Books

Lessons in Building Community

Writer Michael Webb chronicles the evolution and current state of large-scale residential design.

Writer Michael Webb chronicles the evolution and current state of large-scale residential design.

After 40 years in his apartment in a Richard Neutra-designed complex in Los Angeles, architecture writer Michael Webb was more than qualified to attest to the life-changing potential of residential buildings. His experience informed Building Community (Thames & Hudson), a new book that examines modern and contemporary multifamily architecture. His subjects comprise 30 projects from around the world, from OFIS Arhitekti’s adaptive reuse in Slovenia, to Single Speed Design’s microhousing units in South Korea, to OMA and Ole Scheeren’s Interlace complex in Singapore (pictured here). A few are from big-name firms like Bjarke Ingels Group and Gehry Partners, though around half are the products of smaller studios. Webb traces the thread of utopian dreaming through the projects, identifying modernist experiments like Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation (1952) as the predecessors to some of today’s planned communities. As Webb explains in the introduction, overpopulation and climate change have exponentially increased the need for high-rise construction, largely rendering the single-family home a dream of the past. The only way forward, it would seem, is up.

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