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Between Living Time and Rocky Space

Why write about build­ings? Build­ings are chunks of the mate­r­i­al of the nat­ur­al world, refash­ioned by humans and set down into place to stand as silent as the rocks and trees from which they were made. How can we describe that mute actu­al­i­ty? A building’s only com­plete descrip­tion is itself. Writ­ing often inten­si­fies the cloud that obscures build­ings rather than dis­si­pates it. So why do it? Two gen­er­a­tions ago, archi­tects had a real job to do, rebuild­ing cities shat­tered by war. It turned out to be more dif­fi­cult than it looked. Now the grand­chil­dren of those utopi­ans have a dif­fer­ent role, which is to res­cue a world that is being turned by the media, the mon­ey men and the machines into a repli­ca of itself. In this book Paul Shep­heard takes a side­ways look at this elu­sive task and finds him­self writ­ing an ode to build­ings, which asks: What are they? When do they hap­pen? And how are they used? 

Paul Shep­heard is an archi­tect liv­ing in Lon­don. He is the author of four pre­vi­ous books: What is Archi­tec­ture? An Essay on Land­scapes, Build­ings, and Machines (1994); The Cul­ti­vat­ed Wilder­ness: Or, What is Land­scape? (1997); Arti­fi­cial Love: A Sto­ry of Machines and Archi­tec­ture (2003) and How to Like Every­thing: A Utopia (2013).

This is one of the most extra­or­di­nary books on archi­tec­ture you will ever read. Paul Shep­heard’s writ­ing is hard to cat­e­gorise: it’s not exact­ly fic­tion, or crit­i­cism, or mem­oir, although it involves aspects of all three. This book con­tains a cast of char­ac­ters that include peo­ple, places and archi­tec­ture and his def­i­n­i­tion of build­ings runs to birds’ nests, totem poles and the Large Hadron Col­lid­er. Shep­heard doesn’t attempt to cor­ral these things into an a‑priori the­o­ry – the usu­al mode of archi­tec­tur­al writ­ing – but describes them as he finds them, in all their end­less and dizzy­ing com­plex­i­ty.
— Charles Holland 

Archi­tec­ture is his sub­ject, but Paul Shep­heard finds it every­where – from the bow­els of the Earth to the depths of out­er space.’ 
 — Dou­glas Murphy

Jean-Michel Dentand

21 × 16cm
8¼ × 6¼ in
8 b&w illustrations

£17.95 | $25

ISBN 978-0-9930721-9-2