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From Bauhaus to Our House

de Tom Wolfe

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A review of architectural trends in the twentieth century that attacks the modernist mainstream.

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Very funny and insightful look into how the 'compound' theory came to dominate modern architecture. Wolfe combines spiky, laugh-out-loud humour with biting critique. Highly recommended. ( )
  Lirmac | Jan 6, 2022 |
Ugliness and impracticality in the name of progress are not really progress and there is no justification for ugliness and impracticality.

I see these homes. There is a riverside home I admire, built into a hill on a riverbend with a lovely view. However, this home has a flat roof, which was a popular architectural feature at the time it was built. We are in a northern location with lots of heavy snow. No matter how lovely the home, or how cheap the price, I would never, ever, buy a flat roofed house in this climate. But it is progressive, it is "modern". Hopefully, the owners see the style as worth having a perpetually leaking roof.

I see what these ideas have led to. Contractors build houses without architectural guidance, while still borrowing their ideas. Now I see plenty of houses that; well, one can only presume that a house exists, because of the evidence of a garage. You drive by and see a garage and the hint that the building continues on and that the garage may be part of an overall larger structure and that a home may indeed, exist somewhere behind that garage. I call this particular architectural style "anti-curb appeal".

Regardless of that, other people are free to live in whatever house they can tolerate and I have my own tastes. My home is very old, built while this little rural town was riding the crest of a "spa" boom. It is tall, well built and graciously proportioned. We enjoy plenty of natural light through our tall, plentiful windows. The floor joists are made from trees that were squared off. The snow slides right off the steeply pitched roof. As we live in the north, there are a few hot days in summer, but the old hardwoods in the yard provide shade, the high ceilings ventilate the heat upwards and the cross breezes through the screened windows make air conditioning unnecessary. While there are a few things I would change, like re-converting the previous owner's man cave back into a garage, a more efficient floor plan within the existing structure, and replacing the mid-century stone porch with a reproduction of the original wood porch, I love my house and it is perfect for the way we use it.

I think Wolfe was right about Courbusier being a fascist; I am sure that if he had his way my house would be razed and replaced with a flat roofed, concrete cube with a couple of windows. A home I would hate looking at, and a home I would hate living in; a house I would not want to come home to. After all, I can live with other people's ugly architecture, it only offends my eye. Having no other choice but to live in ugly house; own an ugly house, would offend my very being. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
Wolfe's effort to critique 20th Century architecture is not particularly well thought out, and now times have changed to include buildings he said would never get built. Nevertheless, it is witty and highly readable. ( )
2 vote dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is a very readable account of the history of modern architecture. Its undoubtedly opinionated and contentious, but it wears its prejudices openly and honestly. Perhaps the highest accolade for a book is that it makes you want to read more, to get other viewpoints and know more fully what went on, and this books does that in spades. Highly recommended.
  nandadevi | Apr 14, 2014 |
I'm no fan of books on architectural criticism, but I am attracted by Tom Wolfe's prose. So, on a slow day, I read this. He doesn't like post-modernist Buildings. In a perfect world, I might care more. ( )
1 vote DinadansFriend | Jan 27, 2014 |
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Wolfe, Tomautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Rowohlt, HarryTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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For Michael McDonough who knows where all the acute angles are hidden in the grid
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A review of architectural trends in the twentieth century that attacks the modernist mainstream.

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