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The New Modern House: Redefining Functionalism by Ellie Stathaki and Jonathan Bell

Dissecting the perpetual appeal of the one-off house

This book clearly has two ambitions. On the one hand, it is The New Modern House, a source of inspiration for domestic architecture - not a coffee-table book in the pejorative sense, but certainly beautifully paced and presented. On the other, it is Redefining Functionalism, a footnoted text that seeks to define a larger architectural agenda.

At the first, the book excels. For the architect in search of ideas to the client browsing for ‘Something like that, please’, the 50 case studies are an interesting collection of recent worldwide examples, separated contextually into rural, suburban and urban conditions. Authored and designed by a four-strong team of staff from Wallpaper* magazine, the book has all the judgement and poise you would expect from such a collaboration.

The introductory essay is also strong in its own right, charting a confident course through the writings of Le Corbusier, Reyner Banham,Tom Wolfe and others, to create a cultural/historical route to its contemporary exposition.

The only possible weakness is the discrepancy between the two strands. For the scholarly reader there aren’t enough project plans or details to make an assessment of the thesis beyond an aesthetic appearance - which, for a tome on how architecture functions, is a not inconsiderable omission.

+ Stylistically beautiful
- Lacking in substance

The New Modern House: Redefining Functionalism

Authors: Ellie Stathaki and Jonathan Bell

Publisher: Laurence King, 2010

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