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BOOK

REVIEW

Living Library: Wiel Arets, University Library Utrecht Prestel, 2005. 400pp. £25

On the other hand, in the long run Archigram may have done more harm than good by legitimising paper architecture and not bothering to build anything. The projects may have been buildable, but that didn't make them real.

Archigram's medium was the magazine, its milieu was the school of architecture and its model was the music industry.

The architect as rock star is basically an Archigram invention.

Sadler has researched his subject thoroughly, placing the projects in their social and intellectual context with great precision. But a nagging doubt remains: does Archigram really deserve to be taken so seriously?

Colin Davies is an author and professor at London Metropolitan University. His latest book is The Prefabricated Home Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Library received a lot of plaudits last year but Wiel Arets' new University Library Utrecht (ULU), on a Koolhaas-planned campus, looks at least its equal, both for architecture and for user-friendliness. The first impression is of Miesian restraint offset by Semperian 'tattooing' - the repeated willow-motif that appears in shallow relief on the concrete and screenprinted on the glass, like fossil or spectral plant life - but the spatial qualities of the interior have much in common with Scharoun's great library in Berlin. Prestel's excellent monograph gives a real sense of the building in use, while the texts include an interesting discussion between Arets and ULU's director Bas Savenije and some thoughts on the future of libraries.

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