100 books like Architecture

By Francis D. K. Ching,

Here are 100 books that Architecture fans have personally recommended if you like Architecture. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Antony Radford Author Of The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

From my list on analysing architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion as a teacher and writer is to help students and others interpret, understand and enjoy architecture and the built environment, and to help them respond in their own designs to the complexities of place, people, and construction. I have chosen five well-established books on analysing architecture that are highly illustrated, avoid jargon, can be explored rather than needing to be read sequentially cover-to-cover, and have lasting value. They offer guidance for beginning students and a checklist for the experienced. They are books to be kept handy and repeatedly consulted. Of course, analysing existing architecture is invaluable in designing new architecture. I hope you enjoy them.

Antony's book list on analysing architecture

Antony Radford Why did Antony love this book?

The first three books on my list concentrate on building form and space, with little about function.

The ‘pattern language’ is different, mapping human activities onto appropriate built forms, and advocating repeated patterns that have been found to work.

Christopher Alexander wants us to use the patterns in designing responses to situations, but they also help to judge how well-built spaces fit their contexts in analysing architecture.

Although Alexander maps activities onto his own preferred design style, the patterns are not inherently specific to any style or period of architecture.

Despite being written 50 years ago, this one-of-a-kind book is still fresh and relevant.

By Christopher Alexander,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Pattern Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You can use this book to design a house for yourself with your family; you can use it to work with your neighbors to improve your town and neighborhood; you can use it to design an office, or a workshop, or a public building. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction. After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are now publishing a major statement in
the form of three books which will, in their words, "lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture,…


Book cover of The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From my list on timeless architectural principles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Why did Shannon love this book?

When Susanka’s book first came out in the 90s, I felt like she had hit on something that many architects were being challenged by—the expanding popularity of the McMansion. Now with Tiny Houses bookmarking her work at the other end, and with all the at-home needs and complications that came with the pandemic, I still think she has got the formula right: Build better, not bigger. Her chapters include many principles on how to build smaller eloquent, gem houses, and to get away from the clunky, gaudy costume jewelry architecture ruining the American suburbs.

When I realized Alexander’s Pattern Language had also influenced Susanka’s work, I began to question why it was not on my list. But, I couldn't decide which book it would replace. Maybe it will make it onto the list for a future book, but that’s for another day. 

By Sarah Susanka, Kira Obolensky,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Not So Big House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This title offers an inspiration for homeowners and builders from a leading architect. "The Not So Big House" has sold over 500,000 copies since 1998. It features clear guidance that emphasises the use of quality not quantity. This anniversary edition includes 32 extra pages and a new introduction. Now available in paperback, the expanded 10th anniversary edition of Sarah Susanka's "The Not So Big House" is ready to inspire a whole new generation of homeowners and builders. Though a decade has passed, her deceptively simple message remains as powerful as ever: when it comes to our homes, quality should always…


Book cover of Analysing Architecture: the Universal Language of Place-Making

Antony Radford Author Of The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

From my list on analysing architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion as a teacher and writer is to help students and others interpret, understand and enjoy architecture and the built environment, and to help them respond in their own designs to the complexities of place, people, and construction. I have chosen five well-established books on analysing architecture that are highly illustrated, avoid jargon, can be explored rather than needing to be read sequentially cover-to-cover, and have lasting value. They offer guidance for beginning students and a checklist for the experienced. They are books to be kept handy and repeatedly consulted. Of course, analysing existing architecture is invaluable in designing new architecture. I hope you enjoy them.

Antony's book list on analysing architecture

Antony Radford Why did Antony love this book?

If it’s good, this book should obviously be on my list - and it is good.

Simon Unwin explains how architectural themes (a mix including elements, geometries, types, and sensory experience) work together to create a particular place. It has thoughtful text illustrated with his own drawings.

Unwin’s Twenty-Five Buildings Every Architect Should Understand demonstrates his approach to analysis in more detailed examples.

By Simon Unwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in its fifth edition, Analysing Architecture has become internationally established as the best introduction to architecture. Aimed primarily at those studying architecture, it offers a clear and accessible insight into the workings of this rich and fascinating subject. With copious illustrations from his own notebooks, the author dissects examples from around the world and all periods of history to explain the underlying strategies in architectural design and show how drawing may be used as a medium for analysis.

In this new edition, Analysing Architecture has been revised and expanded. Notably, the chapter on 'How Analysis Can Help Design' has…


Book cover of The Beautiful Necessity

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From my list on timeless architectural principles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Why did Shannon love this book?

One of my favorite books, this hidden gem was, unfortunately, for the world—as the author feared it might—spurned because of his association with Theosophy. When I accidentally discovered it a few years ago I was floored by the deep historical and philosophical connections he makes throughout his essays on architecture. In the first short essay, he sketches two-line symbols in a progression, with tight little summaries epitomizing each of the past ages of architecture, that surprisingly paralleled Spengler’s chapters on architecture in Decline of the West. His grasp of mathematics and his novel thoughts on its application in architecture are equally concise and mind-bending. In one essay he offers an elegant proposal for a modern style of ornamentation based on a four-dimensional hyper-space model. Beautiful necessity, a phrase taken from an essay by Emerson, was for Bragdon the essence and purpose of architecture itself. 

By Claude Fayette Bragdon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Beautiful Necessity-Seven Essays on Theosophy and Architecture is an art history classic by Claude Fayette Bragdon. One of the advantages of a thorough assimilation of what may be called the theosophic idea is that it can be applied with advantage to every department of knowledge and of human activity: like the key to a cryptogram it renders clear and simple that which before seemed intricate and obscure. Let us apply this key to the subject of art, and to the art of architecture in particular, and see if by so doing we may not learn more of art than…


Book cover of The Process of Creating Life: The Nature of Order, Book 2: An Essay of the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From my list on timeless architectural principles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Why did Shannon love this book?

Over his lifetime, Alexander’s controversial approach to architecture incited widespread criticism, yet it is precisely these unique and thought-provoking ideas that make The Nature of Order an essential read. Beyond his sometimes obscure writing style and lackluster built examples, Alexander's deep commitment to architecture as a complex layered system of patterns—an idea he first popularized in his hippy-architects bible, A Pattern Language—is still palpable in this four-volume magnum opus. 

I found the second volume, where he offers a guide for how to “create life” through patterns, most pertinent to this list. Here he distills his earlier work down to fifteen essential patterns that lead to architecture as a living structure. There is gold to be mined here, for those in search of some semblance of order in the chaotic current of modern architecture. 

By Christopher Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Process of Creating Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christopher Alexander's masterwork, the result of 27 years of research, considers three vital perspectives: a scientific perspective; a perspective based on beauty and grace; a commonsense perspective based on our intuitions and everyday life.


Book cover of The Seven Lamps of Architecture

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From my list on timeless architectural principles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Why did Shannon love this book?

Whenever I’m reading Ruskin, I feel like I’m overhearing a crusty old man’s rant. Some rants I love—when he talks about honesty in materials, or his in-depth thoughts on nature and light; some I question—demonizing cast iron facades; and others I disagree with—the necessity for obedience to God as an architect. And some of his ideas are so outdated, they’ve almost come back full circle. But the reason I included this older volume, is simply because Ruskin’s seven principles on architecture have withstood the test of time.

By John Ruskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Seven Lamps of Architecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I believe architecture must be the beginning of arts, and that the others must follow her in their time and order; and I think the prosperity of our schools of painting and sculpture, in which no one will deny the life, though many the health, depends upon that of our architecture." — John Ruskin.
In August of 1848, John Ruskin and his new bride visited northern France, for the gifted young critic wished to write a work that would examine the essence of Gothic architecture. By the following April, the book was finished. Titled The Seven Lamps of Architecture, it…


Book cover of Le Corbusier: An Analysis of Form

Antony Radford Author Of The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

From my list on analysing architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion as a teacher and writer is to help students and others interpret, understand and enjoy architecture and the built environment, and to help them respond in their own designs to the complexities of place, people, and construction. I have chosen five well-established books on analysing architecture that are highly illustrated, avoid jargon, can be explored rather than needing to be read sequentially cover-to-cover, and have lasting value. They offer guidance for beginning students and a checklist for the experienced. They are books to be kept handy and repeatedly consulted. Of course, analysing existing architecture is invaluable in designing new architecture. I hope you enjoy them.

Antony's book list on analysing architecture

Antony Radford Why did Antony love this book?

I remember Geoffrey Baker’s lectures about space, movement, and light in Le Corbusier's buildings from my own student days.

His infectious enthusiasm is captured in his book, with his own clear sketches and diagrams.

Baker’s analysis has been a lasting influence on my own work, encouraging me to experience moving around and through architecture, and where this is not possible to imagine that experience from drawings and photographs.

Check out Baker’s Design Strategies in Architecture: An Approach to the Analysis of Form, too.

By Geoffrey Baker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This unique appraisal of the famous Swiss architect's major works have now been expanded to include two more buildings. The Villa Shodhan and the Pavilion Suisse round out the coverage of Le Corbusier's significant works. The author critically examines Le Corbusier's achievements helping student and professional alike to appreciate the elements of successful design. The narrative and fine illustration cover the key buildings from each of the four developmental stages of his work, making it an excellent guide for practicing architects and students.


Book cover of Responsive Environments

Antony Radford Author Of The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

From my list on analysing architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion as a teacher and writer is to help students and others interpret, understand and enjoy architecture and the built environment, and to help them respond in their own designs to the complexities of place, people, and construction. I have chosen five well-established books on analysing architecture that are highly illustrated, avoid jargon, can be explored rather than needing to be read sequentially cover-to-cover, and have lasting value. They offer guidance for beginning students and a checklist for the experienced. They are books to be kept handy and repeatedly consulted. Of course, analysing existing architecture is invaluable in designing new architecture. I hope you enjoy them.

Antony's book list on analysing architecture

Antony Radford Why did Antony love this book?

This book is as much about urban design and landscape architecture as about architecture, its annotated sketches demonstrating how good places respond to their contexts.

I like its straightforward, practical, and concise approach. Although billed as ‘a manual for designers’, it is equally useful in analysing why some environments work, both practically and emotionally, and others don’t.

It is opinionated, not afraid to criticise as well as applaud. 

By Ian Bentley (editor), Alan Alcock, Paul Murrain , Sue McGlynn , Graham Smith

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Clearly demonstrates the specific characteristics that make for comprehensible, friendly and controllable places; 'Responsive Environments' - as opposed to the alienating environments often imposed today. By means of sketches and diagrams, it shows how they may be designed in to places or buildings.

This is a practical book about architecture and urban design. It is most concerned with the areas of design which most frequently go wrong and impresses the idea that ideals alone are not enough. Ideals must be linked through appropriate design ideas to the fabric of the built environemnt itself. This book is a practical attempt to…


Book cover of From a Cause to a Style: Modernist Architecture's Encounter with the American City

Witold Rybczynski Author Of Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City

From my list on architecture for non-architects.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. Although I’ve written more than twenty books on a variety of subjects, I was trained as an architect and I’ve designed and built houses, researched low cost housing, and taught budding architects for four decades. I was architecture critic for Wigwag and Slate and I’ve written for numerous national magazines and newspapers. Perhaps more important, my wife and I built our own house, mixing concrete, sawing wood, and hammering nails. I wrote a book about that, too.

Witold's book list on architecture for non-architects

Witold Rybczynski Why did Witold love this book?

If you’ve ever wondered why modern buildings look the way they do—and look so different from say, the buildings of our grandparents’ generation—you cannot do better than read this collection of essays that examines the current state of modern architecture. Glazer, a sociologist who was a noted public intellectual, brings a down-to-earth intelligence and a sharp eye to his subject.

By Nathan Glazer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From a Cause to a Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Modernism in architecture and urban design has failed the American city. This is the decisive conclusion that renowned public intellectual Nathan Glazer has drawn from two decades of writing and thinking about what this architectural movement will bequeath to future generations. In From a Cause to a Style, he proclaims his disappointment with modernism and its impact on the American city. Writing in the tradition of legendary American architectural critics Lewis Mumford and Jane Jacobs, Glazer contends that modernism, this new urban form that signaled not just a radical revolution in style but a social ambition to enhance the conditions…


Book cover of Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan: The Role of Traditional Japanese Art and Architecture in the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright

Simon Unwin Author Of Analysing Architecture: the Universal Language of Place-Making

From my list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a student fifty years ago I struggled with architecture. I have spent my whole career as an architect and teacher trying to understand how it works. All my books are intended to convey that understanding to others as clearly as I can. I believe that architecture is a universal language of place-making, simply and directly expressed in the traditional architectures of different cultures around the world, and lifted into the realms of poetry by some gifted individuals. For many years I taught at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff, Wales. I am currently Professor Emeritus at The University of Dundee in Scotland. 

Simon's book list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice

Simon Unwin Why did Simon love this book?

All of my recommendations are about the ways modern architects have learnt from traditional architecture. The first appeared when I began working on the first edition of Analysing Architecture back in the 1990s. It is Kevin Nute’s exploration of the ideas that Frank Lloyd Wright gleaned from encounters with traditional Japanese architecture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nute’s book influenced my perception of architectural creativity as not fitting neatly into separate historical/stylistic categories, but as a realm of possible cross-fertilisation across cultures.

By Kevin Nute,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is the first thorough account of Frank Lloyd Wright's relationship with Japan and its arts. It presents significant new information on the nature and extent of Wright's formal and philosophical debt to Japanese art and architecture.

Eight primary channels of influence are examined in detail, from Japanese prints to specific individuals and publications, and the evidence of their impact on Wright is illustrated through a mixture of textual and drawn analyses.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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