Book Review – Why we Build by Rowan Moore

When I started the Modern London group one of the things which interested me was “Do the buildings work?”

Rowan Moore in this interesting book confirms that a lot of buildings don’t work.  I found his insight into the iconic modern homes interesting.  It had not occurred to me that the houses, and in particular their bedrooms, could reflect the state of the marriages and relationships of the architects.  He also confirms that Rodgers is very touchy about the Lloyd’s building with his lawyers insisting that the English edition of a book on architecture doesn’t contain the criticism of that building contained in the American edition.

The book is slightly too wordy and the illustrations (in the paperback edition) are lousy, but I found lots to interest me.  I was disappointed that he didn’t discuss the modern equivalent of the follies which grace some English stately homes.   In Minneapolis I realised that a Frank Geary art gallery was deceptive.  The interestingly shaped walls were bolted on metal panels, and the interesting looking roof did not reflect the internal structure of the building but consisted of brick built shapes.  I am sure Mr.Moore must know of many other similar buildings.

ISBN 978-0-330-53582-3    Picador 2012

Available from Walthamstow library.