Must-Have Architecture Books

Here we present the list of 10 must have architecture books.

1. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order (Francis D.K. Ching; 1975)

This book is classic introduction to the principles of architecture. It helps both students and practicing architects understand the basic vocabulary of architectural design by examining how form and space are ordered in the built environment.

2. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Christopher Alexander, Murray Silverstein, Sara Ishikawa; 1977)

The book creates a new language, what the authors call a pattern language derived from timeless entities called patterns. All 253 patterns together form a language. “Patterns“, the units of this language, are answers to design problems. This book will enable a person to make a design for almost any kind of building, or any part of the built environment.

3. The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects (Lewis Mumford; 1961)

The book shows how the urban form has changed throughout human civilization. It is an evaluation of city growth, how it came to be, and where it is heading, as evidenced by the final chapter Retrospect and Prospect.

4. SMLXL (Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Mau and Hans Werlemann; 1995 )

S,M,L,XL is a collection of essays, diary excerpts, travelogues, photographs, architectural plans, sketches, cartoons produced by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.).

5. Yes Is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution (Bjarke Ingles; 2009)

Yes is More is a manifesto of architecture as seen by the Copenhagen-based group BIG, told in comic book form, unlike a classic architectural monograph.

6. Building Construction Illustrated (Francis D.K. Ching; 1975)

Clearly presents all of the basic concepts underlying building construction. The book moves through each of the key stages of the design process, from site selection to building components, mechanical systems, and finishes.

7. The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Jane Jacobs, 1961)

The book is a critique of 20th century urban planning policy, which it says was responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. It provides an essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.

8. The Four Books of Architecture (Andrea Palladio; 1570)

The most successful architectural treatise of the Renaissance and one of the two or three most important books in the literature of architecture. First published in Italian in 1570, it has been translated into every major Western language.

9. Neufert Architects’ Data (Ernst Neufert; 1936)

The book provides, in one concise volume, the core information needed to form the framework for the more detailed design and planning of any building project.

10. The Ten Books on Architecture (Vitruvius Pollio; 15 BC)

The Ten Books on Architecture outlines building methods for everything from aqueducts and temples, to decorative plasterwork. Written in the first century BC, and dedicated to emperor Caesar Augustus, it is the only complete document of its kind.

11. Delirious New York, Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (Rem Koolhaas; 1978)

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.

12. The Timeless Way of Building (Christopher Alexander; 1979)

The book proposes a new theory of architecture (and design in general) that relies on the understanding and configuration of design patterns.


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