Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Architectural Pop-up Book: "The Architecture Pack"

So I'm wandering through the architecture section of the local Half-Price Books looking for anything cheap and interesting, and I come across the coolest thing: an out-of-print, architectural pop-up book!

The Architecture Pack : A Unique, Three-Dimensional Tour of Architecture over the Centuries : What Architects Do, How They Do It by Ron Van Der Meer and Deyan Sudjic is a delightful mixture of fact and fun. It mixes pop-ups of famous buildings with flip and folds, overlays, action pull-tabs, guide-strings, 3D glasses to see hidden redlines and bluelines, and even includes a kit to put together a house, an audio cassette tape, and a pocket architecture glossary. Though published in 1997, the entire kit seems to have been the inspiration for the later produced Ologies books, such as Pirateology. Each page even has upside-down text that encourages the reader to turn the book around and see With visions of my son flipping the pages in the future, and playing with the interactive parts of the book to learn what daddy does for a living (someday), I gleefully snatched up the book and ran to the counter. When I finally got home to examine it in-depth, I knew I had to snap photos of it and post it on my blog.

This first page of the book shows the early history of Architecture including mention of Imhotep as "the first Architect". The popups show a tepee and an old hammer-beam half-timber frame house from Great Hall in Westminster, built in 1399.

Here's a beautiful pop-up of Falling Water in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1936).

Of course, no book would be complete without mentioning the Roman Coliseum, of which The Pack has a nice wraparound foldout.

Villa Rotonda (aka Villa Capra), built 1550-1569 by Andrea Palladio, is also featured.

The book gives an excellent example of how the concept of Gothic arches were developed. If you look closely in the lower-left quadrant of the photo, you can see little blue tabs on red strings to demonstrate how the overlapping circles arrived at the uniquely distinctive shape of a Gothic arch, which ultimately lead to...

The Chartres Cathedral was completed in France in 1260, but didn't make it to 3D on paper till over 700 years later.

The Karlsplatz Subway Station in Vienna, designed and built by Otto Wagner in 1898.

I was amazed that they managed to include a complex a shape as a Sydney Opera House, by Jørn Utzon (1973).

The famous courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale di Urbino is credited in the book to Federico da Montefeltro, though it is the work of many architects, starting with Luciano Laurana.

Kinkakuji (aka The Temple of the Golden Pavilion), in Kyoto, Japan, 1397 remains to this day just as beautiful as it was then. It's real name is Rokuon-ji, if you're ever in the neighborhood.

Chapel of Nôtre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France, by Le Corbusier is another irregularly shaped building that translates beautifully to the popup book.

In front is the elevator safety design by Elisha Otis cleverly operated by a pull-tab, where you can see the car and counterweight move up and down opposite to one another. In the back you can see the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, designed by César Pelli in 1996.

The John Hancock Center in Chicago, Illinois (1970) by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, is even portrayed, to show off the tapered skyscraper design.

"The Getty Brief" of the Getty Museum by Richard Meier & Partners. At the time the book was written, the museum had not yet been finished.

The coup de gras, an included kit to create a tiny paper scale model of the Schroder House by Gerrit Rietveld. And mine is still in the original wrap! I'm still debating as to whether or not to break it out and assemble it or not. I have the same misgivings about opening the Frank Lloyd Wright Lego set, should I actually win it.

The Architecture Pack is a surprise and delight all the way to the end. I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on a cassette player so I can actually hear what is on the tape. I also have a feeling the included pocket glossary will come in handy in the very near future. When I looked up the price of the book last night on Amazon, there was only one seller, selling for about $63. I felt elated at having scored it for only $10. Today, there are people selling it for $4. Rather than feeling upset, because I fully intend to keep my copy, I think I might just pick up a second copy and let the boy use that one as a popup book, and keep this one for know...for reference purposes...


  1. I have a fondness for pop up books-- have you ever tried to make one? It's tougher than it looks. And this one looks really awesome.

  2. I think I tried once when I was back in grade school. Nothing particularly fancy, just like a turning-wheel thingy that showed two different pictures, and a page with flip-up tiles. But nothing so complex as even a "pop-up" 3-D image on the page. After having read this book, I'm very tempted to try... Actually, when I have to start turning in 3D models for class, I wonder if a pop-up brief might be more easily transportable and amusing than a large 3D model... though something tells me the professor might not be amused.

  3. I LOVE this...I'm off to Amazon to try and find one of my own...

    I used to make simple pop-up cards for my friends' birthdays.


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