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4.6 out of 5 stars57
4.6 out of 5 stars
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For anyone who is interested in houses this would make the perfect gift. On nice creamy paper it gives you a series of pen-and-wash drawings, with notes and bits of text, of houses (and churches, castles, manors and the like) with all those bits named; in a way that even the novice (like me) can understand. Just after reading it I can casually discuss string courses and pediments, mullions and transoms, oriels and pilaster; and even quoins and ogival cuspings. And what's more, it explains/shows it all in a way that is easygoing, very visual, and totally user-friendly.

It is subdivided into grammar (the recurrent terms), a vocabulary (that is the main part), a chapter on examples (like Castle Drogo, the Gem Cinema in Yarmouth, St Mary's in Beverley, the post office tower), and a chapter on materials (including a brilliant page on various brickwork styles).

A lovely little book. Makes a great gift if you're visiting someone; but you'd want a copy for yourself, too!
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on 11 July 2009
Rice's Architectural Primer
Almost totally composed of delightful ink and wash drawings, this book is worth buying just for the enjoyment of these alone. Then there's the cartoon characters which appear every so often. Such as the "Victimised Smoker" banished to stand outside the office porch for his cigarette whilst leaning against the "blocked architrave".
The book is written by Matthew Rice and my only criticism is - I would like to have known a little bit about him. All I can find is a reference to "My teacher" - but that person could have taught him the banjo for all we are told.
A great book. Thoroughly recommended.
Brain Willis
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on 5 August 2009
I feel bad for only giving this four stars, because it really is a lovely little book.

But that's the problem: it's too little. The format of the book itself is small - it's not a coffee-table tome but a standard book size, which compromises the charming illustrations somewhat - and the contents really aren't as comprehensive as the word 'Primer' would suggest.

As a Northerner,(though one who has lived in London for many years), I'm also a bit cross about the over-representation of Southern architecture. Liverpool, which boasts more listed buildings than anywhere except London, doesn't even rate a mention in Rice's book. The whole of Cheshire, which has Viking longhouses, numerous Norman churches and famous half-timbered Tudor streets, is represented by one building. Yet there are half a dozen illustrations of buildings which I distinctly recognise as being within ten minutes' walk of Oxford Circus!

There is also very little on domestic architecture, and although there's a final chapter entitled 'modern', it's very thin, and again, really only references public and corporate buildings.

This is a great book but Rice and his publishers need to up their game, and scope, for the second edition.

To the reviewer wanting to know who Matthew Rice is, he's an illustrator (obviously!) and co-owner of the Emma Bridgewater kitchen crockery empire. Her birds and animals are examples of his work, I believe.
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on 23 February 2010
The book is a visual feast, many pages of watercoloured architectural illustrations interspersed with pages of historical events viewed from the architects perspective.
I feel it's written by an illustrator, rather than an architect, so doesn't get to grips with the terminology - no glossary, just an index directing the reader to more illustrations.
My other gripe is that the emphasis is on stately homes, churches and the like, fine if that's what you want, but not much help when walking along the streets of a market town looking at the variety of domestic architecture.
Less is more, I think.
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on 9 July 2009
I didn't know i needed this book until it arrived in the post, but after reading it, it became plain that i had been walking around for years with my eyes shut. This is a wonderful little book perfect for young students needing information on architecture to older people like me who just want to wander around our towns and cities and understand what we are seeing. The illustrations are clear detailed and very easy on the eye, I loved this book. JudeH
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on 27 August 2009
It is some 50 odd years since I studied Architecture as a student and I wish something like this had been available at the time. Though he goes out of his way to point out that this is not a History of Architecture, Matthew Rice turns what can be an extremely complex, confusing and rather tedious subject into a lively interesting and colourful adventure. As he points out, ARCHITECTURE is all around us. If we can begin to understand the buildings we are looking at as we go shopping, on holiday or just take a leisurely stroll we can add so much to the experience. Beautifully illustrated in simple watercolour sketches the publication is a work of art worthy of a place on your favourite bookshelf.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2009
I'm a complete novice when it comes to Architecture but I have always had a great interest in historic buildings and churches and appreciate different building styles. I saw this book advertised on a recent Breakfast TV programme and I rushed to order it on Amazon.

What can I say, I am amazed! What a delightful little tome, lovely drawings of all sorts of different building styles and all described and annotated with correct names and terms. I am just endlessly fascinated everytime I dip into this book and I am now aware when I see buildings, that I can at last put a name to the cornice, pediment, doric porch, lantern tower and so on.

I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it.
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on 7 August 2009
Well presented analysis of architectural styles and details, with a touch of humour. Divided into historical periods with a few pages of explanation followed by more pages of hand drawn illustrations, well labelled. Sometimes it is a little unclear to which part of - say a column - the label refers, but overall a book to make you look again at buildings and appreciate what you see.
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on 20 January 2010
I love this book. I saw it, and had to have it. I spend a lot of time in and out of a Cathedral, courtesy of being parent of Chorister, and while I just about know where the nave and the quire are, the finer details of architecture are lost on me. This accessible book is going to change all that. All the beautiful sketches and illustrations bring it all to life with deceptive simplicity. Clear and simple. Perfect.
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on 7 March 2013
This is a beautifully produced book on good quality paper. The author's illustrations are very attractive and occasionally witty; the text is clear.

As an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of architecture, this book helpful, though I didn't find it particularly easy to use. The text is clear and easy to understand, but doesn't refer to the illustrations except for one occasion in the section on grammar. The section of example buildings is good, but not tied in properly to the foregoing text (example of this later). The gazetteer, a section listing buildings in different parts of Great Britain is also useful, giving the reader a set of examples they can go and see locally. Again, though, there's no cross-referencing to other parts of the book. The section on materials seems far too short to be more than minimally useful.

An example of how the book goes wrong over cross-referencing. On pages 76-77, there is a description Inigo Jones' Banqueting House in Whitehall, London. There's an illustration of this building on page 191, but no cross-reference in the text. What you realise, in the end, is that you have to look in the index to see if there's an illustration of the building you are reading about. This makes the book hard work, especially as often there isn't an illustration.

Even worse, the index itself is inconsistent. Many entries are under the name of the building, but not so with the Banqueting House. This is listed under London. The entire index is done this way, swapping between building name and place name. There are other odd editing things, such as the illustration of a building to visit in Bradford-on-Avon (p185) that is not given a name. I suspect an enterprising person could find it, but a name would help.

But these are all things that could be easily fixed to make an attractive and interesting book much more usable.

Having said all that, I still like this book and think it's worth buying if you're interested in learning a bit about architecture in a low key way.
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