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10 Essential Books For Architecture Enthusiasts

The field of architecture is vast. It not only covers building design but also several other fields like landscape design, interior design, furniture design, lighting, urban design, etc. seamlessly blending with one another. It's a myriad of information that sometimes gets overwhelming to process. 

Luckily for us students, there are several books and sources to avail this information from. Some of these also give us a glimpse of the personal opinions and beliefs of the author, justifying their practices and ways of design.

Essential Books To Be Read By Every Architecture Student

There are some books that are considered to be so iconic and informative, they are even used as handbooks in some schools and universities. Here is a list of 10 such books:

  1. The architecture of Happiness by Alain De Botton
  2. Image of the City by Kevin Lynch
  3. Form, Space, and Order by Francis DK Ching
  4. Yes is More by Bjarke Ingels
  5. Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
  6. Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier
  7. De Architectura by Vitruvius
  8. The Language of Post-Modern Architecture by Charles Jencks
  9. S, M, L, XL By Rem Koolhas
  10. Complexity And Contradiction Robert venturi

1) Architecture of Happiness By Alain de Botton

Architecture of happiness By Alain de Botton
The architecture of happiness By Alain de Botton

In his book "Architecture of happiness", de Botton explores the relationship between architecture and happiness. He set out to prove that the design and aesthetics of our projects have a major impact on our mental well-being and sense of fulfillment.

What's In The Book?

  • Emotional Aspect Of Beautiful Architecture

It is equally important to consider the emotional aspect of our designs rather than just functional and aesthetic ones.  De Botton believed that architecture had the power to evoke feelings of comfort, security, and happiness, or it can make us feel stressed, anxious, and disconnected.

  • Contextual Design

The book also discusses the importance of considering the social and cultural context of architecture. De Botton highlights the impact that architecture can have on community life and the way it shapes our relationships with others.

Different architectural styles can reflect the values and aspirations of a particular cultural or historical moment. For example, the Renaissance palace reflected the values of the Renaissance period, such as humanism, classical learning, and grandeur.

2) Image of the city By Kevin Lynch

Image of the city By Kevin Lynch
Image of the city By Kevin Lynch

The "Image of the city" is an important book for urban designers especially, it is often used as a handbook. The book explores the role of urban design in shaping a city's image and identity. 

What's In The Book?

The way a city is designed affects the way its inhabitant's experience and understand it. Lynch identified five key elements of an urban environment:

  • Paths: The physical connections and routes that exist between different parts of the city, including sidewalks, roads, and public transportation.
  • Edges: The physical boundaries that define the limits of the city, such as rivers, hills, and freeways.
  • Districts: Large areas within the city that have a distinct character and function, such as residential neighborhoods, commercial areas, and industrial zones.
  • Nodes: Central points within the city that function as gathering places, such as public squares, parks, and transportation hubs.
  • Landmarks: Significant physical features or structures that serve as reference points within the city, such as skyscrapers, monuments, and unique buildings. 

3) Form space and order By Francis DK Ching

Form space and order By Francis DK Ching
Form space and order By Francis DK Ching

This book is another important handbook for architecture students which is even used in architecture colleges and schools. "Form, Space and Order" by Francis DK Ching is a comprehensive guide to architectural design and form-making.

What's In The Book?

The book focuses on the creation of form in architecture through an understanding of the elements and principles of design, the organization of space, and the design process with illustrations.

  • The elements of design: line, mass, volume, light and shadow, color, and texture
  • The principles of design: hierarchy, balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, and unity
  • The organization of space: rooms, circulation, and open spaces
  • Design and detailing: materials, construction methods, and detailing techniques
  • The design process: from conceptualization to realization

4) Yes is more By Bjarke Ingels

Yes is more By Bjarke Ingels
Yes is more By Bjarke Ingels

"Yes is more" is a visual journey through the creative mind of Bjarke Ingels and his team, offering readers a glimpse into their innovative designs and the thought processes behind them. 

What's In The Book?

The book uses a combination of illustrations, graphics, and captions to explore BIG's innovative approach to architecture and how they balance sustainability and functionality in their designs.

"Yes is More" is an exploration of the innovative designs and philosophies of BIG, and a manifesto for a more sustainable and positive approach to architecture and design. The book offers readers a unique perspective on the intersection of architecture, sustainability, and innovation, and is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of architecture and design.

5) Pattern language By Christopher Alexander

Pattern language By Christopher Alexander
Pattern language By Christopher Alexander

"A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction" is a book written by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein, and published in 1977. 

What's In The Book?

The book presents a pattern language as a method for creating and designing architecture and urban design. 

  • It consists of 253 patterns that describe architectural and urban design solutions for a wide range of problems, such as the design of individual buildings, streets, and neighborhoods.
  • Each pattern consists of a problem statement, a solution, and an explanation of the solution's context and use. 
  • The patterns are organized into a hierarchy, with more general patterns at the top and more specific patterns at the bottom, and can be combined to create complex designs.

6) Towards A New Architecture By Le Corbusier

Towards A New Architecture By Le Corbusier
Towards A New Architecture By Le Corbusier

"Towards an Architecture" is a book written by Swiss architect Le Corbusier in 1923. In it, he sets out his vision for the future of architecture and urban design. 

What's In The Book?

The book is a collection of essays and addresses various topics such as: 

  • The principles of architecture
  • The role of the architect
  • The relationship between architecture and the modern world.

Le Corbusier argues that architecture should be functional, efficient, and affordable. He proposes the use of standardized elements, such as concrete and steel, to create buildings that are mass-produced and can be built quickly and cheaply. He also advocates for the use of machine aesthetics in architecture, drawing on the forms and materials used in the industrial world.

7) De Architectura By Vitruvius

De Architectura By Vitruvius
De Architectura By Vitruvius

De Architectura, written by the Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius Pollio, is a treatise on architecture, dedicated to Emperor Augustus. It is actually a series, written in ten books, that provides a comprehensive overview of architecture and engineering during the Roman Empire. 

What's In The Book?

It covers various topics including town planning, temple design, and construction materials and techniques.

  • Book 1 focuses on the role of the architect, the qualities required for the job, and the duties of an architect
  • Books 2 through 7 describe the design and construction of various building types, including private houses, public buildings, harbors, and theaters
  • Book 8 deals with the study of proportion and symmetry in architecture, as well as the geometry used in construction. 
  • Book 9 is about mechanical devices and machines used in construction, such as cranes, hoists, and winches
  • Book 10 provides a history of architecture, including the evolution of the Greek and Roman architectural styles.

8) The Language Of Postmodern Architecture By Charles Jencks

The Language Of Postmodern Architecture By Charles Jencks
The Language Of Postmodern Architecture By Charles Jencks

"The Language of Post-Modern Architecture" by Charles Jencks is a book that explores the evolution of architecture in the 20th century, with a focus on the rise of postmodernism as a dominant architectural style. 

What's In The Book?

  • The book provides an overview of key architectural movements and styles, including modernism and high-tech architecture
  • It discusses the cultural, social, and historical context in which they emerged. 
  • The book also features an in-depth analysis of the architectural language and visual vocabulary of postmodernism, including the use of historical references, symbolic forms, and decorative elements. 
  • The book concludes with a discussion of the impact of postmodernism on the built environment and the future of architecture. 

Throughout the book, Jencks provides examples of notable postmodern buildings and architects, illuminating the ideas and motivations behind their work.

9) S, M, L, XL By Rem Koolhas

S, M, L, XL By Rem Koolhas
S, M, L, XL By Rem Koolhas

"S, M, L, XL" is a landmark architectural theory book by Rem Koolhaas, first published in 1995. The book presents a compilation of essays, interviews, and architectural projects from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), which was co-founded by Koolhaas.

What's In The Book?

The book is organized into five sections: 

  • Content
  • Data
  • Narration
  • Culture
  • Typology

In each section, Koolhaas explores different aspects of architecture, including urbanism, globalization, and the role of the architect.

One of the key themes in "S, M, L, XL" is the relationship between architecture and the contemporary city, and how architecture can respond to the rapidly changing urban landscape. Koolhaas argues that the traditional distinction between architecture and the city is becoming blurred, and that architecture must adapt to this new reality.

Another important theme in the book is the relationship between architecture and technology. 

10) Complexity And Contradiction Robert venturi

Complexity And Contradiction Robert venturi
Complexity And Contradiction Robert venturi

"Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture" is a seminal book written by Robert Venturi, an American architect and architectural theorist. It was first published in 1966 and is widely considered to be one of the most influential architectural theory books of the 20th century.

What's In The Book?

The book argues that modernist architecture, with its emphasis on simplicity, functionality, and universal principles, is limited and fails to capture the richness and complexity of human experience. 

  • Venturi argues that architecture should embrace contradiction and complexity, instead of trying to eliminate it. 
  • He calls for a more inclusive approach that incorporates elements of traditional architecture, popular culture, and advertising, into the design process.

Venturi asserts that architecture should acknowledge and celebrate its dual role as both a form of expression and a means of communication. He challenges architects to design buildings that are not only functional but also symbolic, witty, and enjoyable. 

The book is filled with illustrations and examples from architectural history and popular culture that demonstrate Venturi's ideas.

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