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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Designing the Seaside

Architecture, Society and Nature

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Designing the Seaside

Architecture, Society and Nature

In Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, a seaside resort was the setting for thievery and intrigue. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tap-danced their way to fame at a Brighton resort in The Gay Divorcee. The seaside resort has always held a special fascination, a place of containment and leisure that has a unique form in the physical landscape: towering hotels, shop-lined boardwalks, and sprawling beaches. Fred Gray delves into the history of seaside architecture here in Designing the Seaside, writing the rich and international story of the seaside resort’s diverse structures from the eighteenth century through today.

Gray is interested not only in the physical structures but also the cultural mores they represent—the “yearly holiday,” and our attitudes about leisure. The coastal landscape has been transformed by this geography of relaxation, and Gray considers the physical and cultural shifts that occurred when shops, boardwalks, and hotels buried sand dunes and marshes beneath their beams. He examines the design processes that went into creating the diverse buildings and spaces within a seaside resort, giving full attention to ephemeral structures such as pavilions and summer gift shops as well as the trademark hotel buildings, fairgrounds, and open spaces. Designing the Seaside also reveals how events such as beauty pageants made seaside resorts into sites of debate over conflicted issues of sexuality and morality.

Drawing on a diverse array of historical material—photographs, guidebooks, postcards, and posters—Fred Gray offers a fascinating account of the cultural and social symbolism of the seaside resort and its role in the modern landscape.

400 pages | 406 color plates, 34 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 4/5 | © 2006

Architecture: History of Architecture

Travel and Tourism: Tourism and History

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"Designing the Seaside takes a detailed look at the history and architecture of the seaside resort over three centuries, from genteel first forays with the bathing machine to perceived hotbeds of sexual immorality. The pictures offer a history of their own."

The Independent

"Almost definitive. . . . Sumptuous."

The Times

"The 440 images alone are worth the price. It’s a fascinating, sometimes embarrassing, gallery of how we once saw ourselves, or at least how the British did."

Toni Salama | Chicago Tribune

"Like all good books it is about more than it says on the cover, and combines a number of histories in a readable whole."

Architecture Today

"The plentiful illustrations allow us to follow the weird and wonderful world of seaside fashion through the ages . . . With chapters on everything from bath huts to boardwalks, this really is your one-stop ride to the seaside."

Moira Lascelles | RIBA Journal

"Insightful. . . . A wonderful collection of colourful illustrations from resorts around the world. . . . Neglect of the seaside has been the norm in academic and publishing circles, so Fred Gray’s survey of the worldwide seaside environment is very welcome."

Lynn Pearson | Building Design

"A wonderful assembly of archive material, ephemera, and modern photography."

Gillian Darley | Architects' Journal

"This is a splendid book, solid, substantial, and beautifully illustrated in a variety of idioms, and a delight to read and peruse. . . . Its thematic coverage of building types and aesthetics in cultural context is impeccable, ranging from the promenade to the lido, the grand hotel to the converted railway carriage. . . . This is essentially a work of architectural, design, environmental, and (implicitly) planning history. Attitudes to the natural world, its imagining, depiction, conservation, and exploitation, are rightly central to the author’s concerns. . . . The book has direct value for those who seek to understand contemporary trends in tourism. . . . It should be required reading far beyond its ostensible core constituency among design historians."

John Walton | Annals of Tourism Research

Table of Contents

1.  Nature and Seaside Architecture
2.  Building the Seaside
3.  Representing the Edge
4.  The Seaside as Another Place
5.  Designing Resort Open Spaces
6.  Architecture for Sea and Beach
7.  From Bath House to Water Park
8.  Walking on Water
9.  Pavilions and Amusement Parks
10. Sleeping by the Sea
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements

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