British Council Architecture Design Fashion

Menu Show search

elegant embellishments' Book Selection

elegant embellishments' Book Selection  MLN LIBRARY ICON BY KOBY BARHAD


Allison Dring & Daniel Swagg explore three books that have inspired their practice as architects. 

Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment | Reyner Banham, 1984

Banham mourns the early disconnect between architecture and technology, specifically technologies tuned to the environmental spheres of buildings such as air conditioning and electric light. It reflects on the history of building in achieving a static structure, and underlines the conditions that often dominate the spaces we inhabit. We seek out these conditions and their technologies and employ them as architectural criteria that have shaping-forming abilities in our work.


Gravity’s Rainbow | Thomas Pynchon, 2013

The 1973 book offers fascinating glimpses of the rise of modern organic chemistry as a strategy of sustainability, necessitated by a deprivation of resources. If you can’t get something, synthesise it. Understand the interchangeability of matter and energy and shoot from the hip. Recede into the material-ephemeral continuum, in which all boundaries, nouns and concepts are but temporary semiotic props. Nothing is completely immaterial and nothing is solid. Anything essentially can become anything else.


The Wild Ass’s Skin | Honoré de Balzac, 1977

A portion of the story is in a curiosities shop, housing a collection of art objects that are forensic, contain traces of others, across time. The wild ass’s skin is an object within the shop that has mythological powers. Balzac paints the objects in this book in a way that they become spatial in the mind as they are read. They are ornamental and at the same time meaningless in form: their materiality is shrinking/fading; their power is in their myth, much like technology.