FOR most of us, buildings are functional. We live, work and store things in them. They are as much a part of us as the nest is a part of a community of termites.
Were this all there was to say about buildings, architectural historian Barnabas Calder might have found his book easier to write. He is asking “how humanity’s access to energy has shaped the world’s buildings through history”.
Had his account remained so straightforward, we might have ended up with an eye-opening mathematical description of the increased energy available (derived from wood, charcoal and straw, then from coal and then from oil) and how it transformed and now, through global warming, threatens our civilisation.
But, of course, buildings are also aspirational acts of creative expression. However debased it…