Best Architecture Book Recommendations from Influential Architects – Part 3

During my studies I wrote an article entitled List of Top 10 Architecture Books for Student Architects.” The books were selected because they inspired creativity, innovation and invention.

The following Architecture book recommendations are from Architects who have inspired their peers and generations of students to follow.

This is part two in a three part series where I have asked influential Architects to share the books that have inspired them. For recommendations from Daniel LibeskindBernard TschumiBen Van Berkel (UN Studio)Ricardo Scofidio (DS+R) and Michael Sorkin you can checkout part 1 here. For recommendations from Alex Mustonen (Snarkitecture)Steven HollMaya LinGreg LynnRichard Meier and Denise Scott Brown you can checkout part 2 here

The following architecture books are a must-have for every Architect, student Architect and Architect enthusiast.

1. Best architecture book recommendations from Marco Casagrande:

1. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart-of-Darkness-Joseph-ConradDark allegory describes the narrator’s journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad’s finest, most enigmatic story.

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2. Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Roadside-Picnic-Arkady-StrugatskyRed Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the place and the thriving black market in the alien products. But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick up a “full empty,” something goes wrong. And the news he gets from his girlfriend upon his return makes it inevitable that he’ll keep going back to the Zone, again and again, until he finds the answer to all his problems. First published in 1972, Roadside Picnic is still widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction novels, despite the fact that it has been out of print in the United States for almost thirty years. This authoritative new translation corrects many errors and omissions and has been supplemented with a foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin and a new afterword by Boris Strugatsky explaining the strange history of the novel’s publication in Russia.

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3. The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

The-Tao-Te-Ching-of-Lao-Tzu-by-Lao-TzuThe Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu is one of the most widely read and deeply cherished books in the world, a work many consider the wisest book ever written. In his introduction, translator Brian Browne Walker says, “It is less a book than a living, breathing angel.” In his new translation, Walker stays close to the direct literal accuracy of the Chinese characters while producing a modern, exceptionally clear version that has the ring and voice of Lao Tzu, a man who may or may not have been a single individual. “I have come to think of Lao Tzu less as a man who once lived,” Walker writes, “and more as a song that plays, eternal and abiding.”

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2. Best architecture book recommendations from Anders Berensson and Ulf Mejergren (Vision Division):

1. Architecture without Architects by Bernard Rudofsky

Architecture-Without-Architects--A-Short-Introduction-to-Non-Pedigreed-Architecture-Bernard-RudofskyIn this book, Bernard Rudofsky steps outside the narrowly defined discipline that has governed our sense of architectural history and discusses the art of building as a universal phenomenon. He introduces the reader to communal architecture–architecture produced not by specialists but by the spontaneous and continuing activity of a whole people with a common heritage, acting within a community experience. Indeed, Rudofsky sees the philosophy and practical knowledge of the untutored builders as untapped sources of inspiration for industrial man trapped in his chaotic cities.

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2. A History of Architecture by Spiro Kostof

A-History-of-Architecture-Spiro-Kostof-Spiro Kostof’s groundbreaking work, A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals, helped to reshape the study of architectural history. His book extended beyond the discussion of great monuments to find connections with ordinary dwellings, urbanism, and different cultures from around the world.When the late Spiro Kostof’s A History of Architecture appeared in 1985, it was universally hailed as a masterpiece. Insightful, engagingly written and graced with close to a thousand superb illustrations, the book offers a sweeping narrative that examines architecture as it reflects the social, economic, and technological aspects of human history.

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3. Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas

Delirious-New-York-Rem-KoolhaasSince its original publication in 1978, Delirious New York has attained mythic status. This influential cultural, architectural, and social history of New York is even more popular, selling out its first printing on publication. Rem Koolhaas’s celebration and analysis of New York depicts the city as a metaphor for the incredible variety of human behavior. At the end of the nineteenth century, population, information, and technology explosions made Manhattan a laboratory for the invention and testing of a metropolitan lifestyle — “the culture of congestion” — and its architecture.

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3. Best architecture book recommendations from Gerard Reinmuth (Terroir):

1. Spatial Intelligence by Leon Van Schaik

Spatial-Intelligence-Leon-Van-SchaikThe book is organised into three distinct sections that in turn highlight the significance of spatial intelligence for architecture: the first section provides an overview of spatial intelligence as a human capability; the second section argues how the acknowledgement of this capability in architectural education and the profession should enable the demystification of the practice of design, forming the basis of a more democratic interface between society and practice; the final section explores exciting new opportunities for practice in the linking of real and virtual environments in the information age.

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2. Ten Canonical Buildings by Peter Eisenman

Ten-Canonical-Buildings-Peter-EiswnmanPeter Eisenman, renowned for his own controversial and influential body of work, looks at ten leading architects of the twentieth century and their theoretical positions, technological innovations, and design contributions. Eisenman identifies a project within the oeuvre of each of these architects—Luigi Moretti, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, James Stirling, Aldo Rossi, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry—that has profoundly affected architectural discourse and practice. With drawings, diagrams, and always-incisive text, he presents each architect’s theoretical position, and then offers detailed critical analysis of the project.

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3. Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects by Rafael Moneo

Theoretical-Anxiety-and-Design-Strategies-in-the-Work-of-Eight-Contemporary-Architects-Rafael-MoneoIn this book, Moneo looks at eight of his contemporaries – all architects of international stature – and discusses the theoretical positions, technical innovations, and design contributions of each. Moneo’s discussion of these eight architects – James Stirling, Robert Venturi, Aldo Rossi, Peter Eisenman, Alvaro Siza, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, and the partnership of Jacques Herzog and Pierre De Meuron – has the colloquial, engaging tone of a series of lectures on modern architecture by a master architect; the reader hears not the dispassionate theorizing of an academic, but Moneo’s own deeply held convictions as he considers the work of his contemporaries.

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4. Best architecture book recommendations from Shigeru Ban:

1. Ryoma Ga Yuku (Pyoma Goes) by Ryotaro Shiba

Ryoma-Ga-Yuku-Ryotaro-ShibaRyoma Ga Yuku is a historical novel about Sakamoto Ryoma, a samurai who was critical in bringing about Japan’s Meiji Restoration, after which values and elements from Western culture were introduced into the country, prompting many changes.

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2. Saka Nu Ue No Kumo (Clouds on the Slope) by Ryotaro Shiba

Saka-Nu-Ue-No-Kumo-Ryotaro-ShibaSaka Nu Ue No Kumo is a novel set in the Meiji period in Japan, focusing on three characters from the city of Matsuyama. Originally published as a series from 1968 to 1972 in eight volumes.

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5. Top architecture book recommendations from Michael Sorkin:

1. Critique of Judgement by Immanuel Kant

Critique-of-Judgment-Immanuel-KantIn the Critique of Judgement, Kant offers a penetrating analysis of our experience of the beautiful and the sublime. He discusses the objectivity of taste, aesthetic disinterestedness, the relation of art and nature, the role of imagination, genius and originality, the limits of representation, and the connection between morality and the aesthetic. He also investigates the validity of our judgements concerning the degree in which nature has a purpose, with respect to the highest interests of reason and enlightenment. The work profoundly influenced the artists, writers, and philosophers of the classical and romantic period, including Hegel, Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. In addition, it has remained a landmark work in fields such as phenomenology, hermeneutics, the Frankfurt School, analytical aesthetics, and contemporary critical theory. Today it remains an essential work of philosophy, and required reading for all with an interest in aesthetics.

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2. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Frankenstein-Mary-Wollstonecraft-ShelleyObsessed by creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life by electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. This chilling gothic tale, begun when Mary Shelley was just nineteen years old, would become the world’s most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity.

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3. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

The-Interpretation-of-Dreams-Sigmund-FreudWhat are the most common dreams and why do we have them? What does a dream about death mean? What do dreams of swimming, failing, or flying symbolize? First published by Sigmund Freud in 1899, The Interpretation of Dreams considers why we dream and what it means in the larger picture of our psychological lives. Delving into theories of manifest and latent dream content, the special language of dreams, dreams as wish fulfillments, the significance of childhood experiences, and much more, Freud, widely considered the father of psychoanalysis, thoroughly and thoughtfully examines dream psychology. Encompassing dozens of case histories and detailed analyses of actual dreams, this landmark text presents Freud’s legendary work as a tool for comprehending our sleeping experiences.

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6. Best architecture book recommendations from Robert Venturi:

1. History Builds the Town by Arthur Korn

History-Builds-the-Town-Arthur-KornThis book was written for a practical purpose: to establish first principles for the planning of our contemporary town. To master the problems of contemporary town planning, it is necessary to understand first what the town is. Therefore, the forces which govern its life – its birth, growth and decline – and determine its structure are examined first. These general laws of growth and structure will then be applied to the formulation of what our contemporary metropolis should be. There has been in history an infinite variety of towns differing in function, structure and components. And it is society, with its economic and political structure, which has produced these various types of towns. This book discusses the fundamentals of a town, the town in ancient society, the medieval town, the town of early capitalism, and the modern town. There’s also a chapter on towns in theory and practice.

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2. The Human Use of the Earth by Philip L. Wagner

The-Human-Use-of-the-Earth-Philip-L.-WagnerThe Human Use of the Earth takes a look at human work transforming ‘nature’ . It talks about economic geography by emphasizing ecological, sociological and technological factors rather than traditional economic order.

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3. Imagining America in 2033: How the Country Put Itself Together after Bush by Herbert J. Gans

Imagining-America-in-2033-Herbert-J.-GansIn the spirit of great utopian writing that dares to hope for a better world, Imagining America in 2033 takes place in a fictional yet achievable future America—a time when progressive, liberal ideals inform politics and citizens alike. At the heart of Herbert J. Gans’s utopian narrative is the vision of progress with fairness on which the best of American idealism has been built. Part utopia, part realism, Imagining America in 2033 is also a liberal’s dream of life after Bush and a set of progressive yet practical guidelines for restoring sanity and intelligence to nearly every aspect of public and political life post-Bush.

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I hope you found great value in this three part series.

Id love to hear your thoughts on the above recommendations. List your own recommendations in the comment section below! 


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