Four years ago, Edward Hollis produced The Secret Lives of Buildings, a wonderfully erudite romp through some of the world’s most famous, much-altered constructions, from the Parthenon to Notre Dame, via Hagia Sophia and the Alhambra, San Marco, the Wailing and Berlin Walls and even the disastrous Hulme crescents of Manchester’s postwar redevelopment. En route, he was able to address the central issue that has perennially divided conservationists: should we shore up battered buildings with their layers of history intact or should we return them creatively to what we suppose them to have been at some chosen moment in their chequered histories? With this question at the book’s heart and a whole world of examples to choose from, an author of Hollis’s calibre could hardly go wrong.
He has, perhaps, created something of a problem for himself with his second book, The Memory Palace, since, if you have been prodigal with deconstructing your palaces first time round, you may end up with mainly shards and rubble with which to continue your thesis. The theme of Secret Lives