AAJ Press
Architecture & Design, New Books

Book Review: Henry Plummer – The Architecture of Natural Light

Henry Plummer: The Architecture of Natural Light.

The subject of light may seem a reductive way of talking about architecture. However, the light of architecture is the light of spatial experience and of design – and this book deals with both. Light is a subject with a long theological history. This book offers a surprising array of intellectual avenues to pursue, while commenting on some specific examples of contemporary architecture. Light is Plummer’s speciality, and throughout the book there is a good balance of text and imagery, with high quality photos of building interiors the priority. The sections are ‘Evanescence’, where light is defined as an articulation of time, followed by ‘Procession’ and the light of successive spaces; ‘Veils of Glass’ deals with refraction; ‘Atomization’ looks at filtered or mediated light; then ‘Canalization’, ‘Atmospheric Silence’ and ‘Luminscence’, is where the emphasis is on the way architectural design shapes or controls light. The examples are unexpected – from churches and chapels, houses, conference and arts centres, and the photographic approach is evocative without indulging in atmospherics. The featured buildings are all premier architectural constructs, and so at the high end of design. Herein is featured Herzog de Meuron’s fabulous IKMZ Library and data centre at Cottbus in Germany; Heinz Tesar’s Donau City Church in Austria, and Rem Koolhaas/OMA’s Dutch Embassy in Germany. Most are examples on the smaller end of building design, each accompanies by just one paragraph comment, but all part of a section with a longer conceptual explanation. A book to put you in a mood of restful calm.

Paperback – 28.00 x 26.00 cm: 256pp; 465 Illustrations, 408 in colour
February 2012 (first published 2009)
Thames & Hudson: ISBN 9780500290361


About Jonathan Vickery

I research the politics of contemporary culture, the role of culture in the public sphere, and cultural economy discourse in International Development. I also work as an art critic, editor and public speaker.


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