Survey, the newest addition to Park Books’ ongoing Architecture Iconographies series, is an examination of architectural drawings, paintings, maps, and photographs from the last five centuries. Rather than attempting to showcase the full range of images from such an eventful and prolific epoch, the book chooses instead to present its subject via six essays, each of which focuses on a single architect or scholar. Through these essays – which mostly focus on 18th-19th century drawings of classical architecture, many of them from the UK’s Drawing Matter collection – the book makes the argument that surveys are not just visual renderings of buildings, but also an integral part of the way those buildings are perceived and understood.
The post-Soviet architecture of Ukraine is a complex and often fraught subject we’ve frequently explored on this site. Kyiv’s Osnovy Publishing is at the forefront of documenting the Soviet architectural legacy, as well as its newfound vernacular architecture, via numerous books that illustrate the patchwork approach to building and city planning in Ukraine since 1990. Its Chic series in particular – which began with 2019’s Balcony Chic, and now continues with Orthodox Chic – offers a deadpan view of the motley, often improvised constructions that define the modern Ukrainian cityscape.
HISTORY, WHETHER THROUGH its presence or its absence, informs the architecture of modern Japan to a much greater degree than it does in many other countries. One one hand, the country’s millennia-long political, religious, and artistic history permeates its architectural culture to a tremendous degree, serving as an endless wellspring of inspiration and guidance for successive generations of architects and designers. On the other, Japanese architecture since 1868 (the beginning of the Meiji era that defines “modern” Japan) and especially since WWII has countless examples of structures that eschew homegrown traditions in favor of European and global styles, with some architects pursuing a specifically futurist and ahistorical aesthetic. The unprecedented building boom of the postwar period saw Japan emerge as a relentlessly forward-looking and technology-oriented society, with emerging megacities expanding at a breakneck pace.
The architectural firm Shinsoken (“New Material Research Laboratory”), founded in 2008 by artist Hiroshi Sugimoto and architect Tomoyuki Sakakida, takes as its mission statement the paradox inherent in its name:
Notwithstanding its name, New Material Research Laboratory examines materials from ancient and medieval times and focuses its activities on reinterpreting and reimagining the use of these materials in the present.
Old is New, from Lars Müller Publishers, documents the studio’s impressive body of work from the past 13 years. In texts arranged geometrically alongside a generous spread of interior and exterior photos, the studio’s founders discuss their approach to architecture and design, giving particular attention to the use of old (or even ancient) materials and traditional techniques.
THE FIRST GUIDE of its kind, Chechnya and North Caucasus: An Architectural Guidebook explores the diverse architecture of one of the former Soviet Union’s least-explored regions. The seven independent republics and two Russian territories that make up the relatively small North Caucasus region represent an incredible array of languages, cultures, religions, and traditions, and offer a correspondingly broad range of architectural highlights, from modernism and brutalism to traditional and Islamic-inspired hybrids.
MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE IN Berlin is, understandably, a subject heavy with the weight of history. The decades spent rebuilding from the devastation of WWII while split down the middle by two hostile powers meant that, for many building projects, aesthetics played a distant secondary role to functionality. Nonetheless, the severely limited building resources of both East and West did not stop the proliferation of bold, elegant Modernist constructions on both sides of the Wall. With entire neighborhoods in ruins and a postwar population in desperate need of housing and infrastructure, the buildings would be build regardless; the question for posterity was who could transcend the limited resources provided and make a lasting aesthetic impression on the cityscape.
ORIGINALLY FROM NEW Zealand, photographer Cody Ellingham traveled to Tokyo on a scholarship in 2012. He ended up staying for six years, and while exploring the country’s staggeringly vivid and varied cityscapes he began photographing danchi, the massive public housing projects built in the aftermath of WWII. Like many such postwar projects in both the Soviet bloc and Western Europe, danchi took a core utopian vision and expanded it into vast, blocks-long megastructures capable of housing thousands. And, as is also often the case with utopian architecture, the decades since have not always been kind to the buildings themselves and those who depend on them.
ALTHOUGH BY NEARLY any measure the explosive growth of China’s cities in recent decades has been unprecedented in world history, the real growth has not yet even begun: by some estimates, nearly half of all construction worldwide in the next decade will happen in China. But while the sheer scale of the country’s population and infrastructure will necessarily remain part of the discussion, there are signs that the true story of China’s cities in the 21st century will lie in smaller details. Beauty and the East: New Chinese Architecture, out now in Germany from gestalten (with a worldwide release on March 30), focuses on the country’s comparatively smaller-scale architectural projects such as museums, cultural centers, monasteries, and private residences. On the whole, the projects selected for the book represent the nascent Chinese Modernism that has emerged over the past two decades, with features such as raw concrete, whitewashed walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows standing alongside much older structures and forms.