The latest instalment of our new series of AR Reading Lists: seven carefully chosen pieces from our archive, free for registered users
Architecture writing is not an auxiliary field. It is the lyrical mirror to the physically built. The AR has long been concerned with the nature of criticism itself, the significance of its role and matters of style: the history of architecture writing as varied as the buildings it covers – who is allowed to write being crucial, as well as expectations of register, assumptions of authority, devotions of care and research, relationships to truth.
A traditional idea of writing about architecture follows something of a different line from an idea of an architecture of writing, or writing architecture itself. The form of the passage, the pattern of words on the page, is both spatial and fully lived, and should be treated as such. What further riches might be gained from its exploration?
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- Critical mass: why architectural criticism matters, Michael Sorkin, AR June 2014
‘The task of articulating concepts of form, space and sociability in their etiology and contexts via another medium has always been criticism − and architecture’s − challenge’
- The AR’s editorial team of 1947 on the culture of creative criticism, JM Richards, Nikolaus Pevsner, Osbert Lancaster, H de C Hastings, AR January 1947
‘Unroped to any guide, the review may be said to be hacking its own way up the ice-slopes of modern experience, a situation in which the most expert mountaineer may make a slip’
- Outrage: Subtopia, Ian Nairn, AR June 1955
‘Subtopia is the annihilation of the difference by attempting to make one type of scenery standard for town, suburb, countryside and wild’
- Volumes of words: the architecture of the page, Hannah Gregory, AR December 2018/January 2019
‘The reader moves through the text, its signs and signifiers, and then may be moved by the text, through imagined places and vicarious emotions’
- The lighthouse, Lili Zarzycki, AR April 2019
‘Civilise this corner of the ocean. Burn a hundred candles at its eye, a winking face at the gate of the land. The light edges empire into sea’
- Writing the City into Being: Essays on Johannesburg 1998-2008 by Lindsay Bremner, Catherine du Toit, AR March 2011
‘Just as anonymous readers assert the uniqueness of a work, so anonymous citizens, through their inattentive, distracted, careless daily lives assert the “citiness” of a city’
- Dry flowers from the cerrado, Milton Hatoum, AR October 2019
‘Nothing was very clean in 1968’s Brasília, an embryonic city, a small capital. And a watched-over capital’
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