Eugene Asse was born in 1946 in Moscow, Russia and is a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Architecture (MARHI). In 1970 he worked as an architect in Moscow's Municipal Planning Office before completing his postgraduate studies in 1981 where he then headed the Urban Design Research Group in the State Institute of Design until 1986. In 1994 he founded the independent research and design group “Architectural Laboratory” and he is also a member of the European Cultural Parliament. Twice Commissioner of the Russian Pavilion at the Biennale of Architecture in Venice, he writes and lectures extensively on urban design and theory of architecture.
Our guest reviewer for this issue’s bookmarked section is Eugene Asse, head of Asse Architects and founder and dean of the new Moscow Architecture School, MARCH which launched in 2012. MARCH aims “to build up a new model of architectural education in Russia that produces professionals trained to the highest international standards”, says Asse. It was founded as a postgraduate alternative to the two poles of architecture currently available in city: the Moscow Institute of Architecture and the Strelka Institute. MARCH is validated by the London Metropolitan University. uncube asked Professor Asse to pick what he considers four essential books for the architecture undergraduate.
De Architectura, or Ten Books on Architecture as it was published in English, was written by the Roman author, architect and civil enginer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio during the first century BCE. Many copies existed in manuscript form during the Middle Ages (92 of which survive today) and interest in the work was revived again during the Renaissance. The first printed edition was published in 1486, and has lived on in various translations and edited versions throughout the centuries.
Ten Books on Architecture
Real author: Vitruvius
Editors: Ingrid D. Rowland, Thomas Noble Howe
Re-published: Paperback‚ March 2001
Cambridge University Press
In Praise of Shadows
Original Japanese publication 1933
First English translation 1977, Leete’s Island Books
After two millennia, this is still the best book about our profession. Thanks to Vitruvius one can understand what it means to be an architect and what an incredible range of skills and knowledge is required. Vitruvius’ trinity for an ideal building – utilitas, firmitas venustas (commodity, firmness, delight) – is still valuable even today.
This book is not strictly about architecture. It speaks of light and darkness, of East and West, of permanence and change, of old and new. Nevertheless I consider it to be one of the most important architectural books, which tells the extraordinary and poetic story of space, materials, feelings and values in architecture.
Original Italian publication 1972
First English translation 1974, Harcourt Brace
History of Architecture
Original French publication 1899
This book is about power of imagination. In it Italo Calvino designed fifty-five absolutely amazing cities, each one with its own history and fantastic architecture, populated by strange people living an extraordinary life. For the architect, this book is a unique lesson of freedom, poetry, courage and wisdom.
Choisy was the only historian who analysed architecture from an anatomical point of view. He described buildings as living organisms, discovering their skeleton, muscles and skin. It is no accident that Le Corbusier, who was not wont to ready praise, called Choisy’s 1899 Histoire de l’Architecture “the most worthy book ever written on architecture”.