‘This is the complete works from top to bottom.’ For most of the panel this monograph on the work of architect Herman Hertzberger commanded respect. On the basis of a fundamentally optimistic outlook, Hertzberger believes in architecture as a collective discipline. He is regarded as one of the most important designers of schools, a field which he has virtually reinvented all on his own, but he has also built widely for cultural institutions and ministries. Hence this volume, constructed on an appropriate scale and ‘as sharp as the concrete he always uses’.
The panel were unanimous that the photographs of his buildings have been beautifully done. ‘You know in an instant what they’re about – and at last, for a change, there are people in them, the people all those buildings were designed for.’ The result is a book that stands out from the mass of architecture books. The binding is also excellent, thought the panel, in addition to which the paper was exactly the right thickness. ‘It hinges fantastically well and is perfectly tensioned.’ Here, clearly, no one was frightened of using superlatives. The page layout generated a sense of balanced calm. The idea of using two
sorts of paper met with distinct approval for emphasizing the narrative aspect, and the pale grey-green colour was appropriate to Hertzberger’s style, a kind of implicit ode.
‘This is a generously dimensioned book without being ostentatious – it’s stuffed full of content, without going to excess.’ The panel – having found not a few covers quite irritating – also felt the need to say something about the successful and nicely unsubtle cover, where the typography has some fun with the perspective axis. It may be bold, but then Hertzberger’s buildings are bold too.