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The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment 2nd Edition

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226036984
ISBN-10: 0226036987
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This book is offered as a contribution to the history of architecture as normally understood and was produced by fairly conventional modes of architectural history writing. When the research for the present study was first put in hand, the intention was to write a purely architectual history; to consider what architects had taken to be the proper use and exploitation of mechanical environmental controls, and to show how this had manifested itself in the design of their buildings.

About the Author

Reyner Banham (1922-88) was professor of history at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (December 15, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226036987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226036984
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. I read it in the early 1970's and it has to be a classic as it has stuck with me all this time. By suggesting that the mechanical and electrical apparatus of our modern dwellings is more important than decorative appearance it puts forward the seminal concepts that have driven the architecture of Sirs Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, and today's High-Tech Movement in architecture.
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By None on September 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fresh on the heels of reading his "Scenes of America Deserta" (SIC) I was prepared for some architectural pedantry and was pleasantly surprised to find a book provocative in content and full of wonderfully appropriate and obscure case studies. The previous review mentions some of the beneficiaries of Banham's writings e.g. Sir Norman Foster but another Sir worth mention is Sir Peter Cook of Archigram and his Archigram cohorts--as Banham's Wikipedia bio will note, he was a member of the Independent Group that was also anchored by Alison & Peter Smithson, and whose work seemed to predate that of Louis Kahn, many Brutalists like Kenzo Tange and Paul Rudolph. Instead, they shared a kinship with autodidacts like Archigram, Superstudio, Archizoom, Cedric Price, and one should also mention their Situationist brethren, from Constant Nieuwenhuys to Vito Acconci. In sum, Banham was there and the caliber and accuracy of his writing betrays the depth of what his involvement must have been.

That said, this book provokes consideration of the development of conditioned environments in buildings--innovations either taken for granted, or swept to the side by conventional architectural historians (and consequently by architects, asserts Banham) Remaining decidedly British in his skepticism, the author favors neither the functionalists nor the aesthetes who would hide the sometimes messy mechanical systems in order to achieve purely sculptural aims--but Banham bestows praise upon those for whom the product achieves a hybrid goal of form and function, with neither favored. His examples, from the Royal Hospital in Belfast to the Rinasce department store in Rome would be lost to history (in my opinion) had they not been set to print in this book.
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Format: Paperback
Banham was clever, curious, and creative.

He discovered that Wright's marvelous purportedly natural house got all sorts of technological help.

He discovered that the photos of the purportedly undecorated grain silos in Corbusier's Towards a New Architecture (Vers un architecture)were actually air-brushed to get rid of the ornament and support Corbu's philosophy/aesthetic sense.

He was dedicate to understanding and able to relate the motivations for new technologies to their evolution in a broader way than the narrower views of engineers who might focus on a single environmental control technology as though the environment (built or natural or both) could really be divided into such artificial and almost arbitrary compartments.

His acumen and wit were superb, unique, and are sorely missed as we face more urgent needs for understanding the built environment and its relationship to the larger one. He was a sort of early building ecologist.
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