Monument Builders: Modern Architecture and Death

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9780471983682: Monument Builders: Modern Architecture and Death
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A thoughtful exploration of modern architectural monuments and memorials

Structures built in response to death pose unique architectural challenges-challenges that transcend the physical to encompass symbolism, beliefs, and culture. Monument Builders highlights this rarely discussed yet fascinating building type, exploring the links between different perceptions of death and their expression in architecture over the course of the twentieth century. Sensitive but never somber, it features the work of an impressive international roster of architects as it moves from neo-classisist and modernist treatments of death to holocaust memorials and other difficult projects.

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In common usage the term "monument" usually refers to symbolic sculptural constructions that honor great people, military victories, or victims of disasters or genocide. In this book, however, it typically denotes actual buildings that serve practical purposes connected with death and burial. This may not sound like a particularly promising subject, but don't be misled: Monument Builders is a meaty and significant work that explores subtle issues of spirit and human mortality--and architects' attempts to capture and express it.

An extensive essay--"Modernism, Architecture, and Death"--occupies a third of the book and traces the development of funerary architecture and sculptural memorials. It is followed by an eclectic portfolio of 29 designers' funerary projects, most of them recent. Familiar names and major talents such as Gunnar Asplund, Herman Hertzberger, Arata Isozaki, Maya Lin, Fumihiko Maki, Aldo Rossi, Moshe Safdie, Carlo Scarpa, and Peter Eisenman populate this section, along with less-well-known but often equally interesting designers. The constructions themselves run the gamut from a minimalist stone marker--Wim Cuyvers's grave for his father--to architecturally ambitious building complexes such as Rossi's near-legendary Modena cemetery ensemble. Nearly all of the included works achieve a quiet, contemplative serenity.

Edwin Heathcote, an architect and editorial staffer at Church Building magazine, clearly knows his subject intimately, and has produced an enlightening and impressively authoritative book. Physically, it is equally impressive, featuring a large format, quietly elegant layout, and copious, well-reproduced illustrations--mainly in color. --John Pastier

From the Inside Flap:

Monument Builders Modern Architecture and Death When we come across a mound in the woods, six feet long and three feet wide raised to a pyramidal form by a spade we become serious and something in us says: someone was buried here. That is architecture. Adolf Loos, Architecture, 1910 Monuments, memorials and the architecture of death recall the most profound archetypes of building from our collective unconscious: from the brutal power of the burial mound to the terrible loneliness of the single memorial in a crowd of gravestones or in the repetitive grid of a columbarium, these are structures which have the power to touch us and provoke the existential angst which is the engine of the human mind. But death is a taboo subject in a society where people are pathologically fearful of reminders of their own mortality, who see death not as a defining moment in the human condition but as something to be sanitised and pushed to the edges of consciousness and subsequently, the fringes of the town and city. Despite the great quantity of scholarship and literature which has been devoted to the great memorials from Antiquity to the Renaissance, from the pyramids to the Roman mausolea and Gothic memorials, scant attention has been paid to modern works - an illustration of the current fear of embracing the subject of death. Yet the architects of some of the greatest and most iconic works of recent years (including Aldo Rossi, Carlo Scarpa, Enric Miralles and others) have concerned themselves with this eternal theme. This book attempts to examine the role of architecture in addressing death by featuring a wide range of recent funerary buildings and monuments and defining their place in creating a modern architecture of death. Other titles in the series include: Museum Builders Theatre Builders Library Builders Church Builders Future titles include: Airport Builders Office Builders University Builders Bank Builders

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