Building bible

It was with much anticipation that the updated Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture was received.

Since 2004, The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture imposed itself worldwide as the ultimate reference in terms of contemporary architecture. The book is now sold out and out of print. It is thus with much anticipation that the updated edition, entitled The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture, was received.

The book follows the same format – an imposing, Bible-like catalogue of the best buildings in the world completed since 2000. More than 1 000 projects are described with colour photographs, descriptive texts, small-scale plans and key data. Complete with statistical urban data, it offers an exceptional mass of information, easily accessible through an effective cross-referencing system and clear, good-looking graphics. The scale and type of buildings vary as much as their geographic, climatic and cultural contexts. Our own South Africa is strongly represented, with 29 architectural works featured – that is 12 more than in the previous edition.
Despite this great variety, the atlas portrays a surprisingly homogeneous collection of works in terms of shape and materials – or rather, should I say, homogeneously mixed, as if regional influences had been shuffled thoroughly in the globalisation shaker. Tellingly, the architectural vocabulary of the 2000s seems not to know any borders and, without the geographical information provided, one would be quite unable to locate most buildings on a world map. Still, each one of the 800 pages features a discovery or a masterpiece, something that will make your eyes widen in admiration and, sometimes, doubt.

Either as a comprehensive visual resource or as your own way to travel new places, this heavyweight is a dream book for architecture professionals and aficionados alike. The precious thing comes in its own jewel case: a specially designed translucent green wonder-suitcase. A reduced version as well as a digital book will also soon be available for travellers.