The brief: take an 80,000-word treatise on architectural theory that is supported by 270 images and 600 notes, and put the whole thing into a compact book. The result: Without and Within by Canadian Mark Pimlott, lecturer at the University of Technology, Delft.
To start with the dubious aspect of this book – the main text: fifty lines to a column is really too many. If this book is a page-turner, it is entirely down to what Pimlott has to say.
But then. The notes are scattered about loosely in the scanning column alongside the main text, separated from each other by at least one blank line. In other words, each note is surrounded by white space. It is a minor device that has major consequences: even full pages retain a degree of airiness.
The pictures are rich in detail and diverse in origin. Their reproduction within the constraints of the efficient 17 x 24 cm format is about as good as it gets, thanks also to some good preliminary work by the lithographer and careful duotone printing.
The content is undeniably adventurous. Pimlott seeks the roots of the way our shopping centres, airports and museums are laid out in how the American colonists appropriated and demarcated their new country. The book’s images reflect this panoramic view, so it was not surprising that one panel member should comment that there was something mysterious about the book. For an academic essay this is all the greater a compliment.