A decade ago Iwan Baan – another architectural photographer with a claim on ‘greatest living’ – published Living With Modernism, a collection of photographs of the modernist capitals Chandigarh and Brasília. Every frame contains a person, or a sign of everyday life, and the volume manages to be both a sly comment on the messy intersection between utopian design and humdrum normality, and a gentle tribute to those extraordinary places and their ordinary inhabitants.
Living With Modernism subverted the idea that modernist architecture is designed to look good in photos, not to be lived with, by making it look good with people living in it. But the people do have a tendency to make themselves the subject. Attempting to square the circle of including people while still focusing on the architecture leads to the off-centre, faceless sylphs that flit through many architectural publicity images, making something out-of-focus in the kitchen, caught on their way out of frame, wearing something backless on a balcony.