Architecture in Play: Intimations of Modernism in Architectural Toys

Architecture in Play: Intimations of Modernism in Architectural Toys

by Tamar Zinguer


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Created for children but designed by adults with considerable ingenuity, architectural toys have long offered a window on a much larger world. In Architecture in Play, Tamar Zinguer explores the nearly two-hundred-year period over which such playthings have reflected changing attitudes toward form, structure, and permanence, echoing modernist experiments and stylistic inclinations in fascinating ways while also incorporating technological advances in their systems of construction. Zinguer’s history of these toys reveals broader social and economic trends from their respective periods.

Focusing on four primary building materials (wood, stone, metal, and paper), Zinguer discusses a series of important architectural toys: Friedrich Froebel’s Gifts (1836), cubes, spheres, and cylinders that are gradually broken down to smaller geometrical parts; Anchor Stone Building Blocks (1877), comprising hundreds of miniature stone shapes that yield castles, forts, and churches; Meccano (1901) and Erector Set (1911), including small metal girders to construct bridges and skyscrapers mimetic of contemporary steel structures; and The Toy (1950) and House of Cards (1952), designed by Charles and Ray Eames, which are lightweight cardboard "kits of parts" based on methods of prefabrication.

Used in the intimacy of the domestic environment, a setting that encouraged the eradication of formal habits and a reconceiving of visual orders, architectural toys ultimately intimated notions of the modern. Amply illustrated and engagingly written, this book sheds valuable light on this fascinating relation between household toys and the deeper trends and ideas from which they sprang.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813937724
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Publication date: 12/04/2015
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tamar Zinguer is Associate Professor at the Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.

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