Keywords: Construction, illustrations, guide
When I approach a new book, the cover is very important to me, I believe that the design and the material give away a lot about the content of a book. So as I saw the rather boring brown leather cover of L’Architecture Moderne I wasn’t too excited. But you know the famous saying: Never judge a book by its cover.
So I started to flip through the pages and read some paragraphs. And while the text was descriptive, captivating, very explanatory and had lots of reference numbers I was confused by the number of illustrations in comparison to the text. Over 360 pages, there were about 5 illustrations, and the rest were simply text. So a bit disappointed, that the cover indeed confirmed the rather dry content I took a look at the second volume and luckily everything cleared up. It consisted mostly of plans and sections as well as views, all references with numbers corresponding to the first volume. The drawings are very precise, clear and not only for architects but also for other professions comprehensible.The drawings are pretty self-explanatory (with the help of the annotations), the text of the first volume is therefore helpful for a deeper and more thorough understanding of the building and the addressed problems and focus points.
So taking a step backwards and analyzing the concept of the book it’s already given away in the title of the book, “L’architecture modern ou l’art de bien batir” or in Englisch “Modern Architecture or the art of building well”. The two volumes together are sort of a manual for the architect of the 18th century but also for people who were interested in building their own home. The book really goes into the practical aspects of architecture but also the ideals for a building in that specific time. It covers scientific topics, material knowledge as well as construction.Something that really caught my attention was the part in the book, where Briseux introduces in detail the “does and don’ts” of architecture. The idea that a manual tells you what to do, what is correct or incorrect, made me reflect on the role of an architect. I think it is very limiting to set those boundaries. I think creativity has no boundaries and no rules. That is why I believe that a book like this nowadays would only be looked at as a guide with examples but not as a manual which has to be followed. Creativity is limitless and every architect should explore the boundaries of possibility, even if the building won’t be realized in the end.