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256 Books museum interest (note the venue of the Open Circuits Conference) and occasional exposure on broadcast television channels. The 1959-1974 Video Chronology at the end of the book makes no mention of any U.K. activity, and the only U.K. contribution to Open Circuits is a survey paper by Edward Lucie-Smith. Since community televisiqn projects account for a largepart of U.K. video and, by their type, are not likely to reach the mass media beyond their own local audiences, they have not been noted by the Conference. However, that was in 1974.The book, published three years later, must therefore be treated as history, albeit recent, that nevertheless makes stimulating reading. Pincus-Witten has the last word, ‘nothing in modern culture dates more rapidly than technology’. The Shapes of Structure. Heather Martienssen. Oxford University Press, London and New York, 1976. 166 pp.. illus. E3.95. Reviewed by Robert F. Erickson * One of the most refreshing features of this book is the author’s disinclination to cast judgments on the architectural works of any era. Martienssen, who isemeritus professor of the History of Art, the University of Witwatersrand, Rep. of South Africa. has attempted to draw together an analysis, not only of the range of shapes and designs in building, but of the characteristics of the wor‘k of architects. The result is an excellent and dispassionate surveyin the history of architecture, and it shows veryclearly the extraordinary ingenuity of human beings in designing structures for habitation, for worship and, in the case of bridges, simplyfor getting from place to place. Part I, The Art of Building, is a discussion of such topics as architects as artists and also as engineers. Martienssen reminds the reader that the word ‘art’in present-day thinking needs to be approached with caution and that a new criterion for architecture may be possible. The difficulty is that the overwhelming emphasis on utilitarianism in present architecture, with its accompanying theme of functionalism, intensified the problem of whether or not architects were artists and, if so, was all architecture, good and bad, art? Her answer, by no means presented as final, is that architecture should not be appraised by the same standards of aesthetics used for painting, for example, and any new criteria must be addressed to questions of ‘adequate accommodation’ and ‘adequate constructive means’. These criteria, as she demonstrates, relate very directly to the three requirements for architecture of Vitruvius-durability, convenience and beauty. *c/o School of Social Sciences, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. II 62025, U.S.A. In cataloging the shapes of structures, Martienssen lists 22 types;these includethe crystal (Greek Doric temples);the tunnel (barrel-vaulted medieval churches); the skeleton (Dulles Airport); the honeycomb (the housing block). There are also bridges and barricades, and it is in the former group that design has passed almost entirely from architects to engineers; she believes that this development derives from the introduction of materials such as steel, iron and concrete, and is therefore fairly recent. One of the difficultieswith this sectionof the book isthat, although it contains many useful photographs, they are frequently found several pages away from the appropriate text. Part 3 of the book is a review of planning and includes discussions of 18 plans of such varied structures as the 4th Dynasty Pyramid Temple of Chephren, the Theatre of Epidaurus, Santa Sophia and the 1931 Exhibition House in Berlin. The text is accompanied by precise plans and provides a brief historical survey. In conclusion, Martienssen repeats an earlier theme that architecture is something for people’s use and, consequently, cannot be divorced from its human presence. Whether or not architecture is art, the real challenge is that of suitable volumes and structures for human activity. In pursuing this idea, she has written a very good book, one which should be helpful and thought-provoking for students and teachers in art and architecture. Soundsand Signals:How We Communicate. Charles T. Meadow. Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Penn., 1975. 94 pp., illus. Paper, $4.50. Reviewed by Stroud CornOck** This book is aimed at older children and, therefore, its style may irritate an adult. For example, it contains statements in the interrogative...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
p. 256
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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