In his new book, Unresolved Legibility in Residential Types, architect and academic Clark Thenhaus proposes new understandings and interpretations of American residential architecture by investigating and graphically illustrating the forms, spaces, and histories of ten residential types through careful analyses that link social, cultural, and political histories with architectural expressions. Noting that houses are long-standing subjects of architectural discourse, cultural reflection, and experimentation, Thenhaus exposes a confluence of architectural and broader cultural phenomena by articulating that the house is not only susceptible to, but in fact requires renewal and re-imagination as it reflects shifting societal and architectural values. Unresolved Legibility in Residential Types proposes that legibility in architecture requires both visual clarity of a building’s appearance such that its formal, spatial, and material compositions can be comprehended, as well as a certain clarity of its received social, cultural, and political or contextual histories. Rather than an exercise in objective typological or historical analyses of ten residential types, Thenhaus positions legibility in architecture as an open, inconclusive, and unresolved source for historical investigations, formal analysis, and projective architectural imaginations.
Populated with over 500 drawings, diagrams, rendered images, and photographs across twelve chapters, Unresolved Legibility in Residential Types explores concepts of character, context, frontality, corners, systemization, physiognomy, symmetry, doors, walls, and stacks as they pertain to the circumstances, qualities, and effects of residential architecture ranging from a remote one-room cabin to urban row houses. Designers and scholars interested in the interrelations between architectural design, history, and theory will appreciate the breadth and depth of this book.