Thursday, 22 December 2016

Sky grass

The main book with photos and additional book with the essays plus the acrylic box.

Cover for the thirty-six page book with three essays and pages of thumbnails for the captions.
On the pages with two columns the text doesn't line horizontal.

Ten pages of thmbnails for the captions, basically a waste of space as the one line captions should have been with each relevant photo.

Brad Temkin's photos get a good showing in this book. The sixty-five images are shot in a straight forward reportage style as you would see in the National Geographic or Fortune magazine if they were running an article about roof ecology. I thought the best ones were those from a bird's eye view looking down on a roof with the vegetation and also including the street (the book's cover is a good example).

There are some interesting surprises here. Chicago City Hall has a tree, some feet high growing on its roof (page forty-one) Zurich's Udof Sud has grass and wild flowers seamlessly merging into the landscape (page sixty-nine) the vegetation on the roof of 111 South Wacker Drive, Chicago is sort of a sunken garden with glass walls probably a floor deep. Mostly though the photos show a rather thin layer of green occupying space not taken with air-con units, elevator and window washing equipment that is standard with commercial buildings. In the Introduction there is a mention of lightweight coverings developed in Germany that supports healthy plant growth and in the eighties and nineties green roofs become common in German cities. Unlike the thirties built Rockefeller Center which had public roof gardens on three buildings none of the greenery shown in this book is open to the public, rather it's an attempt (admittedly very small at the moment) to bring the natural environment into cities.

This is actually a book package, the photos are in an almost square book with page numbers on left-hand pages and very few on the right. The three essays are in a separate thirty-six page book with incredibly generous margins and text that doesn't line up horizontally on the two column pages. The last ten pages of this book have thumbnails of the photos for captions, these are just location and date and of course should have been on the same page as each photo. The two books are enclosed in a clear acrylic box with the title printed in white.

Why Radius Books should continually go in for this pretentious over-design with their publications is beyond me. For Rooftop the essays should have been in the book with the photos, likewise with the captions near each image and a thirty-six page book wouldn't have been necessary or the acrylic box.

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