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Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture (The MIT Press) Hardcover – 14 Mar 2014
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...there are few books I can think of that describe the emotional engagement with architecture with such acuity. And despite the subject, Bleak Houses is anything but a bleak read.--Richard Williams, The Times Higher Education
...this is one of the most intriguing, original and gently provocative books on the meaning of architecture for some while.--Architecture Review
...It's a book that all who not only write on architecture but who also have a genuine interest in the welfare of the historic built environment ought to read.--Alex Bremner, The Victorian
About the Author
Timothy Brittain-Catlin is a Reader at Kent School of Architecture, University of Kent. His writing has appeared in The World of Interiors, Architectural Review, and many other publications.
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Since the early-nineteenth century architectural writing has been dominated by notions of “morality” and “reality”; these the author attributes to the influence of the Gothic Revivalist, A.W.N.Pugin. Pugin’s discourse used the language of its time; but it set a bullying tone which survives in architectural criticism to this day. Contempt for “Sentimentality” on behalf of the architectural establishment has created a gulf between architects and those outside the profession. Sentimentality is fundamental to domesticity; Brittain-Catlin argues that novelists are much better at bringing architecture to life than architectural critics because they attach character and emotion to the houses in their works.
The book is not lavishly illustrated, but contains some interesting black and white photographs. This book will entertain the general reader. I would particularly recommend it to architecture students and to members or the profession wishing to know why they have lost their connection with the public.