“Four Walls and a Roof tells the stories that tend to get left out of official histories, but which actually shape our physical environment.”
Featured in The Guardian’s Best Architecture Books of 2017.
“Drawing on his own tragicomic experiences in the field, Reinier de Graaf reveals the world of contemporary architecture in vivid snapshots: from suburban New York to the rubble of northern Iraq.”
Featured in The World Architecture Community Best Architecture Books of 2017.
Four Walls and a Roof by Reinier de Graff is a tale of how the success of architecture, its designer’s inspiration and its impact, is determined by external forces. This success in itself is a myth as to achieve anything, architects must expose themselves to criticism and a perpetual conditions of conflict of interest.
In this world of creating buildings, the parties involved, architects, developers, politicians and consultants, find that contests and compromise are needed. Control is a myth.
Reinier de Graaf gives amazing insight into the world of architecture through his own experiences in contemporary architecture. From the outside, it may seem that the craft is an elevated form of art that shapes the world in the way that it pleases.
Reinier de Graaf shows that it is quite the opposite by revealing his own tragic experiences with vivid snapshots taken from the suburban New York to the rubble of northern Iraq, from the corridors of wealth in London, Moscow, and Dubai to garbage-strewn wastelands that represent the demolished hopes of postwar social housing.
He introduces the reader to oligarchs determined to translate their goals and ambitions into concrete and steel, developers for whom architecture is merely an investment, and the layers of politicians, bureaucrats, consultants, and mysterious hangers-on who lie between the initial architectural idea and the chance of its execution.
This field is complex and can break the architect and Reinier de Graaf exposes its deceptive simplicity.
The Economist gives his works praise with this review:
“Something of a revelation…[De Graaf] has produced an original and even occasionally hilarious book about losing ideals and finding them again…He deftly shows that architecture cannot be better or more pure than the flawed humans who make it.”