded territory in an experimental and haphazard way.... In the absence of legitimate cultural imperatives, many architects continue to pursue novelty as their prime objective, transplanting forms from product design, statistical analysis and other disciplines."
As you can tell from those sentences, this book explains Caruso St. John's focus on a more tectonically and emotively focused architecture, one that is less shouty but strives for greater longevity and monumentality. Whilst such ideas are becoming increasingly well received due to the success of architects like Sergison Bates, Peter Zumthor, CSJ, Olgiati and Bearth & Deplazes, Adam Caruso presents his points with eloquence and astute historical metaphor.
In many ways, the essays reminded me of Sergison Bates's Papers 2. Adam Caruso's knowledge of architecture clearly is vast, and I expect far greater than the majority of the people reading this book. Consequently, my one criticism of this book would be that, whilst some of the buildings and spaces that Caruso refers to in the second half of the book are eloquently described, the book may have benefited from a few more, and larger, images for those unfamiliar. With Papers 2, whilst not overflowing with images, I felt Sergison Bates were more successful in keeping the unsophisticated reader (which I very much categorise myself as) with them.
I will probably go through it again whilst googling some of the buildings I don't know as a visual aid.
I have to agree with the reviewer above that this book would be improved by one or two more photographs in certain sections. However please don't let that put you off. After nearly six years of studying architecture, this is one of the best books I've read. It's not simply for architects either, as anyone interested in design would have no problem understanding it.
Essentially, the simplicity of the book's style is a reflection upon Caruso's thoughts on architecture - that it should serve its purpose well, be accessible to all, be free of gimmicks and architectural snobbery and shouldn't try to stand out from its neighbours by being flashy. It reads easily and is nothing like as dry as the cover might suggest.
Neither in favour of inhuman, oversized skyscrapers nor fake historic pastiche, our cities would be better slightly places if more architects and designers read this book.
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Brilliant, thoughtful and evocative. This deceptively thin book is packed with many profound thoughts about the conditions of contemporary architectural practice. Not a project book, the text in here admits a theoretic bias, an opportunity for a leading practicioner to step outside of practice and analyse through various essays themes of importance and interest. Some of these subjects are an outright challenge to modern othodoxy, whilst others seem ultra conservative. Either way the writing is engaging and concise. An excellent read!
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