Architecture on the Carpet: The Curious Tale of Construction Toys and the Genesis of Modern Buildings
By Brenda and Robert Vale
This intriguing book offers a novel view of the development of modern architecture through the prism of children’s construction toys. Informative, opinionated and ranging across more than a century of toys and architectural trends, this book inspires an infectious nostalgia for these wonderful toys, many of them vintage classics.
The authors discover a host of connections linking model-building sets with architectural movements, social history, and national identities. They investigate not only how model sets reflected building styles, but also whether they influenced the careers of children who grew up playing with them.
Some construction toys have looked to the past – Richter’s Blocks, Lincoln Logs and Tudor Minibrix, for example. Others have looked to the future: as early as the 1920s, the American metal toy Bilt-E-Z could be used to construct the iconic stepped-back skyscraper, like the Empire State building in New York. Later the British Arkitex and American Girder and Panel mirrored the steel-framed glass towers of the modern era.
The Vales show how the prefabricated engineered aesthetic of Meccano and Lego does seem to have influenced some notable architects. They draw out novel connections between model-railway buildings and modernism; model sets such as Castos and reinforced concrete housing; and even between the creative but slightly surreal Playplax and postmodern deconstructivist architecture. Publisher: Thames & Hudson
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