100 books like Building

By Bill Addis,

Here are 100 books that Building fans have personally recommended if you like Building. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Concise Townscape

Rasmus Wærn Author Of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

From my list on 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.

Rasmus' book list on what architecture is about

Rasmus Wærn Why did Rasmus 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 Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

I was introduced to this at the end of my first year as an architecture student and it introduced me to looking at history through a designer’s eyes.

The original and best edition was in a small format, packed with postage-stamp-sized illustrations. Venturi’s target was the reductive, less-is-more strand of Modern architecture. ‘Less is a bore’, Venturi declared, and he opened my eyes to Mannerism and the Baroque and offered new insights into modern masters such as Aalto and Le Corbusier. 

Book cover of Alvar Aalto: The Early Years

Rasmus Wærn Author Of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

From my list on 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.

Rasmus' book list on what architecture is about

Rasmus Wærn Why did Rasmus 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 In The Scheme Of Things: Alternative Thinking on the Practice of Architecture

Rasmus Wærn Author Of What is Architecture? And 100 Other Questions

From my list on 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.

Rasmus' book list on what architecture is about

Rasmus Wærn Why did Rasmus 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.

By Thomas R. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In The Scheme Of Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Someone Builds the Dream

Colleen Paeff Author Of The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London's Poop Pollution Problem

From my list on the infrastructure of our cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never thought much about what makes our cities habitable until I started doing research for The Great Stink. But learning about sewers and wastewater treatment (They’re surprisingly interesting!) turned out to be the beginning of a fascination with other types of city infrastructure that I had previously ignored. Kids have a natural fascination for infrastructure of all kinds, but I was surprised when I couldn’t find any lists of picture books that group different types of city infrastructure together. So, I made one. I hope you and your little ones like these books as much as I did, and I hope you find many similar books to enjoy!

Colleen's book list on the infrastructure of our cities

Colleen Paeff Why did Colleen love this book?

What I love about this book is that instead of focusing on the engineers, architects, artists, and other high-profile designers who tend to get the credit for creating so much of what we see in our cities–it focuses on the laborers who take their plans and make them a reality. Someone Builds the Dream will get kids (and their parents) thinking more about the building process and the people who spend their days putting together the parts of the many buildings, bridges, fountains, and other structures that come together to create a city. Young children will love the rhyming text and older ones will find much to wonder about as they scan the vibrant illustrations.

By Lisa Wheeler, Loren Long (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someone Builds the Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

All across this great big world, jobs are getting done

by many hands in many lands. It takes much more than ONE.

Gorgeously written and illustrated, this is an eye-opening exploration of the many types of work that go into building our world - from the making of a bridge to a wind farm, an amusement park, and even the very picture book that you are reading. An architect may dream up the plans for a house, but someone has to actually work the saws and pound the nails. This book is a thank-you to the skilled women and men…


Book cover of On Altering Architecture

Graeme Brooker Author Of 50/50 Words for Reuse: A Minifesto

From my list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Graeme Brooker is a Professor and Head of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art London. He has written and published fifteen books on the histories and theories of inside spaces, many of which focus on the reuse of existing artefacts, buildings, and cities. Apart from teaching and writing, when he isn’t cycling, he is often staring intently at the sea in Brighton, where he currently lives.

Graeme's book list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings

Graeme Brooker Why did Graeme love this book?

On Altering Architecture belongs to a small and unique collection of publications that are involved in distinguishing the discipline of working with existing buildings. In the book, Scott constructs an inspired argument for the understanding of the significance of environmental design disciplines such as Interior design and installation art. The book is divided into twelve chapters, each an essay on reuse and overlapping disciplines. 

Each chapter is full of insightful and interesting case studies, expertly analysed and explained. On Altering Architecture is an absorbing and fascinating book that is packed with ideas, witty asides, mischievous digressions, and provocative thoughts. In parts the tone of the book is conversational, in others authoritative, each blends seamlessly into each other providing a compelling read. 

By Fred Scott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bringing together interior design and architectural theory, this exciting text looks at the common practices of building alteration, reconsidering established ideas and methods, to initiate the creation of a theory of the interior or interventional design.

Fred Scott examines in-depth case studies of interventional design from architectural history across the world - examples discussed are taken from the States, Europe and Japan. Scott expands and builds on the ideas of Viollet-le-Duc, structuralism and other thoughts to layout criteria for an art of intervention and change. The book draws on the philosophy of conservation, preservation and restoration, as well as exploring…


Book cover of The Artless Word: Mies van der Rohe on the Building Art

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?

Two of the biggest names in twentieth-century architecture. Thoroughly researched, Neumeyer’s book explores the thought processes of the first, the generally taciturn German architect Mies van der Rohe. It includes a discussion of his fascination with traditional African architecture and its clear relationship between form and the constructional potential of specific materials (timber, grass, stone, rope, mud…) which of course translates into Mies’s own work with modern materials (welded steel and plate glass). But there is a lot more to this book than that; too much to cover here.

By Fritz Neumeyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German


Book cover of Building the Japanese House Today

Azby Brown Author Of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry: Secrets of an Ancient Woodworking Craft

From my list on Japanese carpentry and construction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Azby Brown is a widely published author and authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environment, whose groundbreaking writings on traditional Japanese carpentry, compact housing, and traditional sustainable practices are recognized as having brought these fields to the awareness of Western designers and the general public. His creative work spans many media and has been widely exhibited internationally. In 2003 he founded the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo, focussing on cognitive and cultural issues surrounding the human hand and its use in the creative process, conducting collaborative research with neuroscientists and perceptual psychologists. A native of New Orleans, he has lived in Japan since 1985 and is currently on the sculpture faculty of Musashino Art University in Tokyo. 

Azby's book list on Japanese carpentry and construction

Azby Brown Why did Azby love this book?

Len Brackett trained with superb carpenters in Japan and returned to the US West Coast to create exquisite Japanese-stye houses and other buildings. His work is in extremely high demand. This book shows how high-quality Japanese-style design and construction can be adapted to our current lifestyles without sacrificing either aesthetically or functionally. Brackett’s descriptions of his design and construction process, as well as of the wood material he uses, are enticing and provide a lot of technical and philosophical insight.

By Len Brackett, Peggy Landers Rao, Aya Brackett (photographer)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Built like a piece of fine furniture, the traditional Japanese house is universally admired for its clean lines, intricate joinery, and unparalleled woodworking. Focusing primarily on a new guesthouse in California, this elegant volume shows how a classic Japanese house can be built to offer the warmth and comfort that modern homemakers require.Len Brackett, rigorously trained as a temple carpenter in Kyoto, has spent decades adapting the ancient Japanese design aesthetic to Western needs. Here he demonstrates step-by-step how both the traditional live-on-the-floor house, as well as models that accommodate furniture, can be constructed to provide such modern essentials as…


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 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…


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