Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo / Published by Dwell
Covering a wide range of iconic homes from Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye to Shigeru Ban’s Curtain Wall House, Phaidon's recently published book is a visual celebration of modernist architecture.

As a visual manifesto and thought-provoking assessment of modernism, Ornament is Crime was written by Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill, the founders of The Modern House—a design-forward London-based real estate agency that focuses on modernist properties and is named after F.R.S. Yorke’s celebrated 1934 book The Modern House (which introduced modernist architecture to a British audience).

Examining iconic works by Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius—alongside some of the best contemporary architects of the 21st century—it states a case for the continuous progression of the modernist movement, from its roots to the present day.

Cover photo of Marcel Breuer’s Starkey House in Duluth, Minnesota (1955). Photo by Ezra Stoller / Esto, Courtesy of Phaidon and The Modern House

Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 1 of 10 -

The book’s title has been taken from a 1910 lecture of the same name by the Austrian architect and theorist Adolf Loos, in which he denounced the florid forms of art nouveau, in favor of "smooth and precious surfaces." This helped define and usher in the modernism movement. The featured homes have been laid out according to their aesthetic similarities, showing the relationship between the structures—despite being separated by geographical location and history. The homes are pictured in black-and-white, emphasizing form over detail. It also includes literary excerpts and quotes from some of modern architecture's most notable players.

"It demonstrates the sheer diversity of modernism, but also its main characteristics, which have remained largely consistent. We have placed houses from different eras alongside each other to show how architects have continued to translate the principles of modernism in a remarkably similar way," explained Gibberd. 

Below, we take a look at some of the homes featured. 

Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 2 of 10 - Adolf Loos: Villa Müller in Prague, Czech Republic, 1930 

Adolf Loos: Villa Müller in Prague, Czech Republic, 1930 


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 3 of 10 - Le Corbusier: Villa Savoye in Poissy, France, 1928-1931

Le Corbusier: Villa Savoye in Poissy, France, 1928-1931


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 4 of 10 - Marcel Breuer: Starkey House in Duluth, Minnesota, 1955

Marcel Breuer: Starkey House in Duluth, Minnesota, 1955


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 5 of 10 - Philip Johnson: Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, 1949

Philip Johnson: Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, 1949


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 6 of 10 - Juan O'Gorman: Casa O'Gorman in Mexico City, Mexico, 1929

Juan O'Gorman: Casa O'Gorman in Mexico City, Mexico, 1929


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 7 of 10 - Walter Gropius: The Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1937-1938

Walter Gropius: The Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1937-1938


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 8 of 10 - Shigeru Ban: The Curtain Wall House in Tokyo, Japan, 1994-1995 

Shigeru Ban: The Curtain Wall House in Tokyo, Japan, 1994-1995 


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 9 of 10 - Fran Silvestre Arquitectos: Aluminum House in Madrid, Spain, 2016

Fran Silvestre Arquitectos: Aluminum House in Madrid, Spain, 2016


Dive Into a Visually Stunning Book That Celebrates Modernist Architecture and its Evolution - Photo 10 of 10 - Tadao Andao: House in Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, 2011

Tadao Andao: House in Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, 2011

Ornament is Crime can be purchased directly from Phaidon here.