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    10 Must-Read Architecture Books For The Amateur Archophile
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10 Must-Read Architecture Books For The Amateur Archophile

Architecture Books | Fans of architecture are a truly vibrant and insatiable people.  The buildings of the world, from homes to skyscrapers, churches to sheds, are met with a delightful appreciation for complicated craftsmanship.  To learn and grow as a fan of architecture, no matter how casual, these 10 architecture books will provide a base of understanding to explore the world of architecture armed with knowledge.  Read on, fellow archophile, to discover a new book or two that will help you round out the way you experience your love of architecture.

Vitruvius: The Ten Books Of Architecture

No matter your passion– be it sports, cooking, design or architecture, you are well served to learn about the roots of that passion.  In the world of architecture, it is hard to go further back than the writings of Vitruvius, especially The Ten Books Of Architecture.  Vitruvius was instrumental in both the creation and documentation of the Roman aqueducts, early surveying equipment, the concept of central heating, dewatering machines– and the inspiration for Da Vinci’s famous multi-armed, multi-legged Vitruvian Man which was a model for human proportions.  Vitruvius’ Ten Books of Architecture are collectively the original script for building lasting structures and shelters, the guide on how humanity should construct its habitats.  If the Judeo-Christian tradition is built on the bible, this book is its architectural equivalent.  [from $9.20 at amazon]

Sustainable Design by Williams

Fast-forward from the time of Vitruvius to modern day, and the focus of architecture is now as much about the environment as it is about the structure.  Sustainable Design by Daniel Williams is a comprehensive guide to the philosophy, planning and execution of sustainable practices in modern architecture.  For fans of architecture to truly appreciate the achievements of  progressive designers and the green structures they create, understanding their processes is vital.  The next time you see a LEED-certified structure, you’ll recognize aspects of its design from materials to site planning to energy consumption and more, things that you may not have noticed before reading this book.  [from $49.99 at amazon]

The Poetics of Space by Bachelard

Any designer or fan of design should consider this book, as it is one of the most inspiring works of architectural philosophy in print.  The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard explores the relationship between humanity and the spaces we occupy, how we interact and how design influences our emotions.  Bachelard’s book is intended to be taken slowly, requiring time for reflection throughout its pages.  The result is a book that helps transform the way we perceive our structures, inspiring an awareness that your home (or the home’s you design) truly deserve.  [from $10.40 at amazon]

Architecture in the 20th Century

The 20th Century was one of the most architecturally dynamic periods of time in human history.  New materials, philosophies and trends drove cities higher into the sky, made home building a big business and saw a number of pioneers craft timeless structural gems.  Architecture in the 20th Century by Taschen is an immersive look into the buildings of the last century and the architects who built them.  Architects from Wright to Niemeyer, Gaudi to Gehry are all profiled within this exhaustive tome of what could be architecture’s greatest century yet.  [from $19.79 at amazon]  Special thanks to, a must-read architecture blog, for suggesting this book for our list.

Tiny Houses by Zeiger

Bigger is most certainly not always better.  Tiny Houses by Mimi Zeiger showcases a collection of small dwellings for eco-conscious inhabitants that still provide a big lifestyle.  As we spend most of our time in our kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, Tiny Houses explores just how simple our structures can be.  The trend of “microgreen living” is gaining adherents every day, as progressive home buyers and designers are opting for better space in small packages, not wasted space with little inspiration. [from $19.77 at amazon]  Special thanks to Materialicious for suggesting this book.  Materialicious is an excellent architecture and design news website powered by its users.

Minimum by John Pawson

Architect John Pawson is one of the foremost practitioners in minimal architecture today, so it’s rather fitting that he document his philosophy in a tome like this.  Minimum by John Pawson explores structures of simplicity and the airy interiors within, showcasing homes where minimalism has been done right.  Pawson’s focus on mass, light, structure, ritual, landscape, order and containment are all shown within, with visual examples of how minimalism can truly make a home.  While the light and space of this brand of architecture may not be for all, this book is for those who cherish the clean, cool space of modern minimalism.  [from $27.55 at amazon]

Shedworking by Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson’s Shedworking book is a celebration of the alternative workplace revolution, a guide for those who wish to work in a new, personal and private domain.  In a time where telecommuting and home entrepreneurship is on the rise, workers are finding the need to separate their work from their home and vice versa.  The concept of Shedworking is to build or rehab a small structure off-site from your own home, one to accommodate a productive and peaceful working environment away from the distractions of home.  If that kind of lifestyle is your bag, Shedworking is your book.  [$19.77 at amazon]

Analysing Architecture

Many of the architecture world’s most promising students began their studies with this very book.  Analysing Architecture by Simon Unwin is one of the finest introductions in print to architecture and its technique.  While a book like this may not be an obvious choice for a fan of architecture, there is no better way of learning the ins and outs of architectural development than from a book like this.  Even if you don’t ever see yourself drawing up blueprints or hiring contractors (unless you’re designing the master shed office!), this book can extend an understanding of architecture that only a studied professional could eclipse.  [from $42.73 at amazon]

Prefabulous + Sustainable by Sheri koones

Author Sheri Koones has devoted herself to penning a collection of books faithfully documenting the growth of the modern prefab home.  Prefabulous + Sustainable is Koones’ latest in the series, a look into prefab homes that are as sustainable as they are beautiful.  The concept of prefab construction allows for many environmentally-conscious benefits, the most important of which could be the lessened impact on a home’s landscape when compared to on-site construction.  Take the example on the cover, the Tucker Bayou home by Haven Homes.  It rests quietly, just north of Florida’s panhandle beaches, with palm ferns and swaying pines that have stood on this lot long before the home arrived.  This and 24 other prefab homes are profiled in this excellent book.  If you enjoy the prefab movement as much as we do, this book is a must-read.  [$16.50 from amazon]

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand has inspired as many architects as it has philosophers, a work of fiction rich in philosophy and a celebration of the unadulterated creative human spirit.  The Fountainhead tells the story of architect Howard Roark, a man with unwavering creative esteem that he subjugates for no one– and a world conspiring to force him into conformity.  Penned loosely around the rise of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, The Fountainhead discusses the great social barriers that impede creative progress, and how an undying trust in one’s own creative spirit can shatter those barriers.  Whether you’re a fan of architecture or not, this book may still be one of the most important books you’ll ever read.  [from $9.99 at amazon] [img via]

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If you want to improve your understanding of the world of architecture, these ten books are a great start.  If there are any great books you’ve read that we should include in this list, be sure to share them in the comments.  For now, be sure to head over and visit our friends at CoolBoom and Materialicious who helped us build this list of great architecture books.  You’ll be glad you paid them a visit.  In the mean time, we think you’ll enjoy these other great features on TheCoolist:

  1. Museum Without Walls by Jonathan Meades. As Rowan Moore wrote, ‘Meades is a wandering eye attached to a skilful mouth’