Brick: A World History

Brick: A World History

by James W. P. Campbell
     
 

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This totally original architecture book -- the first comprehensive work on brick, the essential building material -- ranges over every culture throughout history. It follows the story of brick from 5,000 B.C. to the twenty-first century, from the vast baths and basilicas of ancient Rome, through the wonders of Gothic brick in Germany, Buddhist shrines in Burma and

Overview

This totally original architecture book -- the first comprehensive work on brick, the essential building material -- ranges over every culture throughout history. It follows the story of brick from 5,000 B.C. to the twenty-first century, from the vast baths and basilicas of ancient Rome, through the wonders of Gothic brick in Germany, Buddhist shrines in Burma and Mughal mosques in Iran, to the modern revivial of brick in the hands of architects like Gaudi. Marvelously illustrated with specially taken photographs, the book is at once an historical account of how bricks have been employed by architects of every period, a technical survey of brickmaking and bricklaying and an essay in architectural and cultural history. More than one hundred themes are covered, from bricks in ancient Egypt to their distinctive use by Louis Kahn, Alvar Aalto and Renzo Piano. Works of engineering -- railway viaducts, tunnels and bridges -- are given prominence alongside the great cathedrals and country houses, castles and temples, testifying to the versatility and importance of brick and brickwork. An illustrated glossary explains all technical terms and the various construction and bonding methods in use. The book will prove indispensable to anyone professionally involved in, studying or simply interested in architecture, design and materials.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Proceeding chronologically from the first Neolithic "bun bricks" to relatively high-tech contemporary forms, Cambridge University art historian Campbell and documentary photographer Pryce reveal the building blocks of the Coliseum, the Taj Mahal, the Florence Cathedral and the Chrysler Building, as well as more humble abodes. Pryce's photos are stunning, making up the bulk of the 600 illustrations here (570 in color) and miraculously capturing the outlines of each brick, even in such massive structures as the Great Mosque in Isfahan, Iran, or the beautiful Buddhist temples of Pagan in Myanmar. He also documents brickmaking in the Bulmer Brickworks in Suffolk, England, as a worker moulds, "strikes," "drops" and dusts large, ochre, rectangular bricks. The photos, as well as excellent period technical illustrations, are laid out in compelling two-page spreads, each with subheading (e.g., "Petrus Cuypers and the Gothic Revival in Holland") in this 9.75" 12.5" book, and are matched by Campbell's clear and intense historiography. In Sumerian times, he notes, offerings of food and drink were presented to "the brick god," who was "represented in the ritual by the first brick." More recently, mortar for the foundations of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was mixed with "a broth of barley and bark of elm" and sacred relics, accompanied by prayers, placed between every 12 bricks. A lack of detail on Chinese use of brick, particularly early brickwork, is a drawback, but the Islamic world is well-covered, and Campbell's refreshing focus on the brickmakers (often family-run businesses) and bricklayers themselves shows how techniques were kept secret to prevent early forms of industrial espionage, now posing a challenge to contemporary scholars trying to figure out how bricks were engineered even as late as the Victorian era. (Dec.) FYI: For the New York-centric, there is the recently-published, 8.5" 11" Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House 1783-1929, by Charles Lockwood (Manhattan Moves Uptown), including 300 b&w and color illustrations, among them many photos by Madeleine Isom (Rizzoli, $75 384p ISBN 0-847-82522-1). Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This tome should generate new respect for the lowly unit of fired clay. As we are reminded by Campbell (architecture, Cambridge Univ.), many famous buildings are constructed of brick (e.g., the Taj Mahal, the Hampton Court Palace, the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence), though the brick may be hidden. In a brilliant collaboration that claims to be "the first complete guide to the development of brick across the globe," the author and photographer document many of these buildings while tracing the development of brickwork and brickmaking. Brief, illustrated articles cover selected times and places, from medieval Russia to Colonial America, with Campbell concluding that brick is the most appropriate and affordable building technology for the world. The text is clear, concise, and authoritative despite a few typographical errors and benefits greatly from the addition of an illustrated glossary. The hundreds of color photographs are stunning in their clarity and composition, showing the structural versatility and decorative capabilities of brick. Highly recommended for public and specialized collections.-David R. Conn, Surrey P.L., B.C. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500341957
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
11/24/2003
Edition description:
Reprinted
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
778,978
Product dimensions:
9.90(w) x 12.50(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

James W. P. Campbell is Fellow in Architecture and History of Art, Queens’ College, Cambridge, and Director of Conservation with Finch Forman Architects, London.

Will Pryce is an award-winning photographer who originally trained as an architect at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Art, and photojournalism at the London College of Printing. His books include Big Shed, World Architecture: The Masterworks, and, with James W. P. Campbell, the widely acclaimed Brick: A World History.

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