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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Concrete Architecture by Catherine Croft (Gibbs Smith Publishers) Concrete is now chic, becoming ubiquitous in shops, restaurants, and even homes. The reasons are many, as concrete is a remarkable material that can be used in a huge range of techniques and situations. Its color and texture vary, it can be very affordable and mass produced, or meticulously crafted and manipulated. New developments and increased understanding of the possibilities of concrete architecture are inspiring contemporary architects and designers across the globe. Concrete Architecture looks at recent architectural projects that use concrete for a huge range of projects, and celebrates the intrinsic qualities of concrete in the places where we live, work, and play. This book is an invitation to re-evaluate concrete as a modern material and generator of construction techniques.

Examples from USA, Spain, UK, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, France, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, and more are included.

Concrete Architecture asks these questions: · What is concrete? · How is concrete used? · When was concrete first used? · Reputations and connotations: How did concrete get such a bad name? · What are the most recent developments in methods and materials? · Why is concrete now so fashionable?

Catherine Croft is currently Director of the Twentieth Century Society and is a regular contributor to a number of architectural journals, including Building Design. She lives in London.

A favorite subject of fashionable style magazines, concrete is becoming ubiquitous in shops, restaurants, and even homes. It is a fabulous material that can be used in a huge range of techniques and situations. Its color, texture, and constituents vary, it maybe cheaply mass produced or meticulously crafted, and new developments and increased understanding of its possibilities are inspiring contemporary architects and designers.

What is concrete? What is its history? How is concrete used? What are the most recent developments in methods and materials? Why has concrete become so fashionable? This book delves into the answers to these questions, and also showcases recent architectural projects that use concrete for a wide variety of building types.

Concrete Architecture celebrates the intrinsic qualities of concrete and how it shapes the places where we live, work, and play, as well as the landscape that surrounds us. The range of projects includes the Pulitzer Foundation fro the Arts in Missouri by Tadao Ando Architects & Associates; Canary Wharf Undergound Station in London by Foster & Partners and Roland Paoletti; the Diamond Ranch High School in California by Morphosis; the Tokiwadai House in Tokyo by Naoko Hirakura Architect and Associates; and more than forty other examples of concrete architecture from around the world.

Catherine Croft creatively examines concrete as a modern material and generator of previously impossible construction techniques, and showcases a material that has come into its own in the twenty-first century.

Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques by Kaki Hunter, Donald Kiffmeyer (Natural Building Series: New Society Publishers) Over 70 percent of Americans cannot afford to own a code-enforced, contractor-built home. This has led to widespread interest in using natural materials-straw, cob, and earth-for building homes and other buildings that are inexpensive, and that rely largely on labor rather than expensive and often environmentally-damaging outsourced materials.

Earthbag Building is the first comprehensive guide to all the tools, tricks, and techniques for building with bags filled with earth-or earthbags. Having been introduced to sandbag construction by the renowned Nader Khalili in 1993, the authors developed this "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" over the last decade. A reliable method for constructing homes, outbuildings, garden walls and much more, this enduring, tree-free architecture can also be used to create arched and domed structures of great beauty-in any region, and at home, in developing countries, or in emergency relief work.

This profusely illustrated guide first discusses the many merits of earthbag construction, and then leads the reader through the key elements of an earthbag building:

  • Special design considerations

  • Foundations, walls and floors

  • Electrical, plumbing and shelving

  • Lintels, windows and door installations

  • Roofs, arches and domes

  • Exterior and interior plasters

With dedicated sections on costs, making your own specialized tools, and building code considerations, as well as a complete resources guide, Earthbag Building is the long-awaited, definitive guide to this uniquely pleasing construction style.

Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer have been involved in the construction industry for the last 20 years, specializing in affordable, low-tech, low-impact building methods that are as natural as possible. They developed the "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" of building affordably with earthbags and have taught the subject and contributed their expertise to several books and journals on natural building.

The Complete Guide to Ceramic & Stone, Tile (Black & Decker: Creative Publishing International) Ceramic tile has been a premium building material for literally thousands of years. And for good reason-no material is more attractive or durable. Today, ceramic and stone tile is enjoying even greater popularity. Once the territory of skilled trade professionals, tile can now be installed with using modern thin-set adhesives, backer boards, and cutting tools that are easily usable by do-it-yourselfers of modest abilities. The Complete Guide to Ceramic & Stone Tile shows how to use these time-saving techniques and materials in virtually any tile application a homeowner is likely to encounter, both indoors and outdoors.

Though installing ceramic tile can still be time consuming, it is no longer particularly difficult, which makes it an ideal project for do-it-yourselfers. Homeowners can save hundreds-or even thousands-of dollars by doing the work themselves. In addition to its practical benefit, ceramic and stone tile lends itself to creative expression. A routine countertop installation these days can become an exciting and unique design statement by including custom hand-painted tiles, which are now commonly available at specialty tile stores. Readers of this book will not only master the basics of tile installation, they will discover hundreds of purely decorative ways to use ceramic tile around the house.

The Complete Guide to Ceramic & Stone Tile begins by teaching readers how to design a custom interior using tile, then presents in-depth, step-by-step information on all types of tile installation, including floors, walls, patios, countertops, backsplashes, and shower stalls. The book even includes decorative mosaic treatments that can be used to create ornamental tabletops, coffeetables, and garden planters. Readers will learn how to work with all types of tile in addition to ceramic, including quarry tile, terra cotta, and natural stone.

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