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Architecture in Play

Intimations of Modernism in Architectural Toys

Tamar Zinger (author)

ISBN: 9780813937724

Publication Date: Dec 2015

Format: Hardback

Created for children but designed by adults with considerable ingenuity, architectural toys have long offered a window on a much larger world. Tamar Zinguer explores the two-hundred-year period over which such playthings have reflected changing attitudes toward form, structure, and permanence, echoing modernist experiments and stylistic inclinations in fascinating ways while also incorporating technological advances.
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Created for children but designed by adults with considerable ingenuity, architectural toys have long offered a window on a much larger world. In Architecture in Play, Tamar Zinguer explores the two-hundred-year period over which such playthings have reflected changing attitudes toward form, structure, and permanence, echoing modernist experiments and stylistic inclinations in fascinating ways while also incorporating technological advances in their systems of construction. Zinguer’s history of these toys reveals broader social and economic trends from their respective periods.

Focusing on four primary building materials (wood, stone, metal, and paper), Zinguer discusses four important construction sets: Friedrich Froebel’s Gifts (1836)--cubes, spheres, and cylinders that are gradually broken down to smaller geometrical parts; Anchor Stone Building Blocks (1877), comprising hundreds of miniature stone shapes that yield castles, forts, and churches; Meccano (1901) and the Erector Set (1911), including small metal girders to construct bridges and skyscrapers mimetic of contemporary steel structures; and The Toy (1950) and House of Cards (1952), designed by Charles and Ray Eames, which are lightweight cardboard "kits of parts" based on methods of prefabrication.

Used in the intimacy of the domestic environment, a setting that encouraged the eradication of formal habits and a reconceiving of visual orders, architectural toys ultimately intimated notions of the modern. Amply illustrated and engagingly written, this book sheds valuable light on this fascinating relation between household toys and the deeper trends and ideas from which they sprung.

Reviews

"Written in a clear, readable style, refreshingly free of jargon, Architecture in Play uses a number of prominent construction toys in Europe and the United States as examples of an interconnectedness between such toys and mainstream architectural thought. Tamar Zinguer’s book broadens our understanding of the larger contextual field of architectural discourse." Dietrich Neumann, Brown University, coeditor of Cities of Light: Two Centuries of Urban Illumination.
Illustrations 147 black and white illustrations
Pages 256
Dimensions 229 x 203
Date Published 30 Dec 2015
Publisher University of Virginia Press
Subject/s Technical design   Toys: making & decorating   Product design  
Tamar Zinguer is Associate Professor at the Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.

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