The best books to understand what architecture is about

Why am I passionate about this?

My lifelong search for how contemporary architecture can be as loved and graceful as the buildings and environments of our heritage have made me create numerous books, lectures, and films on matters I find crucial. But every new text seems to create more questions than answers. Perhaps it is better to build the talk? Architecture has dimensions, such as time, that make the reading richer than most books. But that brings you back to interpretation. It seems as books and buildings will be impossible to separate. At least for me.


I wrote...

Book cover of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

What is my book about?

101 questions and answers on why humankind always tries to build a better world. Well, perhaps not always, but the book also tells about why we fail. The answers are sometimes witty, never boring but always serious.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Rasmus Wærn Why did I love this book?

Complexity and Contradiction made me believe that there is a way forward for architecture.

I got my copy as a gift from a girlfriend on the day I began my studies in architecture, and it has followed me ever since. The girlfriend did not. 

Robert Venturi’s manifesto is more relevant today than ever. The title is a marvel of concentrated wisdom and the content is a sparkling argumentation for an inclusive, rich, humane, and sensitive architecture. 

Book cover of Alvar Aalto: The Early Years

Rasmus Wærn Why did I love this book?

There are more than one hundred books written on Alvar and Aino Aalto but none of them are as personal as the ones written by their friend Göran Schildt. 

I hold The Human Factor highest. Alvar Aalto conceived a deep understanding of life and created a sensitive architecture that embraced it. He was praised for that, but Schildt goes beyond the glory and explains how humane architecture remained controversial in a technological era.

By Goran Schildt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alvar Aalto as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Describes the childhood and education of the great Finnish architect, looks at his first designs, and identifies central themes in his work


Book cover of Building: 3,000 Years of Design, Engineering, and Construction

Rasmus Wærn Why did I love this book?

To read about the long, long history of creating solid, sun-lit, comfortable, and sound houses and homes is truly inspiring.

I keep going back to Bill Addis bible again and again as I look for understanding of how the inventiveness of humankind have evolved the world we live in. To read about the symbiosis between material and matter is not only joyful; it is also a source of inspiration as we today have to re-invent many of the un-sustainable solutions we rely on.

By Bill Addis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Concise Townscape

Rasmus Wærn Why did I love this book?

Townscape is more than a book on how good cities are shaped. It is a book that describes generic qualities of space.

Cullens's way of understanding and analyzing urban structures with pen and paper has much to tell future architects. That the book has been around for more than sixty years is a compelling evidence of its outstanding capacity to educate generation after generation on how to create richness and avoid chaos.

Urban planners of today have much to learn from Cullen’s simple, but efficient, drawings and captions. 

By Gordon Cullen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Concise Townscape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book pioneered the concept of townscape. 'Townscape' is the art of giving visual coherence and organization to the jumble of buildings, streets and space that make up the urban environment. It has been a major influence on architects, planners and others concerned with what cities should look like.


Book cover of In The Scheme Of Things: Alternative Thinking on the Practice of Architecture

Rasmus Wærn Why did I love this book?

Sometimes the best books are not the ones that make you take notes, but the ones that make you think new thoughts.

Fisher’s book is one of these thought-provoking pamphlets where the best moments of reading are when you let the book rest on your lap and reflect upon how his thoughts on practicing architecture can reflect on your own work. This happens to me as I read about the revival of the language of brick and mortar.

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Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

Book cover of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

What is my book about?

Weird Foods of Portugal describes the author's first years trying to make sense of a strange new place and a home there for herself.

Witty, dreamlike, and at times jarring, the book sizzles with social commentary looking back at America and beautiful, finely drawn descriptions of Portugal and its people. Part dark-humor cautionary tale, part travel adventure, ultimately, Hermance's book of narrative non-fiction serves as affirmation for any who wish to make a similar move themselves.

Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

What is this book about?

"Wendy Lee Hermance describes Portugal´s colorful people and places - including taxi drivers and animals - with a poet´s empathy and dark humor. Part travel adventure, part cautionary tale, Weird Foods of Portugal is at it´s heart, affirmation for all who consider making such a move themselves."


5 book lists we think you will like!

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