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Jun 04, 2024

The Best Architecture Books to Help You Design, Create, and Build Success

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If you are studying architecture at university or you are already a seasoned professional, you might be looking for your next architectural read. To help you find the best books for you we have collated a list of some of the best architecture books out there and broken them down into three categories - architecture theory, architecture fundamentals, and architecture history.

What is Architecture?

before we get started, let's take a look at exactly what architecture is for those of you who are new to the subject. Put simply, architecture is the art of designing and building. Throughout human history, ever since the first mud huts were created, humans have been practicing and perfecting the art of architecture. No matter how big or small a building is, the architects behind its design go through a series of steps to ensure that the final structure is altogether safe, fit for purpose, and pleasing to look at. Every construction project from the Grand Pyramids at Giza to your local chip shop has employed the art of architecture to ensure they are both suitable for their purpose and they won’t collapse.

Why Study Architecture?

If you like solving problems, travelling the world, and generally like to get creative, then architecture could be the profession for you. The study of architecture can help you unlock your full potential, creating the opportunity to travel the world and find inspiration from some of the world’s most iconic buildings. The study will also allow you to have your creative input heard on structures that will be around for hundreds, or even thousands of years. And as long as the human race continues to build things then there will always be a need for architects, so it's likely there will always be jobs out there.

List of the Best Books

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the architecture books that you should read.

Architecture Theory

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

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Author: Christopher Alexander
Year First Published: 1977

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction focuses on the philosophy that at the heart of every building, town, and city is a language, a language of shapes, curves, and textures. A Pattern Language revleales and decrypts this hidden language giving examples of how it is used in structural design around the world. If you are looking to enhance your architectural knowledge and understand how to interpret architectural design better, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is the architecture book for you.

Experiencing Architecture

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Author: Steen Eiler Rasmussen
Year First Published: 1959

Making full use of an array of stunning examples of architectural experimentation, Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen portrays the intellectual excitement that architectural achievement can provoke. From a teacup sculpture to the Peking Winter Palace, Rasmussen covers a variety of architectural phenomena from across the globe. If you want to experience the true potential of multicultural architecture, this is the book for you.

The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses

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Author: Juhani Pallasmaa
Year First Published: 1996

Originally published in 1996 The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses by Juhani Pallasmaa defines the role of the body and the senses in architectural philosophy and architectural teachings. The Eyes of the Skin consists of two essays, the first recounts the development of ocular-centric paradigm in Western culture; and the second looks at how architectural design has been influenced by all of the human senses over the years from touch to sight to sound.

The Timeless Way of Building

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Author: Christopher W. Alexander
Year First Published: 1978

In his book The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher W. Alexander delivers a new theory of Architecture, one that, at its heart, is guided by mankind's principles of building a world that is based on the human being. The Timeless Way of Building acts as an introduction to some of Christopher W. Alexander's other works such as A Pattern of Language and The Oregon Experiment.

Architecture: Form, Space, and Order

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Author: Frank Ching
Year First Published: 2007

For over thirty years, Frank Ching’s Architecture: Form, Space, and Order has been used as a milestone to help students and practicing architects alike fully understand the basic vocabulary of architectural design. Beautifully illustrated with Frank Ching’s trademark drawings, Architecture: Form, Space, and Order shows the relationship between architectural design across different cultures and encourages you to think critically about the architecture around you.

If you've finished reading any of the architecture books on this list, why not sell them and earn a little extra cash for your next architectural deep dive?

Architecture Fundamentals

Building Construction Illustrated

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Author: Frank D. K. Ching
Year First Published: 2014

Building Construction Illustrated by Frank D. K. Ching is a highly detailed and well-designed guide through some of the state-of-the-art building techniques currently used today. Using accurate illustration Frank D. K. Ching is able to provide a leading visual guide on the principles of building construction.

Universal Principles of Design

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Author: William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler
Year First Published: 2010

In any endeavour to create something anew, architects must scramble to find the methods and knowledge from across multiple disciplines to succeed. However, no longer must the search for essential information be a battle, Universal Principles of Design is a cross-disciplinary reference to design that brings all the information you could need for starting a new design project together in one place.

The Works: Anatomy of the City

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Author: Kate Ascher
Year First Published: 2005

The Works: Anatomy of the City is an architectural book that delivers a detailed breakdown of the mechanisms, structures, and planning that support New York City. Filled with detailed illustrations paired with digestible explanations, The Works: Anatomy of the City will help you achieve a full understanding of just how one of the world’s greatest cities continues to operate.

Architects' Data

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Author: Ernst Neufert
Year First Published: 1970

Architects' Data is an essential reference tool for the initial design and planning of any new building. In this book, Ernst Neufert offers a comprehensive guide to planning a new design from the very start. Organised largely by building type, the book contains thousands of diagrams and illustrations that offer insights into plans, sections, site layouts, and design details for a whole host of building types.

Architecture History

A World History of Architecture

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Author: Michael Fazio, Marian Moffett, Lawrence Wodehouse
Year First Published: 2003

A Word History of Architecture is a survey of the most significant examples of architecture from all over the world. A World History of Architecture by authors Michael Fazio, Marian Moffett, and Lawrence Wodehouse, examines a diverse range of architecture with insightful discussions focussing on the pragmatic, innovative, and aesthetic attributes of such buildings.

The Four Books on Architecture

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Author: Andrea Palladio
Year First Published: 1570

Written by one of the most well-known and influential architects of the Renaissance period, The Four Books on Architecture is a detailed insight into the works of Andrea Palladia. The Four Books on Architecture is comprised of, yeah you guessed it, 4 books, each focussing on a different area of architecture including building materials and techniques, private houses and mansions; streets, bridges, piazzas, and basilicas, and finally Palladio’s reconstructed designs of the Roman architecture that inspire his works.

Modern Architecture – A Critical History

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Author: Kenneth Frampton
Year First Published: 1980

First published back in 1980, this edition of Modern Architecture – A Critical History by Kenneth Frampton is a bibliography that reveals the architectural stories of Finland, France, Spain, and Japan where individual talent and enlightened patronage have created a comprehensive and convincing architectural culture.

Architect and Engineer: A Study in Sibling Rivalry

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Author: Andrew Saint
Year First Published: 2008

Long has the connection between architects and engineers been the subject of debate, but rarely is the historical relationship between these two professions examined. Architect and Engineer dives into some of the most recognisable instances where architecture and engineering have interlocked like in the building of Waterloo Bridge and the evolution of the towering Chicago Skyscraper.

Life in the English Country House

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Author: Mark Girouard
Year First Published: 1978

Originally published back in 1978, Life in the English Country House offers one of the most accurately detailed illustrations of life in an English country house from the Middle Ages up to the twentieth century. Described in The New Yorker as “Informative, balanced, knowledgeable, and witty”, Mark Girouard, the author and renowned architectural historian, delivers a revealing glimpse into the lives of and homes of the English upper classes.

Whether you are studying architecture and looking to get ahead of the game, a trained professional wanting to refresh your knowledge, or you simply have an interest in the design process that goes into the buildings around you, these books won't disappoint you.

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