Visionary Architecture

Last month Thames & Hudson published Neil Spiller’s latest book, Visionary Architecture: Blueprints of the Imagination. An examination of experimental architecture since 1945, illustrated with unrealized “paper architecture” from Asymptote, Hadid, Koolhass, Libeskind, Morphosis, NOX, Lebbeus Woods and more.

Inspirational in its underlying ideologies and display of shattered restraints, the influential effect of evolving technologies and deconstructivism are prominent. With this realization the illustrated works are inherently chaotic & fragmented and for many, will offer little aesthetic inspiration. This book is better suited for architectural students and professionals, not those that prefer the more refined physically realized works of Hadid or Asymptote. There is another Visionary Architecture book that should provide wider appeal…

That volume is Visionary Architecture: Unbuilt Works of the Imagination by Ernest Burden, published by McGraw-Hill. Plate after plate of visionary architecture dating back to Piranesi, unimpeded by text. Expect a work to be in this book, from Paolo Soleri to Eugene Tsui, and it’s probably there. The final pages even feature film work from The Fifth Element to What Dreams May Come. Predominantly printed in high quality black & white with several interspersed color plates and now out of print, I consider Ernest Burden’s Visionary Architecture one of the greatest art books ever published.


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