As children across the UK share books, choose new ones using their book trust tokens and dress up as their favourite characters we had a Tuesday Studio Day discussion around what our favourite architectural books are and why. We have a diverse portfolio of work within the office which includes commercial, interiors, healthcare, modular, education, engineering, Automotive R&D.
Would we have a similarly diverse selection of books?
David Kent, Director ‘Le Grand Bleu’ Marseille by Will Alsop.
I always admired Will and his work, another ‘flawed genius’. In the early years of his career he worked with my father (who was part of a large construction and development company) and they became good friends. He kindly dedicated the book to his and my father, and inscribed some words to my mother Joan. So, a really interesting book about a singular architect and his design process – which often involved large abstract canvasses painted over the weekend which he’d take into the office where he’d ‘tell the team to look for the building’ – and one with great sentimental value.
Andy Batty, Senior Architect Education: Architecture in Britain Today by Michael Webb
This book by Michael Web, published in 1969 by Country Life, rather ironically bearing in mind the content, may well be my favourite. It has that brave new world feel of the sixties, with some great plans, and uncompromising, brutalist architecture. On p47 is the Wolfson Building at St. Anne’s College Oxford, its refurbishment was the first project I worked on at DKA twenty five years ago.
Jon Fifield, Senior Architect: In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki
“We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates.”
Architecture as subject as opposed to object. A reminder the de-sanitised lived experience of being human is important for our psyche. Something that architecture can lose sight of, but equally embrace and hold traces of.
Macie Jackson, Architectural Assistant: Why We Build by Rowan Moore
One of the books that has stuck with me the most is Why We Build by Rowan Moore. It briefly runs through all the most exciting parts of recent architectural history and the cultural happenings behind them. I decided to study Architecture around the same time that I read it, which is why I remember this one the most.
Fabien Coupat, Director: If I Built A House by Chris Van Dusen
I read this every week as a bedtime story and it’s what my 5 year old thinks I do!
Ben Norrish, Architect: From Bauhaus to Our House by Tom Wolfe
Hilarious, critical, and cynical appraisal of modern architecture. A very different selection to a regular architecture book I would say.
Hannah Yoell, Senior Architect: Modern House by John Welsh
A coffee table book with beautiful photography and drawings. It opened my eyes to a smorgasboard of architectural styles, ways to use materials and possibilities in a world before pinterest and google earth.
Harry Kemp: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
This really inspired me whilst studying at UWE.
David Munday, Company Secretary: Take It Outside by Melissa Brasier, Garrett Magee & James DeSantis
Beautifully photographed and inspirational landscape designs that are generally tucked away in the middle of New York
James Bastable, Director: Utzon by Richard Weston
This is a fantastic book in its own right, with commentary, pictures, drawings and illustrations of some of the most seminal buildings of recent times by one of the most recognised names in Architecture. Furthermore, Richard Weston (author of this book and renowned Utzon expert) was one of our tutors at Cardiff University and gaining an insight into his passion for, and understanding of, the work of Utzon was quite inspiring.
Mike May, Architect:
Some of my favourites include Junichiro Tanizaki – In Praise of Shadows, Peter Zumthor – Thinking Architecture and Michael Pollan – A Place of My Own
It turns out that we like books with beautiful photographs, drawings AND words including architectural theory, history and design.