History lesson: Colin Davies readdresses the architectural canon

History lesson: Colin Davies readdresses the architectural canon

There’s a new authority on the history of architecture: Laurence King Publishing has released A New History of Modern Architecture by Colin Davies, architect and former editor of The Architects’ Journal, a hefty yet accessible tome that readdresses the canon of 20th- and 21st-century architecture. Visual and approachable, with 800 illustrations, the book corrects the fetishisation of European Modernism and reapportions credit elsewhere across the globe with chapters on the American skyscraper and Chinese modern architecture amongst other international styles and forms.

Church of Colònia Güell, Barcelona, Spain designed by Antoni Gaudí

Barcelona, Spain

The crypt of the church of Colònia Güell, Barcelona, Spain designed by Antoni Gaudí, 1898-. Leaning columns and a twisted net of vault ribs create an interior like a gutted animal carcass. A New Modern History of Architecture names Catalan architect Gaudí as Art Nouveau’s chief representative in the Iberian peninsula. Drawing influence from Gothic and the Chistian-Islamic Mudejar architecture of Spain, ’His was the wildest and most fertile architectural imagination of the era’. 

Photography: Alamy Stock Photo / Jordiphotography  

Colònia Güell
Antoni Gaudí
the National Assembly Building of Bangladesh by Louis Kahn

Dhaka, Bangladesh

The president of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, commissioned architect Louis Kahn to build the National Capital complex at Dhaka. At the heart of the plan, the National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, which became the symbolic heart of the independent nation of Bangladesh. The symmetrical, octogonal-shaped building sits overlooking a V-shaped artificial lake, with a reflection evoking 17th-century Mughal architecture.

Photography: Alamy Stock Photo / Bernard O’Kane

National Assembly Building of Bangladesh
Louis Kahn
Philip Johnson's AT&T building in Manhattan

New York City, USA

The AT&T building, an office in Manhattan for the telecommunications giant, marks Philip Johnson’s decisive conversion to postmodernism. With 37 storeys, the building is mostly clad in glass, but the top and bottom of the monolith is ‘carved away in simple geometrical shapes’: ‘Johnson’s postmodernist statement, like those of (Michael) Graves and (Charles) Moore, was made with very simple means, as if all the modernist raging against traditional ornament had been unnecessary.’

Photography: Alamy Stock Photo / Arcaid Images

AT&T Building
Philip Johnson and John Burgee
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