Why Architecture Matters

by | 23. Aug 2012


Goldberger_8.jpgPhoto courtesy Yale University Press

Architecture is the making of place and the making of memory.
/Paul Goldberger

Neither a history nor a guide, Why Architecture Matters is an explanation of how architecture affects us and our sense of the world beyond merely providing shelter. It is also a deft handbook on how to look at buildings – how to examine them on their own, view them in the context of their physical environments, and see them within their chronologies.

Goldberger shows how the various goals of architecture – to be beautiful, challenging, ethical, comforting, communal, spiritual – should not exclude one another. A red barn in a green meadow, he reminds us, may not be great architecture, but it is a pleasing sight and it adeptly fulfills the purpose for which it was constructed. Le Corbusier’s iconic Villa Savoye in France may represent an epitome of modern architectural design, but it was considered “uninhabitable” by the person for whom it was built.

Why Architecture Matters also offers an element of travelogue. Through vivid and often quite moving descriptions of buildings the reader is transported to many of the world’s most impressive architectural achievements.

The cumulative effect of this, apart from motivating the reader to hop a plane to London, Barcelona, Paris or New York, is to offer a remarkable perspective from which the reader sees the particularity and the totality of the built world with new eyes.

Witty and compassionate, Why Architecture Matters is a wonderful read.