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An interesting concept but of little practical help
on 2 December 2013
George Clarke has created an interesting niche for himself in the UK TV scheduling preoccupation with 'house porn'. Many of these formats are pretty tired and repetitive, but the architectural/design focus of much of his work has offered a fresh and (for me) more interesting new perspective. Having said that, I cannot pretend that the programmes in this series were 'must see' broadcasts nor this book a 'must buy' purchase.
In essence, the book reflects the series' focus on managing limited space in some very interesting, generally 'compact' (in estate agent speak) living spaces. Some of these spaces had a wow factor because of the eccentricity of the design (the egg house), the relevance to many people (the ambulance mobile holiday home), the intrinsic beauty and/or audacity of the design (the mirrored tree house), or the way a design seemed to offer viable solutions for aspects of the current UK housing crisis (the hexagon unit house - unfortunately missing from the book, as far as I can see).
A strength of the book is that one gets to see lots of images of lots of more or less interesting projects: how one reacts to these projects will vary according to taste/relevance. A weakness of the book is that its focus is so diffuse that one learns little about any of the projects and the book is so 'busy' in style and format that I doubt it has much practical use. Those who saw the series will be getting less than they viewed: those who didn't will, I suspect, be rather confused by it and see little point in it, at least as a purchase - fine if borrowed from a library.
Perhaps the authors should have held their nerve a little more and focused on 5 or so case studies, giving more attention to specific problems, solutions, etc for a range of small spaces eg, a case study for a mobile dwelling, a holiday retreat, recycling a pre-existing space, and so on.
I should add that while I wouldn't dream of buying a book related to Grand Designs, or Location, Location, Location or Sarah Beeny in a range of formations, I WOULD dream of buying this book. But having had the chance to look at it pretty closely, I wouldn't buy it, though it might make an appropriate gift for someone struggling with limited domestic space who is looking for ideas. A pity: I like George Clarke's approach and the fact that this is a different response to our endless domestic obsession.