During a crap time working in an uninspiring office for longer than I want to remember – I spent my lunch hour reading anything which kept me enthusiastic and challenged. In retrospect it was probably a good way of spending a couple of years and I have tried to continue the habit.
To follow on from yesterday’s post about image based references, today I want to post about the books which I have found to a be a great influence on my work or way of understanding things. I also thought that as we have all come from different backgrounds and schools from around the world it would be interesting to share and compare what we were encouraged to read in our undergraduate years, therefore I have divided the post into to three: Books Past, Recent, and Present.
I have added a short description for each title which hopefully sums up why they have had an impact on me. Again, I apologise for the self indulgent nature that these blogs are taking but I hope others will share their influences in the comments or in future posts. Cheers!
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs – Saved New York in the 1960s by pointing out what made it special : the people in the communities of the many neighbourhoods – not a road.
The Poetics of Space (La Poétique de l’Espace) by Gaston Bachelard – enlivened my imagination
Thinking Architecture, Peter Zumthor – was a bit of a bible for a year or so.
The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa – opened a whole world of possibilities to design beyond the visual.
A pattern language, Christopher Alexander – defined my idea of the vernacular
In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃 , In’ei Raisan) Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. – short essays on aesthetics written at a time when Japan was indulging in the electric light bulb.
Houses, SANAA – the elevation of other qualities in spaces was a sight for my sore Northern European eyes.
Architecture as City: Saemangeum Island City, Florian Beigel–selecting, documenting and arranging a range of city structures and typologies to form the new South Korean city.
Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham – Refreshing: He learnt to drive just to visit Los Angeles, and his enthusiasm for the place, embracing its ugly features as a unique situation in cites during the 1970s.
The Unilever Series: Rachel Whiteread – taught me to think in the negative
Life Between Buildings, Jan Gehl – I think about this book most days here
The Feeling of Things: Adam Caruso – concerned with the cultural, tectonic, historical and social political.
Walid Raad by Alan Gilbert – part of the Atlas Group – a lesson in documenting a form of reality
Following four all contribute to my understanding of the use, application and connotations of materials.
Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas – to quote: ‘the city [Manhattan] is a catalogue of models and precedents: all the desirable elements that exist scattered through the Old World finally assembled in a single place.’
‘Fed on splendour and miseries of the metropolitan condition – hyperdensity, without losing faith in it as the basis for a desirable modern culture.’
Sverre Fehn: The Pattern of Thoughts – incredibly graceful and composed in connecting materials and forms to a narrative.
Converstaion Series, Enzo Mari/Hans Ulrich Obrist – see #1 post this week for more Mari.
Models & Constructs, Norman Potter – lessons in practice and making.
Learning from China: The Tao the City, Carl Fingerhuth – applying gestalt to our cities.
Streets for People: A Primer for Americans, Bernard Rudofsky – Amazing photos and a relevant argument even forty years later.
Encounters. Architectural Essays. Juhani Pallasmaa – I keep pushing back the return date to the library – full of gems.
The Enclosed Garden by Rob Aben – arguing to reintroduce places for piece back into our cities.
Architecture as a Craft, Michiel Riedijk – great drawings and models and interesting chat about a range of ways to ‘make’ architecture.