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Herzog & De Meuron 1992-1996: The Complete Works Volume 3

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Edited by Gerhard Mack. Birkhauser, 2000. 272pp. £64.95

This third volume of the complete works of Herzog & de Meuron covers the period 1992-1996, which includes Tate Modern, writes John Winter .These years have seen a shift in the practice's work, a growing complexity, and what might be called a search for decorativeness.

Herzog & de Meuron first came to international attention with its Goetz Gallery in Munich - still, to my mind, its best building. The Goetz Gallery is pure and self-contained but the newer work, while retaining much of the clarity of concept, is overlaid with rich complications - printed images, reflections, chance weatherings.

Herzog and de Meuron has always been influenced by artists, often collaborating with them on the design of a building. Gerhard Mack credits the change of direction from the early works (when they were under the influence of Donald Judd) to their interest in Joseph Beuys and Gordon Matta-Clark - a decisive move away from simple minimalism to a preoccupation with visual and sensual values.Mack sees this change, somewhat fancifully I thought, as analogous to the process of seduction.

The increased richness, indeed search for ornament, finds first expression in the library for Eberswalde University, with a facade of repeating photographs printed on bands of glass and concrete.There is also the welcoming of serendipity, as in the light filtering through gabions in the Napa Valley winery or the rainwater being encouraged to stain concrete walls at RicolaEurope and at the Zaugg studio.

I cannot say that I enjoy all of these complications, but Herzog & de Meuron does manage to retain the clarity of concept, and it is certainly enriching our vocabulary as it tries to move on from minimalism.At Tate Modern it is the old building that gives it the richness it seeks.

The book is well produced with beautiful photographs.The work is discussed from a very theoretical standpoint with serious writing but not much technical information.

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