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HOUSES OF GLASS: A Nineteenth-Century Building Type by Georg Kohlmaier and Barna von Saroty (MIT Press: $35).

June 30, 1991|CHARLES SOLOMON

The 19th-Century glass house was the product of an increasingly urban society's desire to maintain contact with nature, albeit nature that had been tamed and domesticated and reduced to a harmless living museum. Recent advances in technology enabled architects and engineers to realize this vision by constructing skeletons of wrought- and cast-iron that could support walls of glass panes; new methods of steam- heating allowed gardeners to sustain the most exotic tropical plants during the fierce northern European winters, creating a miniature Eden amid the snows. This rather technical volume catalogues the often extravagant winter gardens, palm houses, orangeries and conservatories built for private individuals and public parks in pursuit of this illusory Eden.

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