Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
A passionate work
You don't need a lot of background in architecture to appreciate this wonderful book. Professor Schoenauer, who was emeritus professor of architecture at McGill University until his death in 2001, takes us on a guided tour of a huge number of different housing styles over a great expanse of time and in highly varied cultural contexts. He really makes you feel as if he has personally inspected all of the places he describes (though it hardly seems possible that anyone could have) and he does this without overburdening his reader with too many technical terms or requiring us to have a very profound understanding of why houses stand up. Perhaps what really makes the book alive is the author's own drawings--something like more than 500 line drawings of floor plans, cross-sections, elevation views, city plans, etc, etc, etc.
The book is divided into three major sections: The Pre-Urban House, the Oriental Urban House, and the Occidental Urban House. The first section divides housing into types by socio-economic/cultural organization which the author suggests is more or less evolutionary (though these types may be found simultaneously though distributed in space). The second section examines a very long span of time (but including in some cases the present) with detailed discussions of typical house designs in various periods in Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, China, and Islamic cultures. The final section is an historical treatment of developments in the West: the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 19th century, and the 20th century are all treated in turn.
Now something about the style of the book. At first, I was a bit distracted by Professor Shoenauer's digressions on culture, anthropology, historical sidelights, etc., but after a bit I started looking forward to these as much as learning about the buildings themselves. Admittedly, he doesn't always use the most recent or varied sources for his historical treatments (for instance, his sections on the dissolution of the Roman Empire could, in my opinion, be improved). And yet, by buying this book you are obviously reading someone's life work--and life passion--someone who is really overflowing with ideas, committment, scholarship, and who has an incredibly detailed and varied knowledge of his subject.