John Archer is an experienced author who specializes on the history of architecture. He holds a PHD in Art History from Harvard University. In addition, he holds Masters in Art History from Harvard University. He has written many books in architecture such as The Place We Love to Hate: The Critics Confront Suburbia, Architecture and Suburbia: From English Villa to American Dream House, 1690-2000 and The Literature of British Domestic Architecture, 1715-1842. His main areas of specialties are American dream and suburbia and urban space, place and history. He also specializes in the architecture and landscape of Britain and America during the 18th and 19th century. In 2005, he published Architecture and Suburbia: From English Villa to American Dream House, 1690-2000. This book concentrates on exploring the history of suburbia from the late seventeenth century.
John Archer's Architecture and Suburbia had several strengths. It covers a history of British and American suburban for a period of about 300 years. It makes it easy for a reader to follow closely how the architecture of both British and American suburbia changed within this period. In the first chapters of this book, Archer explains how London developed in the early 18th century. As the book progresses, Archer explains how in the late 19th United States architects copied the architecture of English houses. In addition, he supports his study with findings of other researchers on covering the rise of American suburbia. He quoted the work done by Bennett M Berger on his book Working Class Suburb and The Lonely Crowd by David Reisman. By referencing other studies, he ensured that all his findings about Suburban architecture on both America and Britain were accurate. Archer was also able to show the diversity that was present in the culture and architecture of the suburbs in North America. He showed how the suburbs consisted of both the wealthy and poor class. In addition, they contained gay and heterosexual couples and the interaction of the diverse people and culture helped to build the modern American dream houses.
John Archer's Architecture and Suburbia had several weaknesses. He failed to point clearly the distinction between Garden Suburb Movement and the Garden City Movement that occurred in United Kingdom. Ebenezer Howard proposed Garden City Movement in his book To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform. It mainly aimed at solving the problem of pollution and overcrowding that was prevalent in England during the industrial revolution.
Howard proposed a plan of building towns that were small in size and with limited population density. He also proposed that a belt containing land that was not developed surround these new towns. The plan proposed by Howard was later adopted by American architectures in building the city of Radban. In contrast, the garden suburbs were proposed to be built on the outskirts of London. These suburbs were to form the housing of the employees who worked in the Garden Cities. It was therefore critical for these suburbs to have quality transport to ensure that workers were transported to the city industries on time. Humberstone Garden Suburb is an example of such suburb. John Archer failed to bring these differences clearly.
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To conclude, John Archer's Architecture and Suburbia contributed a lot to the knowledge on the history of suburbs architecture. This book has strengths because it showed how the history of suburbs architecture changed over 300 years. In addition, it cited information from other authors studying American suburbs for example Bennett M Berger and David Reisman. However, it had a weakness as it failed to explain the difference between Garden Suburb Movement and Garden City Movement.
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