A Guide to Finnish Architecture is a thorough reference book that covers the history of Finnish architecture from medieval fortresses and churches to the latest developments of High Modernism – including seminal works by Alvar Aalto, Aarno Ruusuvuori, Heikki and Kaija Siren, Viljo Rewell, Keijo Petäjä and many others. The book was published in 1966: during the climax of modern Finnish architecture and design.
Richards’s reading of Finnish architecture has an air of romanticism and admiration. Finland is perceived as the mythical other: “only on the fringe of the civilized world”. Yet, according to Richards, its architecture has made a unique contribution to architectural history.
How is it that a small, geographically remote nation, with limited resources and a relatively brief cultural history, has managed to become, in this field, one of the leading nations of the world, to which the architects of other nations look up and make respectful pilgrimage?
— J. M. Richards, A Guide to Finnish Architecture, p.84
James Maude Richards (1907–1992) was a great connoisseur of Finnish architecture and one of the most influential authors to disseminate knowledge of architecture and culture in Finland. As the editor of The Architectural Review between 1937 and 1971, Richards’s style of writing is uncomplicated yet elegant, and his understanding of Finland is deep and comprehensive.
This book is highly recommended reading especially for students and researches interested in the historiography of modernism and the construction of national identity in architecture. The item for sale is in nice condition for its age. The dust cover has some tears, but the pages are all clean and none of them is missing. The binding has split in half at pages 30-31. There is an inscription on the flyleaf.