Sex and Buildings


The most recent book, published in 2013 by the excellent Reaktion Books. It got lots of press, and in fact still does: Architectural Digest India are the latest to cover it, in early 2015.

Here’s more about the book, taken from Reaktion’s website:

‘the necessary part on tall towers is a mere sliver in a study that makes a very thorough fist of exploring twentieth-century connections between sex and buildings. From psychologists to modernists, communards, hippy free-thinkers, novelists, and film-makers, there’s a big cast, plus queer-space makers, hotel designers, feminists and – of course – architects.’ – Architecture Today

Massive modern skyscrapers, obelisks, towers – all are structures that, thanks to their phallic shape, are often associated with sex. But other buildings are more subtly connected, as they provide the frameworks for our sexual lives and act as reminders of our sexual memories and fantasies. This relationship between sex and buildings mattered more than ever in the United States and Europe during the turbulent twentieth century, when a culture of unprecedented sexual frankness and tolerance emerged and came to dominate many aspects of public life.

Part architectural history, part cultural history and part travelogue, Sex and Buildings explores how progressive sexual attitudes manifest themselves in architecture, asking what progressive sexuality might look like architecturally and the successes and failures of buildings to reflect it. In search of structures that reflect the sexual mores of their inhabitants, Richard J. Williams visits modernist buildings in Southern California, the Playboy Mansion, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, communes from the 1960s, and more.

A thought-provoking and often entertaining look at a period of extraordinary social change coupled with aesthetic invention, Sex and Buildings will change the way we view the buildings around us.

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