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Western Architecture: A Survey from Ancient Greece to the Present (World of Art) Paperback – 31 Jan 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd (31 Jan. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500203164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500203163
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 0.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ms. OGHC London on 25 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In some respects you have to take your hat off to any author attempting to cover almost 3,000 years of western architecture in one volume. This is currently the main text for the Oxford university architectural online course (as of 2013), and in effect is a broad survey of the subject.

My main gripe with the text is that for every paragraph there can be up to four references of buildings not included in the illustrations, and these architectural mentions often hold tantalising claims of being the seminal work of its kind. Trying to visualise architectural concepts and techniques without pictures is nigh on impossible, so expect to work hard with this book, with your internet browser open to google image search beside you.

Another criticism is the author's sometimes strange and subjective commentary, leaving the reader to wonder what on earth was in mind (especially throughout the Renaissance and Baroque sections, comparing Brunelleschi, Alberti, Bramante and Borromini). For the casual reader, steer clear. But if you've time or incentive to work hard, it's rewarding to get a really good idea of the movements in chronological order, and to be able to pick apart the details of mannerism from, say, rococo. For all the frustrations that the lack of illustrations induces, it's given me a way in to gaining knowledge and a new appreciation of architectural styles that I perhaps would not have readily embraced---Romanesque churches and Cistercian monasteries for example, making this still a worthwhile read for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicolas on 8 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
This text was on the first year History of Architecture reading list and proved useful although quite difficult to get through due to the last proportion of text. I found it more useful when using it for reference in essays and clarifying trends and styles for my work. Definately useful, but more a book to dip in to as and when.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Piers A. Cooper on 7 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This, for an amateur student of architecture, gives a sweeping over-view of architecture in the west over the past 2000 years stopping off at interesting dates to look in more depth at the key styles and architects of the time. Top stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Giguere on 1 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very informative, well written and a pleasure to read. The author writes about important historical facts while remaining objective. It is well organized and well structured.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Comparison of Three Popular Architectural Histories 13 Jun. 2005
By Richard Tsuyuki - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As an architectural novice who recently decided to learn more about it, I checked three books out of the library: The Story of Western Architecture, by Risebero; Western Architecture, by Sutton, and The Story of Architecture, by Glancey. This is a brief comparison of the three.

Sutton: An attractive book with lots of coverage (I think more comprehensive than Risebero and certainly more than Glancey) and photos. The photos are black & white and unfortunately small due to the relatively small format of the (paperback edition) book. The text has a somewhat academic tone and concentrates on the buildings rather than the social theories expounded in Risebero's book.

Risebero: An impressive book with many detailed line drawings but no photographs. The line drawings obviously lack the details and total impact of photos but they also allow the author to emphasize and isolate features of interest; photos can frequently confuse the eye with an excess of detail. Also includes sketches that illustrate building principles, e.g., what "pendentives" are, ways to intersect arches, etc. Risebero provides socio-cultural material that attempts to explain the reasons behind historical trends, movements, etc. I suspect this material is controversial among architectural historians, as such attempts usually are, but I lack the background to judge whether it exhibits strong biases, political agendas, etc.

Glancey: A large-format book with beautiful color photographs. The only book of the three to include non-Western architecture, such as Africa, Asia, etc. The text is large-font and more simplistic in tone and content than the above two.

Conclusions: Sutton was somewhat dry, lacking the feeling of continuity created by a narrative line. In contrast, Risebero's social commentary made for a better "story" (hence the title, I guess), but I did have the sense of social ideas being imposed upon me without having the background to evaluate them. Glancey's book was quite short and simple - perhaps almost more of a young-adult sort of book. If I were to pick a winner, it would be Risebero, for excellent line drawings and a storytelling feel that kept my interest. The only real lack was some nice big color photos (a la Glancey), but you can't have everything.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Easy to understand and a pleasure to read 21 Dec. 2003
By misterbeets - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's always best to have this subject explained by a single author, as opposed to several, each expounding on his or her specialized area, overwhelming the reader. On the other hand, if it's presented too briefly, it becomes an impossible-to-remember chronology of unrelated buildings. This book, though, presents it in just the right depth, using an effortless and light writing style. Greek temples, the author points out, show "no hint of a way to get in".
Thus begins a story that, to paraphrase him, is complicated and impossible to simplify. Fortunately he explains it well: Romanesque is, in a way, the first Renaissance, as Charlemagne tries to associate his empire with Imperial Rome. The actual Renaissance is a transitional point because, for the first time, architecture is based on scholarship; this continues until the 19th century, as new archeological discoveries (early Doric columns had no bases) add to the repertoire.
And he claims that a totally unknown Modern architect is on a par with Wright, showing he's confident enough in the subject to think for himself.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Architecture of the Ages 8 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Western Architecture has many wonderful examples of old churches, catedrals and government buildings dating all the way back to the Roman Empire. Although this books has many great pictures, it spends very little time on domestic architecture and dosen't deal with many modern buildings.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Superb Introduction 29 May 2010
By Brian Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a splendid introduction to western architecture and its history. It's replete with interesting drawings and pictures that make it interesting and visually stimulating.

Another indispensible book to anyone interested in the origins of western architecture is Vitruvius: The Ten Books on Architecture.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 30 Nov. 2008
By S. Shuss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is very diverse and supplies a lot of pictures and diagrams to illustrate the points made in the text.
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