Modern Masters: Contemporary Architecture From Around The World, by Steve Huyton
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Edelweiss/Schiffer Publishing.]
The ideal reader of this book is someone who is looking to build the sort of home that will end up in Architectural Digest or some other magazine of that stature and has a plot of land that either has immense scenic vistas or, alternatively, serious design constraints and enough money to afford world-class architecture of a progressive modernist or post-modernist nature. Alternatively, the next most ideal reader to this is someone who has a taste for quirky architecture that reminds one of the best sort of works by Frank Lloyd Wright or Pierre Koenig or others of that kind . Although I am not possessed of a worthy plot of land and hundreds of thousands of dollars of money, I do have an enjoyment of unusual and striking exterior and interior design and so I appreciate this work even if I am unlikely to enjoy invitations to these buildings or those like them built by the firms discussed in this excellent and gorgeous book as modern masterpieces of residential design. Readers who share these interests will likely find much to enjoy, even vicariously, about these beautiful houses.
This book consists of slightly more than 200 pages of material that is divided between various residential architects from all over the world that show off some of the housing work that they have done. There is a wide diversity of places these houses have been built or renovated, from Europe (Spain, Germany, the UK, Turkey, Norway) to Australia, Japan, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South Africa. The houses themselves vary from fancy bachelor pads in Istanbul to an unusually angled house on a challenging lot in Japan to a house whose architecture was based on chicken coops to houses with designs inspired by complicated mathematical phenomena like the Mobius strip. The houses have a wide variety of materials used in their design, from wood to concrete to cloth to brick to steel, along with a large quantity of glass. Likewise, there are designs here that show the modernist approach, some with a daring curvilinear approach characteristic of post-modernism, and some that are involved in historical renovation of a more old-fashioned way. There are also some striking similarities, such as a commitment to alternative sources of energy, high concept design, and building forms that work well for the client as well as blending in harmony with the surrounding creation, whether natural or built-up.
There is much to appreciate about a book like this, which reads as a high-class sort of sales prospectus for those interested in high-end residential design. Even without being in that sort of a market myself, this is certainly a book that one would appreciate reading. It is a book that one can read for ideas as well as an appreciation of beautiful designs, the sort of book that some people will be able to read practically in search of elite architects in search of worthy projects, and a book that one can leave on one’s coffee table with a high degree of certainty that house guests will be appropriately impressed at one’s taste in architecture. Everything about this book is demonstrative of good taste, of clean lines, of a sound attention to materials and aesthetic appeal as well as practical concerns and environmental sustainability. Those who fancy themselves to possess good taste with an interest in residential design would be well-served to give this book an appreciative read, as this is not the sort of book that will disappoint such a demographic.
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