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Architects Sketchbook of Underground Buildings: Drawings and Photographs

Wells, Malcolm

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ISBN 10: 096218781X / ISBN 13: 9780962187810
Published by Raven Rocks Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, U.S.A., 1990
Condition: As New Soft cover
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About this Item

Oversized 200pp Drawings and color photographs Plans Spiral binding, so pages will lie flat when opened. Bookseller Inventory # 65800

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Architects Sketchbook of Underground ...

Publisher: Raven Rocks Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1990

Binding: Glossy Soft Cover

Book Condition:As New

Edition: Presumed First Edition

About this title


Architect Malcolm Wells has been operating on (some might say obsessing on) a simple and singular premise for over 30 years: that houses should be built below the land rather than on top of it. Basically, Wells simply hates the way conventional buildings rise from the ground to insult the sky with their boxy nakedness. As he states early on, "Rather than stand alone in contrast to nature, underground architecture lies in her arms." So what do the houses look like? Actually, rather nice, from this reviewer's standpoint. (This is a "sketchbook," remember, and is illustrated with scores and scores of drawings and photographs.) While it's hard to do justice to Wells without referring to his lush and amusing drawings, let's pretend. Imagine your basic, 'fifties, flat-roofed "modem house." Now sink it into the ground so that the window sills are at toe level. Now cover the roof with a thick layer of contoured earth, and plant a forest of shrubs and trees. Contour the grade some more for driveways and entries, and what meets the eye of a visitor are gracious, glazed horizontals that look like the most charming parts of Chichen Itza. What this book is not is a handbook for do-it-yourselfers considering the cost/benefits of going the subsurface route to the home of their dreams. It is is a retrospective look at 26 years of architectural work, most of which, well, never got off the ground. The musings on these failed dreams are what give this book most of its charm and all of its purpose. The writing is nontechnical, lively, surprisingly witty, richly humane, and (again, surprisingly for an architect) self-effacing. My final thought at the end of this book was that it was worth reading more for what it teaches about building a life worth living than a house worth living in. -- From Independent Publisher

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