A Hut of One's Own: Life Outside the Circle of Architecture

Ann Cline, Author
Ann Cline, Author MIT Press (MA) $23 (167p) ISBN 978-0-262-53150-4
Reviewed on: 04/13/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
Hardcover - 168 pages - 978-0-262-28730-2
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Every child has felt the magic of a rainstorm from beneath a rickety porch roof, or some makeshift structure. In this passionately written m lange of autobiography and architectural criticism, Cline describes growing up in and later building structures that would re-create the experience of being barely protected from the big world outside. She begins by quoting work from different cultures that reflect nature as experienced from hut-like structures, as in these lines from ninth-century Chinese poet Po Chu-i: ""Already I feel that both in the courtyard and house/ Day by day a fresher air moves./ But most of all I love, lying near the window-side,/ To hear in their branches the sound of the autumn wind."" Cline has long been interested in the Japanese tea ritual, and the tea hut became the model for Cline's structures. While many passages describing experiences from huts are engagingly sweet and stir innocent memories (madeleine, anyone?), the rest of the book tends toward an over-reaching criticism of all architecture and even culture. Arguments borrow from a broad range of disciplines and are ultimately bound only by Cline's strong opinions. The result lies uncomfortably somewhere in between a researched study of the Hut; a gentle, poetic description of Cline's own projects; and a polemic on the state of architecture and architects' motivations. This is a brave book, nonetheless, that asks readers to try to understand the interaction of one's surroundings with every aspect of daily life, mundane and metaphysical. (June)
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