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Essays On Thermodynamics, Architecture and Beauty by Iñaki Ábalos and Renata Sentkiewicz | Actar | 2015 | Amazon
Architecture, beauty, thermodynamics. One of these terms appears to be out of place, not typically lumped in with the other two. Of course I’m referring to thermodynamics, which would seem to relate to architecture through sustainability; it deals with heat transfer after all and is therefore an important part of designing enclosures. But for Ábalos + Sentkiewicz it is really one of four terms that are used to organize this book into “issues that a projective definition of architecture must necessarily address:” Somatisms, Verticalism, Thermodynamic Materialism, and the Assemblage of Monsters. While I was intrigued by the inclusion of thermodynamics in the title, the term “projective” turned me off. I’ve tried to understand the use of the term relative to architectural practice (Constructing a New Agenda and Oxymoron and Pleonasm are loaded with it), but to me it is too much of a meta-term than something grasped even with some effort. My lack of understanding aside, this book is basically a monograph on Ábalos + Sentkiewicz that is accompanied by a number of essays. Do people have to understand the essays to appreciate the work? Obviously not. But as architects and academics, the essays have been tools for them to explore ideas and attitudes about architecture, and therefore they have influenced the projects. The essays are then a valuable part of the book and should be rewarding for those so inclined to read them.

The City That Never Was: Reconsidering the Speculative Nature of Contemporary Urbanization by Christopher Marcinkoski | Princeton Architectural Press | 2016 | Amazon
I am a sucker for books with aerial photography – I have enough of them that aerials is a tag on my “Unpacking My Library” blog. One architect/author who has exploited the use of aerials is James Corner. So it comes as no surprise that Christopher Marcinkoski used to work at James Corner Field Operations. Now the head of PORT Urbanism and a professor at PennDesign, Marcinkoski sets his aim on the housing bubble of 2008, looking at areas of the Madrid metropolitan region from above through five case studies. Much more than other places, the boom and bust in the region was pronounced, the latter visible in the marks of infrastructure, unfinished cultural venues and other failed projects. More than eye candy from above, The City That Never Was is a thoroughly researched and well illustrated (with charts, not just photos) book on the adverse effects of large-scale speculative urbanization.

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