100 books like Experiencing Architecture

By Steen Eiler Rasmussen,

Here are 100 books that Experiencing Architecture fans have personally recommended if you like Experiencing Architecture. 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 House

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?

Architecture is always a collaboration between the architect who conceives the project, the builder who must realize it, and the client who starts it—and pays for it The protracted building process, which is often stressful, is always a complicated pas de trois. No one has written about this better than Tracy Kidder, who describes the complex choreography by following (in real-time and in detail) the construction of a family home in New England.

By Tracy Kidder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the New York Times bestseller House, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tracy Kidder takes readers to the heart of the American Dream: the building of a family's first house with all its day-to-day frustrations, crises, tensions, challenges, and triumphs.

In Kidder's "remarkable piece of craftsmanship in itself" (Chicago Tribune), constructing a staircase or applying a coat of paint becomes a riveting tale of conflicting wills, the strength and strain of relationships, and pride in skills. With drama, sensitivity, and insight, he takes us from blueprints to moving day, shedding light on objects usually taken for granted and creating a vivid cast…


Book cover of Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

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?

Buildings are a product of the artistic imagination and building technology, but they also depend on political will and cultural capital. Ross King, a skillful storyteller, describes how all these played a role in the construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in fifteenth-century Florence. Its maker, the great Filippo Brunelleschi, was the first architect in the modern sense, and in many ways the story of Western architecture begins here.

By Ross King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brunelleschi's Dome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work tells the story of the largest masonry dome ever built, describing the tremendous labour, technical ingenuity and bitter personal strife involved in its creation. Initially regarded as impossible to build, the construction of the dome, for the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, became the greatest architectural puzzle of the age, and, when finally completed in 1436, was hailed as one of the great wonders of the world. Also told is the story of the dome's architect, the brilliant and volatile Fillippo Brunelleschi. His ambition and ingenuity, personal rivalries and intrigues are set in the context…


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 Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

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?

Kidder’s book is non-fiction, but Eric Hodgins’s 1946 architectural account, although influenced by his own experience of building a house, is fictional; the novel was later made into a hit movie starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. It’s a very funny story that exaggerates—but only slightly—the travails faced by anyone undertaking this challenging task. Weathering the challenge, as Mr. Blandings discovers, requires fortitude, patience, and yes, a sense of humor.

By Eric Hodgins, William Steig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic tale of leaving the city and building a house in the country, only to find country life isn't so simple. But it is hilarious.
Mr. Blandings, a successful New York advertising executive, and his wife want to escape the confines of their tiny midtown apartment. They design the perfect home in the idyllic country, but soon they are beset by construction troubles, temperamental workmen, skyrocketing bills, threatening lawyers, and difficult neighbors. Mr. Blandings' dream house soon threatens to be the nightmare that undoes him.
This internationally bestselling book by Eric Hodgins is illustrated by William Steig and was…


Book cover of The Architecture of Happiness

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From my list on architecture for non-experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Laura Dushkes Why did Laura love this book?

This brief 280-page book illustrates the connection between us and our built environment – something that affects us all, but we don’t always appreciate. With illustrations that match the text, de Botton takes us around the world to show us how buildings and objects influence us – can make us happy or sad. A very accessible way to understand the philosophy of architecture. It will make you see your home and office in a new light.

By Alain De Botton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What makes a house beautiful? Is it serious to spend your time thinking about home decoration? Why do people disagree about taste? Can buildings make us happy? In The Architecture of Happiness Alain de Botton tackles a relationship central to our lives. Our buildings - and the objects we fill them with - affect us more profoundly than we might think. To take architecture seriously is to accept that we are, for better and for worse, different people in different places. De Botton suggests that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. Turning…


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 Archidoodle: An Architect's Activity Book

Stephanie Travis Author Of Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design: A Practical Guide on Sketching for Architecture and Interior Design Students

From my list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a design-obsessed George Washington University (Washington, DC) professor, author, architect, interior designer, sketcher, modernist, city lover, traveler, and University of Michigan alumni who writes about topics on architecture and interior design for people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone lives in the built environment, but not everyone understands it. For example, sketching is one of the best ways to understand a piece of furniture, interior, or building. You will never see the object the same way after you draw it! All of the books on this list are approachable, interesting, fun, and most importantly inspiring. Enjoy!

Stephanie's book list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone

Stephanie Travis Why did Stephanie love this book?

This is a fun sketching book to let your imagination run wild. More than just a coloring book, there are visual prompts that allow the user to modify or redesign an iconic building, or create one from scratch. It provides the framework; you provide the artistry. For kids and adults of all ages, this book will provoke creativity and encourage the architect in everyone.

By Steve Bowkett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This innovative book is the first to provide a fun, interactive way to learn about architecture. Filled with an array of beautiful and elegant drawings, it poses all manner of architectural challenges for the user: from designing your own skyscraper, to drawing an island house or creating a Constructivist monument, plus many others more.

Aimed at anyone who loves drawing buildings, it encourages the user to imagine their own creative solutions by sketching, drawing and painting in the pages of the book. In so doing, they will learn about a whole range of significant architectural issues, such as the importance…


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 American Building: The Environmental Forces That Shape It

Alison G. Kwok and Walter Grondzik Author Of The Green Studio Handbook: Environmental Strategies for Schematic Design

From my list on environmental schematic design.

Why are we passionate about this?

Alison and Walter have come into architecture on different paths, Alison with a biology/chemistry background (yes, one can become an architect with an accredited, first professional degree in architecture) and Walter through architectural engineering. We both believe that the union of science, aesthetics, energy, comfort, and health make buildings work! We enjoy creating simplified design processes for students to use in their work, so that they can gain confidence in the first steps of design. Equally, we feel it important to clearly understand what is to be created and how to confirm that what was intended actually results in the built environment.

Alison's book list on environmental schematic design

Alison G. Kwok and Walter Grondzik Why did Alison love this book?

Fitch is best known as a city planner—not as an architect or engineer. Perhaps it is this perspective that allowed him to prepare a delightful introduction to the various sensory dimensions—the environmental forces—we engage as building users.

These dimensions, which constitute much of our holistic experience with architecture, include air quality, light, sound, and heat. None are truly shown on architectural plans. All affect us for better or worse. This is a great introductory read bereft of equations. 

By James Marston Fitch, William Bobenhausen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few books have influenced the field of architecture more than American Building: The Environmental Forces That Shape It. Originally published in 1947, it has emerged as a classic work on the relationships among buildings, their inhabitants, and the environment. Now comes the first major revision in over twenty-five years, bringing this essential book completely up to date for a new, more environmentally aware generation of architects and designers.
In this superb volume, James Marston Fitch provides a fundamental theory of buildings. "The ultimate task of architecture," he writes, "is to act in favor of human beings: to interpose itself between…


Book cover of Behind the Glass: The Villa Tugendhat and Its Family

David Miller Author Of Solved: How the World's Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis

From my list on books that evoke a place and take you there.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love cities, and as a former Mayor, I understand their vibrant complexity. Like all of us, I am deeply worried about planetary breakdown, but unlike most, I’ve had the privilege of seeing firsthand the great work that leading mayors are undertaking globally to address the climate crisis. It's my belief that if more of us knew what is happening in some cities, and therefore what is possible in all, we would not only see that it is possible to avoid climate breakdown but fuelled by that hope, we would demand change from those we elect. You can hear more in the podcast I lead, Cities 1.5, or read more in my occasional newsletter on substack.

David's book list on books that evoke a place and take you there

David Miller Why did David love this book?

Behind the Glass is an entire book about a building and the family that built it, lost it, and then reclaimed its heritage 60 years later. It is a complex nonfiction book written by an anthropologist, Michael Lambek, a grandchild of the couple that built the house in 1929. It is about the family, their friendship with famous philosophers like Martin Heidegger and Ernst Tuegend, but most of all, about the house.

If you are an avid supporter of cities, like I am, buildings are fascinating - for their history, their design, and, more recently, for their carbon reduction potential. The Villa Tugendhat, the glass house, was (and remains) a modernist masterpiece designed by Miles Van der Rowe in 1928. As an architect, Van der Rowe was incredibly influential in major cities globally - in my home city of Toronto, for example.

This book focuses on the philosophical reasons the…

By Michael Lambek,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

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