Engineering blog
03 Sep 2019

Books Every Architect Should Read

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Busy schedules and increasing entertainment platforms mean less time for books – but setting aside even a few minutes a week to read one or more of these volumes could expand your horizons and offer unexpected insights.

Whether you are a seasoned architect or a student whose veins contain more coffee than blood, these books will be invaluable additions to your home library.

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built – Stewart Brand (1994)

“Age is so valued that in America it is far more often fake than real. In a pub-style bar and restaurant you find British antique oak wall paneling – perfectly replicated in high-density polyurethane…. But Europe has its own versions of fakery, now themselves respectable with age – the picturesque ersatz ruins of 18th-century landscape gardening, 19th-century buildings pretending to be medieval, neoclassical columns always bone-white instead of wearing the original Greek and Roman bright colors.”


It’s about time somebody wrote this book. This quirky, thoughtful volume, bursting with curiosity and intelligence, may make our everyday world more visible to more Americans. Architecture is too important to be left to architects alone. – Mixed Media

Toward an Architecture – Le Corbusier (1923)

“The “styles” are a lie. Style is a unity of principle that animates all the works of an era and results from a distinctive state of mind.

Our era fixes its style every day.

Our eyes, unfortunately, are not yet able to discern it.”


If modern architecture has a bible, it is Vers une Architecture. – Dwell

The Architecture of Happiness – Alain de Botton (2006)

“Yet a concern for architecture has never been free from a degree of suspicion. Doubts have been raised about the subject’s seriousness, its moral worth and its cost. A thought-provoking number of the world’s most intelligent people have disdained any interest in decoration and design, equating contentment with discarnate and invisible matters instead.”


An elegant book…. Unusual … full of big ideas…. Seldom has there been a more sensitive marriage of words and images. – The New York Sun

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School – Matthew Frederick (2007)

“The nebulousness of architectural instruction is largely necessary. Architecture is, after all, a creative field…. The resulting open-endedness provides students a ride down many fascinating new avenues, but often with a feeling that architecture is built on quicksand rather than on solid earth.”


The winner of a host of prizes, this delicately laid-out book advises students how to approach a number of design principles. Including advice on everything from ‘how to draw a line’ to ‘how to sketch a one-point perspective of a rectangular interior space’, this is a must-have for anyone starting out in the field. – Will Coldwell, The Independent

Twenty-Five Buildings Every Architect Should Understand – Simon Unwin (2015)

“There is no one right way to do anything in architecture. It is not possible to write instructions (formulae, rules) for how to do architecture without restricting its possibilities, any more than it is possible to write instructions for what to say without constraining the possibilities of language.”


Simon Unwin’s new case studies stretch his original analytical agenda beyond its more conventional architectural history and theory parameters: it broadens the topic to open up themes and concerns very immediate to current architectural debate. A must-have for all teachers of architecture and their students. – Claude Saint-Arroman, Goldsmiths University

Architecture and Disjunction – Bernard Tschumi (1996)

“Most people concerned with architecture feel some sort of disillusion and dismay. None of the early utopian ideals of the twentieth century has materialized, none of its social aims has succeeded. Blurred by reality, the ideals have turned into redevelopment nightmares and the aims into bureaucratic policies.”

Matter: Material Processes in Architectural Production – Gail Peter Borden & Michael Meredith (2012)

“What does it really mean to say that we operate within mutually interdependent networks of matter? Would we not see innovation today as fundamentally manipulative rather than extractive and/or constructive: that it is about deploying altering sequences within existing relationships?”


During the past decade a shift occurred that meant that students were often building things rather than modeling them. The first generation that took on that role have set up practices that retroactively begin to re-define education. Michael Meredith and Gail Borden have assembled many of this generation’s work and give coherence to this still emerging context. – Michael Bell, Columbia University

Thinking Architecture – Peter Zumthor (1998)

“The sense that I try to instill into materials is beyond all rules of composition, and their tangibility, smell, and acoustic qualities are merely elements of the language that we are obliged to use. Sense emerges when I succeed in bringing out the specific meanings of certain materials in my buildings, meanings that can only be perceived in just this way in one building.”

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CAD Evangelist. "Books Every Architect Should Read" CAD Evangelist, Sep. 03, 2019,

CAD Evangelist. (2019, September 03). Books Every Architect Should Read. Retrieved from

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