Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 720s

728: The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka


728.37: Susanka, Sarah. The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 2001. 194 pp. ISBN 1-56158-611-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 720: Architecture
  • 728: Residential and related buildings
  • 3: Specific kinds of conventional housing
  • 37: Separate houses

For a while there, people wanted large houses—big kitchens, big vaults, big bedrooms. But now, with a greater social awareness and rapid population comes the thought that there might be a limit to how much living space a person actually needs. Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House takes a look at how living spaces can be modified or built to accommodate a whole range of needs without becoming sprawling ranch houses.

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720: Gaudi by Juan-Eduardo Cirlot


720.92: Cirlot, Juan-Eduardo. Gaudi: An Introduction to His Architecture. N.P.: Triangle Postal, 2001. 210 pp. ISBN 84-89815-94-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 720: Architecture
  • +092: Biography

Antoni Gaudi i Cornet (1852 – 1926) was perhaps one of the most inventive architects of all time. His works were Seussian before Seuss was Seussian. The building he conceived, drafted, and had built have to be seen to be believed. From the Neo-gothic windows on the Palacio Episcopal de Astorga to the bulbous terraces on the Casa Mila, his innovations and additions to the field gave people a new interest in how buildings were made. His most significant work, the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, won’t be finished for another 12 to 14 years. Juan-Eduardo Cirlot’s Gaudi is a splendid look at the life, philosophy, and leaps of intuition that Gaudi experienced as one of the foremost designers of his time.

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727: The Flower of Empire by Tatiana Holway


727.6580942: Holway, Tatiana. The Flower of Empire: An Amazonian Water Lily, the Quest to Make it Bloom, and the World it Created. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013. 239 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-537389-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 720: Architecture
  • 727: Buildings for education and research purposes
  • 727.6: Museum buildings
  • 727.65: Science museums
  • 727.658: Botanical gardens
  • +0942: England and Wales

In 1837, Robert Hermann Schomburgk risked his life and his livelihood on a commission for the newly formed Royal Geographical Society. His mission was to explore the rivers and geology of the new South American colony of British Guiana and report back his findings. While fighting through waterfalls, clogged rivers, and epic swarms of mosquitoes, he encountered what he called a “vegetable wonder.” It was a water lily almost 10 feet in diameter with a giant, beautiful pink flower. He named it the Victoria lily in honor of the heir apparent to the throne at the time. The flower and its subsequent effect in revitalizing the botanical sciences in England are the subject of Tatiana Holway’s Flower of Empire.

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726: Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King

726.6094551: King, Ross. Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture. New York: Penguin, 2001. 167 pp. ISBN 0-1420-0015-9.

The 700s are dense. They are dedicated to the fine arts; you have fit all of them in there. Painting, photography, dance, acting, sculpture, comics, television, sports–everything. Since architecture is a fairly broad subject it gets all of the 720s. Our book today falls under 726–Architecture of buildings for religious or related purposes.

In August 1418, a simple competition was announced:

Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome of the Cathedral under construction by the Opera del Duomo–for armature, scaffold or other thing, or any lifting device pertaining to the construction and perfection of said cupola or vault–shall do so before the end of the month of September. If the model be used he shall be entitled to a payment of 200 gold Florins.

With that notice, Filippo Brunelleschi envisioned and led the construction of the greatest domed structure the world had ever seen. It would take him 28 years (until his death) and along the way, he would revolutionize construction techniques and apparatus.

Ross King does a very good job of telling the story of “the Duomo.” Brunelleschi’s life, even as an architect, is full of fun nuggets that will delight the Renaissance enthusiast. The book actually has a leg up on many others I’ve read; it has plenty of illustrations. In order to envision the magnitude of the Filippo’s achievement, numerous drawings from contemporaneous journals are provided to add to the fun. Like any great artist, Filippo gets into spats with his fellow architects and that makes the story that much richer. It’s a short book, but fun to read.