We flicked to Page 23 of this month’s Architectural Review, a special on books and libraries, and were wowed by this archi-text-ural cover page.
A full-page illustration of an elaborate neo-classical archway adorns page 23, with an opening sentence in place of a frieze. This magnificent arch invites us to cross the threshold into Hannah Gregory’s investigation into the reciprocities between text and architecture.
The page offers a meta-narrative into the relationship of reader to the text, acting not just as an entranceway to the essay, but also as a portal connecting the history of its subject matter to the present moment of the reader. It also marks a change of paper stock: it’s not often that you can call beige a distinctive colour! Here it serves as a grown-up version of tea-stained history homework in the middle of this mostly glossy magazine, offering us the same tactile pleasure that the writer elaborates on.
AR has always pushed the boundaries of the genre with its dynamic and often flamboyant attitude to magazine-making, and it’s fascinating to read an in-depth piece elaborating on the spatial potential of text for the magazine form.
AR isn’t afraid to enrich the theme and push the focus onto art and design beyond architecture, as the illustrations to Gregory’s piece show: with typographic experiments including ‘Typestract 63’ by Dom Sylvester in which a few lines of typewritten letters and hand drawn lines form a building plan; and a page from ‘A Humument’ by artist Tom Philips, overlaying a Victorian novel with paint and collage, ultimately changing the meaning of the original text.
Following on from this piece is a series of short essays featured as a book-within-a-book, with hand-drawn marginalia reminiscent of medieval manuscripts inviting you to roam the essays in a non-linear way, much like you might roam a building. This issue holds up to the long history of this title’s sensibility of valuing writing and editorial design as much as architecture itself.
Editor: Manon Mollard
Art Director: Tom Carpenter