No discussion of the life and work of Oscar Niemeyer is complete without Brasília, the dazzling capital that sprung up in the Brazilian savanna in 1961. The Brazilian starchitect who passed away on Wednesday, was responsible for the project’s crowning achievement: the monumental government buildings that stood proudly as emblems of the power of Modernist architecture’s promise—and, later, unfortunate failure—to shape a utopian society.
What gets less attention is that, a decade earlier, another urban vision was taking form more than 8,000 miles away, in India, under the supervision of Le Corbusier. Chandigarh, like Brasília, was intended to be a sparkling new city, created from scratch as a way of shaking off the albatross of colonialism and instating a native, democratic government. And modern notions of urban planning and architecture were central to both new capitals, as the premier architectural photographer Iwan Baan documents in a recent book, “Brasília-Chandigarh”. Fifty years into existence, the two cities have evolved into examples of how grand utopian projects can both inspire and disappoint.
Books about fast-evolving fields can, obviously, get out of date pretty quickly. One solution: turn it into an iPad app that gets updated as needed.
Our picks: 2012’s Best Business Books. What would you add to this list?
Cause and Effect: Visualizing Sustainability (Gestalten, 2012) showcases the campaigns, posters, digital media, and guerrilla marketing that have the power to change not only how we think about the environment, but also what we do about it. The thesis is simple: The more elegant the delivery, the more receptive we are to the message.
A new book from Gestalten, Forever: The New Tattoo, provides a snapshot of the current state of the field by profiling some of the world’s most vibrant and skillful tattooers.
“From their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions—fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things.”
“If you tell kids that they can get a book with sex in it for free, that might be enough to spark some desire for reading.”
That’s the thesis behind Uprise Books, a nonprofit that is sending low-income students all the good books that have been banned or challenged to promote teen literacy, fight censorship, and halt the cycle of poverty.
Benedikt Taschen has way too much fun. He lives in L.A.’s Chemosphere, an iconic flying saucer–shaped house designed by John Lautner. He collaborates and socializes with artists and celebrities. He is the force behind Taschen, an international publishing house that produces books on “art, anthropology and aphrodisiac.” He has stores in 12 international cities, 250 employees, and releases 100 new titles a year.