Eerie Architecture - Livres du Mois
In October's Livres du Mois we explore books on architecture, in particular the eerie kind of architecture. It is October after all. From the lost mansions and palaces of the world to the language of architecture. We begin with The Lost House Revisited, an exploration of the once-celebrated grand houses that were abandoned to ruin.
The Lost House Revisited
"The artist Ed Kluz has a fascination for the sites of lost buildings. Once-celebrated grand houses that were abandoned to ruin, burned or deliberately destroyed have become the haunting subject matter of his distinctive collages. Kluz studies old engravings, plans and descriptions in order to build a full mental picture of a house; he compares the act of creating a collage to that of model-making, with each architectural element meticulously cut from paper and pasted, layer upon layer, on a background of inks.
His lost houses conjure up the vanished buildings in all their pomp, existing not in the re-created landscape, but rather illuminated by theatrical lighting. In his introduction to the book, Tim Knox describes Kluz’s views of houses as heirs to the highly finished perspective drawings produced by architectural artists in centuries past; he also draws parallels with the bold graphic tradition of Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden.
Among the English houses featured in depth are the Tudor palace of Holdenby House, the magnificent mansion of Hamstead Marshall, Vanbrugh’s Eastbury Park, and the grandiosely Gothic Fonthill Abbey. Each house is introduced by Olivia Horsfall Turner, who details its history and fate."
Rice's Language of Buildings
"This beautifully illustrated book covers the grammar and vocabulary of British buildings, explaining the evolution of styles from Norman castles to Norman Foster. Its aim is to enable the reader to recognise, understand and date any British building.
As Matthew Rice says, 'Once you can speak any language, conversation can begin, but without it communications can only be brief and brutish. The same is the case with architecture: an inability to describe the component parts of a building leaves one tongue-tied and unable to begin to discuss what is or is not exciting, dull or peculiar about it.' With this book in your hand, buildings will break down beguilingly into their component parts, ready for inspection and discussion. There will be no more references to 'that curly bit on top of the thing with the square protrusions'. Fluent in the world of volutes, hood moulds, lobed architraves and bucrania, you will be able to leave a cathedral or country house with as much to talk about as a film or play.
Complete with over 400 exquisite watercolour illustrations and hand-drawn annotations, this is a joyous celebration of British buildings and will allow you to observe and describe the world around you afresh."
“Joseph Braddock believes in “a world of spirit which is just as real as this one”. Although, to his regret, he has never seen a ghost, it is his humility before the relation of supra-normal happenings which gives a particular quality—neither sceptical nor yet credulous—to this book about Haunted Houses. Many of Mr. Braddock’s tales of hauntings are quite unfamiliar. These are stories of Haunted Castles and Haunted Pubs; of North-Country and West-Country ghosts; of Theatre Ghosts, Evil Hauntings, Poltergeists and Photographs of Ghost. Mr Braddock relates them all, with no little degree of literary skill, but in the end he is content to say: “I should like to ask the reader to try and keep an open mind as to the truth, or otherwise, of each tale of haunting; while, if possible, accepting the principle of the supremacy of the World of Spirit over the world of matter…”
The jacket design and all the illustrations and decorations in the book have been made by Felix Kelley. Mr Kelley, as these illustrations show, is an artist with a high degree of imaginative sympathy for the supernatural. Skilful and decorative in themselves his pictures have an even more important quality as hauntingly beautiful evocations of the spirit of Joseph Braddock’s text.”
"This volme provides an account of the main themes of Victorian architecture as well as detailed studies of the works of the most distinguished architects of the time. Among many other contributions are Nikolaus Pevsner on Richard Norman Shaw, Robert Furneaux Jordan on Sir Joseph Paxton and Charles Handley-Read on William Burges."
"A skyscraper one mile high, a dome covering most of downtown Manhattan, a triumphal arch in the form of an elephant: some of the most exciting buildings in the history of architecture are the ones that never got built.
These are the projects in which architects took materials to the limits, explored challenging new ideas, defied conventions, and pointed the way towards the future. Some of them are architectural masterpieces, some simply delightful flights of fancy. It was not usually poor design that stymied them – politics, inadequate funding, or a client who chose a ‘safe’ option rather than a daring vision were all things that could stop a project leaving the drawing board.
These unbuilt buildings include the grand projects that acted as architectural calling cards, experimental designs that stretch technology, visions for the future of the city, and articles of architectural faith. Structures like Buckminster Fuller’s dome over New York or Frank Lloyd Wright’s mile-high tower can seem impossibly daring. But they also point to buildings that came decades later, to the Eden Project and the Shard.
Some of those unbuilt wonders are buildings of great beauty and individual form like Etienne-Louis Boullée’s enormous spherical monument to Isaac Newton; some, such as the city plans of Le Corbusier, seem to want to teach us how to live; some, like El Lissitsky’s ‘horizontal skyscrapers’ and Gaudí’s curvaceous New York hotel, turn architectural convention upside-down; some, such as Archigram’s Walking City and Plug-in City, are bizarre and inspiring by turns. All are captured in this magnificently illustrated book."
"Built to last, built to impress, built with style and grandeur - it is all the more remarkable when the most ostentatious of buildings fall into disrepair and become ruins. From imperial residences and aristocratic estates to hotels and urban mansions, Abandoned Palaces tells the stories behind dilapidated structures from all around the world.
From ancient Roman villas to the French colonial hill station in Cambodia that was one of the final refuges of the Khmer Rouge, the book charts the fascinating decline of what were once the homes and holiday resorts of the most wealthy. Ranging from crumbling hotels in the Catskill Mountains or in Mozambique to grand mansions in Taiwan, and from an unfinished Elizabethan summerhouse to a modern megalomaniac's estate too expensive ever to be completed, the reasons for the abandonment of these buildings include politics, bankruptcy, personal tragedies, natural and man-made disasters, as well as changing tastes and fashions. With 150 outstanding colour photographs exploring more than 100 hauntingly beautiful locations, Abandoned Palaces is a brilliant and moving pictorial examination of worlds we have left behind."
I hope you have found something interesting amongst this odd collection of eerie history but if not, you may find a book more to your taste in the Compendiums Library.