Four Walls and a Roof - The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession

Af Reinier De Graaf

DKK 249


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Four Walls and a Roof - The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession. Tells the story of a profession buffeted by external forces that determine--at least as much as individual inspiration--what architects design. A must-read list for architects, planners, and urban designers alike

Four Walls and a Roof - The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession. Architecture, we like to believe, is an elevated art form that shapes the world as it pleases. Four Walls and a Roof challenges this notion, presenting a candid account of what it is really like to work as an architect.

Drawing on his own tragicomic experiences in the field, Reinier de Graaf reveals the world of contemporary architecture in vivid snapshots: from suburban New York to the rubble of northern Iraq, from the corridors of wealth in London, Moscow, and Dubai to garbage-strewn wastelands that represent the demolished hopes of postwar social housing. We meet oligarchs determined to translate ambitions into concrete and steel, developers for whom architecture is mere investment, and the layers of politicians, bureaucrats, consultants, and mysterious hangers-on who lie between any architectural idea and the chance of its execution.

Four Walls and a Roof tells the story of a profession buffeted by external forces that determine--at least as much as individual inspiration--what architects design. Perhaps the most important myth debunked is success itself. To achieve anything, architects must serve the powers they strive to critique, finding themselves in a perpetual conflict of interest. Together, architects, developers, politicians, and consultants form an improvised world of contest and compromise that none alone can control.


This is the most stimulating book on architecture and its practice that I have read for years. Not only is de Graaf a good anecdotalist (his hilarious account of a long-winded and fruitless masterplanning competition in Russia should be turned into a film), but a perceptive analyst of how architecture represents, or connects with, wider political and economic movements and trends.—Paul Finch, Architects’ Journal

A refreshingly accessible, honest portrayal of a quixotic field from someone within the most successful architecture firm in the world today… One of the most intelligent, candid discussions on architecture I have read to date. Thus, Four Walls and a Roof offers an entertaining, penetrating, and much needed primer on the current state of the profession and the contemporary global forces influencing the built environment. A must-read list for architects, planners, and urban designers alike.—Erick Villagomez, Spacing

The title of this book, provided by an innocent enquirer, has provoked Reinier de Graaf into a shrewd, lucid, and engaging survey of the architecture and building scene. He seems to have been everywhere and listened to anyone who is—or has been—active and influential in building and planning, from Prince Charles to Buckminster Fuller. Yet he has also managed to direct attention to some neglected personalities, past and present—Ernst Neufert, Lucien Kroll. You will not find a better guide to planning, building, and architecture of the last half-century!—Joseph Rykwert, Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

[It] tells the stories that tend to get left out of official histories, but which actually shape our physical environment… De Graaf’s book is sharp, revealing, funny, drily passionate and not always encouraging.—Rowan Moore, The Guardian

Something of a revelation… [De Graaf] has produced an original and even occasionally hilarious book about losing ideals and finding them again… He deftly shows that architecture cannot be better or more pure than the flawed humans who make it.The Economist

About the author

Reinier de Graaf is Partner at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam.

ForfatterReinier De Graaf
Format23,7 x 16,3 cm
ForlagHarvard University Press
IndbindingSoft cover
Side tal513 sider, 73 illustrationer