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Home and Building, Volume 18 Number 1 (June 1955)

Book Review: A Treasury of Contemporary Houses

page 33

Book Review: A Treasury of Contemporary Houses

Selected by the Editors of Architectural Record.

The following four pages show houses that have been selected from the book, not because they are the most striking ones, but because they are simple, well designed, and would look quite at home in New Zealand.

This book will be a joy and delight to those people who are contemplating building but perhaps a little depressing to anyone who has built a rather unimaginative house recently and is here shown how much better he could have spent his money.

As the editors say, these houses have been selected from those they have published during the last year or two because they are all outstanding designs full of delight and imagination. To those of us who have a large stack of 'Architectural Records' it is very useful to have this collection of houses in one volume.

When looking at a collection of houses made by the 'Architectural Forum', April, 1937, it is interesting to wonder if many of these houses will look out of date in two decades as a number of those do to us now. |n these contemporary houses it is the diversity of material that gives such freedom of design to the architect and the imaginative use of this material that is so refreshing. The current fashion of bringing the outdoors in — not in the form of mud on one's boots of course— is very evident in these houses. However, it is this freedom of design that gives to the layman a feeling of confusion, in that there is no easily recognizable contemporary style and it is rather expensive to interpret what may turn out to be a mere fashion in permanent material.

Looking through this book we feel that these American houses are designed very much more suitably for their sites than many New Zealand houses and that the architect has not merely been content to design a house for his client but has either called in a landscape gardener or planned the whole layout of garden and outbuildings himself to give an integrated whole.

The format and photography of the book are of course excellent and as to the individual houses as the editors say in their introduction, 'All are modern. All were considered good enough to publish in 'Architectural Record.' All are very recent selections. But all do not take their academic theory in the same doses. What's more to the point, all have ideas in them, and nowadays there is no dogma, intellectual or otherwise, against using whatever ideas appeal to you.'