The twentieth-century architect Mies van der Rohe once declared that 'Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together'. In Travels in the History of Architecture, renowned architectural writer Robert Harbison looks closely at these bricks, taking us on a journey through the great themes and movements of architecture, from antiquity to the present day.
Taking as a starting place his own experience of the physical fabric of buildings, Harbison interprets the conceptions of the original architects and makers, pointing out carefully crafted detail and inspiring form along the way. Beginning with the great temples and tombs of the Egyptians, and the monuments and shrines of Greek and Roman architecture, and concluding with the museums of the twenty-first century, each chapter of his Travels focuses on a moment in architectural history, including Byzantine, Baroque, Mannerism, Historicism, Functionalism and Deconstructionism.
Harbison's free-ranging approach draws in references from history, literature and art to illuminate his theme: from Pausanias' travel writing to illustrate the monuments of ancient Greece, or a poem praising marble decoration to help us understand how its makers saw the cathedral of Hagia Sophia, to a French rococo painting to probe the meaning of an English landscape garden. Approachable, catholic, idiosyncratic yet authoritative, Harbison's account works equally well as an enlivening introduction to the history of architecture, or as a refreshingly different take on familiar territory for those who are ready to see old monuments in energizing new ways.