• Bricks and Words #2: ‘Crystal Palace’

    A day later than advertised, apologies.... It is impossible to overstate the achievement represented by the conception, design and erection of Joseph Paxton’s great iron and glass building, the pop-up home of the 1851 Great Exhibition in London and the ancestor of today’s High-Tech movement.

    McKean’s exceptional narrative – mostly, and wonderfully effectively, rendered in the present tense – covers every aspect of this cutting-edge work, beginning with Paxton’s famous blotting paper sketch during a business meeting, working through his relentless rationalisation of the pre-fabricated components and ending with the astonishingly efficient construction in Hyde Park itself, where the hoardings surrounding the site become the wooden floors of the hall and a third of a million panes of glass are installed by men on trolleys. Staggeringly, the building was finished less than eight months after that sketch was first scribbled; read this fabulous book and discover how, the make your own connections to what followed it.

    'Crystal Palace' by John McKean (Phaidon Press Limited, 1994; also available compiled with other as Lost Masterpieces, 1999, from the same publisher)


Chris Rogers writer on architecture and visual culture

Click blog images to expand; pre-Sept 2011 posts here


Chris is one of more than a dozen specialists whose essays make up this new look at the City of Light, edited by John Flower. Looking at the French capital's history, culture and districts, each item is presented in a concise text that can be read in just half a minute and is beautifully illustrated with its own full-colour collage-style spread. Published on 1 March, 30-Second Paris is a must for any lover of the world's most visited city.

The Ivy Press, 2018

Hardback, 160 pages | ISBN 9781782405443


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