David Adjaye Works 2007 – 2015

Adjaye was known in London quite early on in his career – his anthracite, brutalist-tinged creations that highlighted their materiality and geometry had a distinct voice. But it took him longer to find his rightful place in the canon of contemporary architecture. His work has been documented in Thames & Hudson books “Works: 1995 – 2007” and “Works: 2007 – 2015.” The latter one is being released today, though we absolutely recommend getting the pair.

The new 300-page book with over 500 illustrations highlights about 50 of Adjaye’s projects – a prodigious output. Whereas the first volume covers mostly Adjaye’s London work and is more intimate in scope – naturally so, since early projects tend to be on a smaller scale – the second one is a sweeping overview of Adjaye’s creations, many of them done in the United States. The most famous of these to date is the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. The museum opened in 2016 and will undoubtedly be a worthy beginning of the next volume. For now though there is plenty to dissect in the current tome. The projects contained therein are a mix of commercial and public, small and large, quotidian and lofty.

Studio Visit: Philip Beesley

When you talk to the Canadian architect Philipp Beesley, a long time collaborator of the designer Iris van Herpen, you must rewire yourself. Beesley talks in abstractions – instead of walls and floors and ceilings, you get planes, and motion, and thermodynamics. This isn’t because he’s trying to obfuscate anything, it’s just the way his mind works. In a way it’s a requirement for Beesley, because he has moved on past the traditional architecture of making buildings, which he has done exceedingly well in his career. Instead he creates spaces and environments that operate on a level above the basic requirements of architecture, such as protection from the elements. It’s not that it’s not his concern, but these problems have been thoroughly solved. Instead, he’s more concerned how space interacts with human beings on a philosophical level – freedom, community, interaction. Abstraction is the language that’s required.

Wonderwall: Case Studies

Masamichi Katayama, the founder and principal of the Japanese interior design and architecture firm Wonderwall, turned 50 earlier this year. To celebrate his achievements, amongst which are countless retail interiors in Japan and beyond, the german publisher Gestalten released a first comprehensive monograph on Katamaya’s work, Wonderwall: Case Studies ($69).


This Brutal World

I did not know that one of the most impressive modern buildings is in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, until I saw its photo in This Brutal World (Phaidon, $49.95). The jaw-dropping structure is a testament to the human aspirations and follies. If architecture, like art, should reflect our world, the still-unfinished (inside) Ryugyong Hotel is it.