April 18, 2013

From Bauhaus To Our House is a killer title for a book on architecture. But, I’ve always had the feeling that Tom Wolfe’s 1981 tome was a bit thin on the analysis. Thumbing through a vintage copy recently, I realised just how pernickety it really is. Dubbing Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius the ‘Silver Prince’, he positions him as the progenitor of a long line of modernists who would create houses like ‘insecticide refineries’ and develop cityscapes he calls ‘Rues of Regret’. Reductive? Sure. Axe-grinding? Very likely. And while his snubbing of the International Style for designing buildings like ‘duplicating-maching replacement-parts wholesale distribution warehouses’ is witty, it is far from incisive. Clearly, in terms of architectural criticism, Mr Wolfe is lacking The Right Stuff. But I was happy to be reminded just what snappy dressers Gropius and Le Corbusier were. Respect.

Author: Nick tobias