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Book Review: Traditional Construction Patterns (Stephen Mouzon)

Although the author, Stephen Mouzon, would doubtless not be happy to hear it, “Traditional Construction Patterns” is best viewed as supplement/complement to Marianne Cusato’s “Get Your House Right.” But I do recommend the book, if only because it is one of the few books on the market (though it is quite expensive) that covers this material. If you are planning on building a house based on traditional architecture, you should definitely get this book and focus on it. If you are just interested in the topic, you should stick to Cusato.

The best part of this book is the chapter titled “Lexicon.” This provides clear, detailed pictures of all relevant elements of traditional construction patterns. For example: “(Arch) Roman.” “(Arch) Springform.” “(Arch) Impost.” And so on. While not every possible element is detailed, all the basic ones are, which really helps the reader as a resource to turn back to when uncertain.

The rest of the book covers much the same ground as Cusato, but more briefly. Nothing wrong with this, but if you read this first, then Cusato’s, you’ll get a lot less out of it than if you do the reverse. If you like strong opinions, as I do, you’ll like Mouzon’s text explanations, most of which are organized around “Do’s” and “Don’ts” with respect to specific construction elements.

The biggest single problem with the book, as others have noted, is the pictures used to illustrate the Do’s and Don’ts. They are numerous, but they are all tiny and black-and-white. As a result, frequently it is hard to precisely make out what is being pointed out as wrong or right in the picture. Moreover, the captions for each picture are brief and cryptic, and frequently don’t illuminate what to look for, which exacerbates the problem. For this reason alone, I could not recommend this book as a standalone text.

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Published in Architecture & Building Book Reviews Charles Practical Skills


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