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Digital edition: Atrium Buildings by Richard Saxon

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Richard Saxon’s Atrium Buildings, Design and Development, which was first published in 1983, has now been republished as a digital edition


Atrium Buildings, Design and Development, was first published in 1983 with a second edition in 1986. It was also published in the USA, Japan, Russia and Taiwan. The Atrium Comes of Age, its colour companion, was published in 1993 in the UK, USA and Japan. Both books predate the digital revolution so are inaccessible to today’s students, researchers and designers. Republishing these two titles digitally thirty and twenty years after their original issue brings their subject back into contention.

The second book should be read for the early history. Atrium buildings began in the late eighteenth century when glass and iron possibilities served a new interest in the great interior. It flourished throughout the nineteenth century but became rare after fire disasters and stopped entirely with the arrival of modern architecture with its emphasis on the freestanding object. Then in the 1970s it re-emerged and flourished for the rest of the twentieth century as architects returned to street-following urban design with courtyards and the ‘great indoors’ could be created both safely and dramatically.

The two books show how the atrium idea has many sources and that successful use of it has multiple aspects. As the world urbanises as never before, and aims for sustainability, so the qualities of the atrium building are likely to continue to appeal.

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