In Architecture Unbound, noted architecture critic Joseph Giovannini takes us to architecture’s wilder shores as he traces a century of the avant-garde to transgressive and progressive art movements that roiled Europe before and after World War I, and to the social unrest and cultural disruption of the 1960s. Manifestos produced during this pivotal and fertile period opened the way to tentative forays into an inventive, anti-authoritarian architecture in the next decade. Built projects broke onto the front pages and into public awareness in the 1980s, and took digital form in the 1990s, with large-scale international projects landing on the far side of the millennium.
As Giovannini writes in the Prologue, “With strategies of explosion, collision, and fragmentation, architects were introducing forces that dislocated architecture’s system of thought and construction predicated on gravity. Architects produced fresh astonishments, some fantastical. The buildings worked, and they worked well, but perhaps their highest and best function was to fascinate.”
Architecture Unbound tracks complex historical developments and conceptual influences across the century, presenting an authoritative and illuminating history of the twentieth-century avant-garde and its evolution into digital form-making in the twenty-first century. He profiles influential practitioners and their most notable projects including Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao and Walt Disney Concert Hall, Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House, Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, Rem Koolhaas’s CCTV Tower, and Herzog and de Meuron’s Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. He includes scores of other projects and architects who contributed to the groundswell of work that established a broadly based movement that has continued in an ongoing digital phase.
The avant-garde focus of Giovannini’s text, which includes Claude Parent and Paul Virilio’s theories of the oblique, is translated into the book’s trapezoidal format and inventive typographical layout, designed by celebrated graphic designer Abbott Miller of Pentagram. Giovannini analyzes this innovative and daring epoch of design with the evocative prose and finely drawn insights of a book that will earn its place on bookshelves as an essential addition to the contemporary architecture canon.
Architecture Unbound: A Century of the Disruptive Avant-Garde. Cover Image
Architecture Principe (Claude Parent and Paul Virilio), Église Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay, Nevers, France. 1963-1966. Photograph © Maxime Paris, 2020
Asymptote Architecture: Hani Rashid + Lise Anne Couture, Steel Cloud, unbuilt proposal for Los Angeles, California, 1988. Photograph: Eduard Hueber
Bernard Tschumi Architects, Parc de la Villette, Paris, France, 1982-98. Photograph J.M. Monthiers, courtesy Bernard Tschumi Architects
Co-Op Himmelb(l)au, Studio Baumann, Vienna, Austria, 1984-1985. Photograph © Gerald Zugman/Vienna
Co-Op Himmelb(l)au, Rooftop Remodeling Falke Strasse, Vienna, Austria, 1983-1988. Photograph © Gerald Zugmann/Vienna
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Museum of Image and Sound, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, commission 2009, expected completion 2022. Image courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Eisenman Architects, Wexner Center for the Visual Arts and Fine Arts Library, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 1983-1989. © Eisenman Architects
Eric Owen Moss, Lawson-Westen House, Los Angeles, California, 1993. Photograph © Tom Bonner 2017
Frank Gehry, Gehry Partners, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, 1989. Photograph courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP
Greg Lynn and Fabian Marcaccio, Predator, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, 2001. Photograph © Greg Lynn FORM
Günther Domenig, FunderMax in Sankt Veit an der Glan, Austria, 1987. Photograph © Gerald Zugmann/Vienna
Günther Domenig, Steinhaus, Steindorf, Austria, 1982-2008. Photograph © Gerald Zugmann/Vienna
Manfred Wolff-Plottegg, Bathroom "for K. Schwitters," Graz, Austria, 1983. Photograph © Manfred Wolff-Plottegg
Marcos Novak, Invisible Architectures: La Biennale Di Venezia 2000, 4Dzwx, Venice, Italy, 2000. An Installation for the Greek Pavilion. Image © Marcos Novak
Thom Mayne/Morphosis Architects, Giant Interactive Group Headquaters, Shanghai, China, 2010. Photograph © Roland Halbe
Thom Mayne/Morphosis Architects, PHAS Tower/La Phare (The Lighthouse), La Défense, Paris, France, 2007. Image © Michael Powers, courtesy Morphosis Architects
Peter Anders/Kayvala, Picture of A Spiral, 1985. Image © Peter Anders/Kayvala
Preston Scott Cohen, Lightfall, Herta and Paul Amir Building, Museum of Modern Art, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2010. Photograph by Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.
SHoP Architects, Dunescape, Young Architects Program, Installation at P.S.1, New York, NY, 2000. © SHoP Architects
Ateliers Jean Nouvel. 53 W 53, 2007- 2019. Photograph by Joseph Giovannini
Thomas Leeser, Twin House, unbuilt, 1989. Photograph © Thomas Leeser
Tom Wiscombe Architecture, The Main Museum of Los Angeles Art, Los Angeles, California, 2014-2017. Image © Tom Wiscombe Architecture
Weiss/Manfredi. The Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, Washington, 2007. Photograph by Benjamin Benschneider, courtesy of Weiss/Manfredi
Zaha Hadid, Zollhof Media Park, Düsseldorf, Germany. 1989–93. © Zaha Hadid Foundation
Zaha Hadid Architects, Two Story Hill Side House, unbuilt, La Jolla, California, 2010. Rendering. Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects, Paris 2e: Islamic Art Extension to Louvre, Paris, France, 2005. Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
About The Author: Joseph Giovannini is a practicing architect who has written on architecture and design for four decades for such publications as the New York Times, Architectural Record, Art in America, and Art Forum, and he has served as the architecture critic for New York Magazine, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He has also taught widely in graduate architecture programs.