Wood, ed. William Hall 2017
Wood, is another one of Phaidon Publishers great books! The introduction by Richard Mabey points out that wood was man’s earliest building material and serves purposes as diverse as providing decorative surfaces and weight bearing infrastructure. He highlights the latter by telling the story of the building of 14th C Westminster Hall which utilized 760 tons of oak trees, cut down, shaped, and jointed to be elevated to support the largest wooden roof in England. The stunning photographs and brief descriptions of 170 wooden structures are grouped into chapters headed Form, Texture, Juxtaposition, Landscape, Light, Mass, Presence, and Scale though the photographs could just as easily have been shuffled and reordered. The buildings range from private homes to churches, from libraries to freight terminals and are located all over the world though Norway, the UK, and Japan are the most frequent sites. One can easily spend several hours leisurely leafing through this volume, just enjoying the aesthetics or trying to divine the engineering and woodworking skills that enabled them to be built. Headquartered in London and New York City, Phaidon consistently publishes beautiful volumes that their web site describes as “innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children.” This book would make a fine companion for a quiet evening or a great gift for anyone interested in architecture, design, or wood. There are additional Phaidon books on brick and concrete structures that I hope to read as well.