Architecture and Automobiles

by Philip Jodidio

“Factors such as high gasoline prices or the fear of pollution have taken their toll on the euphoric dreams of the Futurists and even the road culture of America, but there is in the movement of the automobile, and the great attention often paid to its design, a constant and renewed link to the form and function of contemporary architecture.”

You may park your car under a tree (tsk, tsk) but it wasn’t built under one. Nor sold or serviced. The car—and also trains, ships, planes, and soon passenger-carrying rockets—requires buildings and other structures specific to its purpose and requirements.

Look at the cover image. To car people, what’s in the Porsche Museum may well be more interesting than the building that showcases the artifacts—but that would mean missing a lot. Unless your powers of observation have failed you, one look, even without a proper sense of scale, ought to tell even the uninitiated that a big building like that shouldn’t be canted and floating like that. How’d they do that?? This book is more concerned with why’d they do it.

Whether it’s a car wash or a burger joint, the Ferrari Research Center or the Rolls-Royce “factory,” car museums, F1 tracks or breathtakingly beautiful bridges or even highway sound barriers, this book looks at all sorts of different manifestations of the relationship between cars and architecture. Philip Jodidio is an art historian and economist by trade and edited a leading French art journal, Connaissance des Arts, for more than two decades. He has published numerous articles and dozens of books and edited TASCHEN’s Architecture Now series. He has a lot more to say than he does here; a short Introduction, cleverly entitled “Enriched by the Beauty of Speed,” is really the only interpretative commentary he offers. Everything else is descriptive, the language, graphic devices, and conventions being geared towards the architectural reader.

But even so, the car-centric reader too will find plenty to occupy the mind and add layers of micro detail to base knowledge already filed away in your grey matter. You may know Fiat’s famous Lingotto Building, finished in 1923, in which car construction began on the ground floor with raw materials and ended five floors and one long, long winding ramp later with a test track on the roof. Now you can add to that the story of the building’s revitalization. If you follow racing you’ll know the Bahrain International Circuit but do you know that its master plan includes a car manufacturing plant and a university? Lots to discover here in 38 examples from different corners of the globe that Jodidio calls a mere tip of the iceberg. There are, for instances, many examples of architects who designed cars but only one, Zaha Hadid who did the Bahrain Circuit, is presented here in both genres.

Each venue is covered on 4–8 pages with many photos, drawings, and technical illustrations. The book is in landscape format and all around nicely thought out and presented.


Copyright 2013, Charly Baumann (

Architecture and Automobiles
by Philip Jodidio
Images Publishing, 2011    [In US: ACC Distribution]
228 pages, 600 color illustrations, hardcover
List Price: $60/£35
ISBN-13: 978-1864703306

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