There’s something extremely dramatic about the use of the colour black in architecture. Both mysterious and intense, the aesthetic of a building is completely transformed by this choice of palette. In a new book by Phaidon, black architecture is celebrated. Holding a strong cultural and historical significance – whether signalling transgression or devotion, penury or luxury, introspection or extroversion – black is at the centre of both personal and social experience, making this thought-provoking compendium exciting and relevant.
Architecture in Monochrome features over 150 diverse structures from 1,000 years of architecture, comprising significant historical landmarks that have shaped the record of building in black.
From the eleventh-century, tar-treated building on the Faroe Islands; to the twelfth-century Fantoft Stave Church blacked with age; from Modernism’s stark structures enclosed in dark glass to the black concrete of the angular contemporary theatre in Tokyo, the historical influences of black can be seen in a multitude of different materials and architectural styles from around the world.
Showcasing works by some of the most notable architects of the twentieth century including Philip Johnson, Eero Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe, alongside celebrated contemporary architects such as David Adjaye, Jean Nouvel, Peter Marino and Steven Holl, the book covers rural barns, Georgina townhouses, Icelandic chapels, and traditional Portuguese stone houses.
Each entry is illustrated with stunning photography and is accompanied by an engaging text that explores the role of black in the building’s design. It’s also interspersed with classic song lyrics and insightful quotes about the monochromatic colour – from famous names like Johnny Cash, J.M.W Turner, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe, Yohji Yamamoto and Aristotle – which add depth and context while highlighting the pervasive admiration of black throughout popular culture.