three books by john silverio

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John Silverio has one of the most distinctive architectural voices I know. In practice in Lincolnville, Maine, for more than 30 years, he produces work that is rooted in its place and time but also has a timeless and universal quality. He is a remarkably thoughtful guy who thinks a lot about architecture. John and I have been friends for a long time, so I am delighted that he has published three small, fine books that encapsulate the major themes that run through his thought and work.

Hearthspire: Designing Wood-Heated Houses addresses the deceptively subtle matter of making a house around this most elemental heat source. The Book of the Hut considers the basic unit of shelter from historical, cultural, and psychological perspectives, making a case for the hut as both a discrete building type and a basis for larger structures. Radiance Indwellling: Notes and Sketches About Spirit and Architecture is a selection of notes and sketches from a lifetime of observations on form and meaning. Here are a couple:

A house should not be seen as a collection of rooms, side by side, piled up or strung together along dark hallways. The presence of the whole house should be felt from any place inside or out. Was this not the manner of the primal dwelling? Whether teepee or temple, was there not always a center, be it fire or an altar or oculus, and was not the space open and whole?


The modernist cry, "form follows function," was a rejection of the Beaux Arts style-crazed and status-crazed culture. But form, function, and material construction are a trinity not to be divided up and made into a chicken or egg question. Form is inspired and has its source in the spirit. Function is intuited and has its source in society. Material construction is imagined and has its source in nature. The three swirl together to form architecture.

John is a quiet guy with a lot of insight, and he has produced three quietly insightful books. I recommend them highly. --b.d.s.




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