Are you looking to get a degree in architecture? Or have you recently graduated and feeling the disassociation from studio life (all about you and your ideas) and starting at the bottom of work life? Once in a while I get questions from people like you asking for advice and recommended reading. After responding to a hopeful architect on Dwell.com I decided to flesh out my answer and include more intro to architecture books. So I created this list of must read architecture books for beginners and students (that I think seasoned architects would agree with too).
Update: It looks like this book has become a collector's edition since I wrote this, with used copies going for $280 and new ones for $791! Glad I got it when it came out!
"Let's build a white wall where the shade of this tree can rest."
For someone interested in the poetry of architecture, this is about as good an opening line for a book as you can get. The book is all about the home of Mexican architect Luis Barragan's self-designed home and essays like the forward that begin with the above quote give us an inside look at the architect's way of seeing that makes the book a worthwhile read.
Not that it's all about the text. Architecture is visual and the photographs are plentiful and walk us through the entire house, with scale drawings in the back in case you're interested. One aspect of the home that I wasn't too familiar with before seeing this book is that many of the rooms had mirrored globes strategically placed. For an architect living in his own creation, it comes off as a self-conscious abstraction of space. Architect experience our work through representation - drawings, models, photographs. And in his own home - the only work he experiences after construction - he chooses to continue to view the house through an abstracted filter, the mirrored globe. Psychologists, chime in now.
It won't take you long on this website to notice that I am not afraid of using color in design. For architects, when we think of those who used color as a discreet design tool, Barragan is the first name. But there was much more to his work than a splash of color, there was a sacredness to the spaces he created; spare, shaped by sunlight and texture. For one interested in going into depth learning about such work, this book is a great addition to the library.
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