Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen Review and Book Notes

A classic architectural theory book, easy to read with some unique insights but with a couple of large flaws.

Introduction

Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen was a standard text in architectural schools and also for me when I began my studies more years ago than I care to remember.

It was on my reading list as a student and it was one of the first books from the course that made an impact on me. So I was interested to come back to this book after many years and reread it.

Below you will find an introduction, summary and review with a set of notes by chapter for those that want to get into the weeds with detail!

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E.1027: What Happens in E.1027 Stays in E.1027

Introduction

E.1027 is small modernist house on the French Riviera that after many years of neglect has been restored and opened to the public. Two things make this building special, first it is a wonderful and early example of a modernist house and secondly its story illustrates the tension between integrity and reputation and what this can lead to.

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The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century by Mark Lamster

The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century by Mark Lamster

Overview

A detailed biography of Philip Johnson in chronological order. The American Architect who became kingmaker during the rise of the modernist movement in the U.S.A. after WWII. A floored genius, a copyist, a playboy, politician and propagandist. This book sets the standard so far in my reading for an Architectural biography both in personal and professional detail.

I do not believe in principles, in case you haven’t noticed.

—Philip Johnson, 1982

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The Van Nelle Factory from the Front

The Van Nelle Factory: A Modernist Architectural Classic

  • The Van Nelle Factory
  • Constructed 1925-1931
  • Architects: Leendert van der Vlugt of Brinkman & Van der Vlugt
  • Address: Van Nelleweg 1, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Introduction

At 220m long, 8 stories high and 60,000m² in size the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam rises up against the flat landscape surrounding it even if it doesn’t tower above the other buildings like it once did when it was finished in 1931.

Designed and built in the 1920’s on the banks of a canal in an industrial zone on the then outskirts of Rotterdam it was a pioneer of a new form of Construction that the Dutch called literally New Building or ‘Nieuwe Bouwen’. This was a modern factory building made just at the birth of Modernism and incorporating the latest technology plus techniques developed on site by the constructors it became one of the buildings that would go on to define the style of modernism itself. A modernist classic from the day it opened.

Now a UNESCO heritage site it still maybe is not as well known as it should be being both a great influence in early modernism and an beautiful piece of frozen social history that is often overlooked.

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Unité d’Habitation: The Brutalist Boat

Unité d’habitation

Key Information

  • Name: Unité d’habitation
  • Location: Marseille, France
  • Architect: Le Corbusier
  • Year: 1947-52

Introduction Le Corbusier’s first Unité d’Habitation 

The Marseille Unitéd’habitation which literally means unit of habitation is the first of the series of experimental and futuristic housing blocks developed by the Architect Le Corbusier after WWII. It became one of the most influential Modernist buildings of all time with countless iterations tried by other Architects all over the world and developed in different directions and with different levels of success.

Corbusier himself built four more Unité d’Habitations in Europe. The Rough concrete he used ‘béton brut’ became the signature of the style known as Brutalism. Simply put if you are are interested in Modern Architecture or the History of Architecture this is one of the buildings you should know.

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