Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Architecture: A World History

Architecture: A World History is a thick pocket-sized book presenting the broad sweep of architecture through the ages. Arranged chronologically from the earliest prehistoric structures, this book presents medium’s evolution up through some of the more innovative works of the early 21st century. Its 512 pages include more than 600 color illustrations of buildings from throughout the world.

The book is divided into 10 sections, each encompassing an historical epoch -- “Pre- and Early History,” “Antiquity and Early Christianity,” Romanesque,” “Gothic,” Renaissance,” Baroque,” “Neoclassicism,” “19th Century,” “20th Century 1900 to 1945,” and “Architecture after 1945.” Each section begins with a time line and consists of a series of two to four page chapters on the various styles, movements, regions or architects deemed most significant during that period. The earliest named architects appear in the Renaissance; the following sections are all dominated by the notable creators in the field. These entries include brief biographies and note each architect's major works, usually including a color photograph.

There are sections including non-Western buildings such as East Asian Religious Architecture, Ancient Pueblos, Southeast Asia (limited to the 11th to 15th centuries), the Mughal Empire, etc... However, the greatest attention is given to monumental works of the West. There are also chapters on Urban Planning (in Paris) and on Building Techniques (most of the sections include such a chapter).

The book includes a helpful and detailed index. Individual buildings are indexed under the heading of the country where they are located. Architect and architectural styles are also indexed. Terms defined in the course of the text are included here, in italics.

Architecture: A World History is a visually exciting, information-packed introduction to architecture and buildings through the ages. It is an excellent resource for the autodidact wishing to master the fundamentals of the subject, or for someone interested in skimming the rich variety of structures created by human-kind across the millennia.

Architecture: A World History
by Daniel Borden Jerzy Elźanowski, Cornelia Lawrenz, Daniel Miller, Adele Smith and Joni Taylor (Abrams,2008).

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