Stength of an Atlas needed, but its worth the weight

by Katie Masters When it comes to hefty tomes, you d be going some to find anything bigger than The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. Weighing in at 14.5lbs, 800 pages chart the changing trends in contemporary building. The Atlas comes in a eye-popping li

When it comes to hefty tomes, you'd be going some to find anything bigger than The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. Weighing in at 14.5lbs, 800 pages chart the changing trends in contemporary building.

The Atlas comes in a eye-popping lime green carry case, but once that's been snapped open the cover is a far more muted cream and the pages inside are beautifully laid out: clean and easy-to-read.

There are more than 1,000 buildings featured, all built or updated since 2000. Each one illustrated with colour photos and architectural drawings.

Text runs alongside giving a synopsis of the building's history and the materials used in its construction.


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Each building is listed according to location, with the book divided up into continents and the geographical co-ordinates for each building listed, which means you can find them online using Google Earth. Indexes are also given to help readers search through the Atlas by type of building (commercial; residential, recreational etc) and by architect.

London (and the rest of the UK) is well-represented. The expected high-profile pieces like Wembley Stadium and 30 St Mary Axe (aka The Gherkin) are there - but there are some lesser-known buildings too. One is North London's Hallfield School, based just west of Paddington Station and updated in 2005 by Caruso St John Architects. The school is built on an urban estate, and is included thanks to its sympathetic updating of a postwar housing project.

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At £100, it's not cheap, but the Phaidon Atlas is a wonderful reference volume for anyone interested in architecture or design. Just make sure you don't strain your back lifting it.

The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century world Architecture is published by Phaidon Press at £100.

Katie Masters

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