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    Ten books every architect should have on her/his shelves

    By Daniel_Linder
    Feb 3, '06 12:40 AM EST

    In the seminar by Jeannie Kim "Architects and their books" we were encouraged to write a personal list of ten books that we thought every architect should own and have on her/his shelf. So here is my go at it, I would be delighted if any of you would post their favourites. But please consider that the books should benefit the architect in her/his general task to create architecture and that they need not necessarily be your favourite books or about architecture at all.

    So here are my top ten in descending order:

    01) Neal Stephenson: Snowcrash
    02) Paulo Coelho: Manual of the Warrior of the Light
    03) Sun Zu: The art of war
    04) Wolfgang Meisenheimer: Choreographie des architektonischen Raumes
    05) El croquis: Zaha Hadid
    06) Reyner Banham: Megastructure : urban futures of the recent past
    07) Leonardo da Vinci: Any reprint of his codices
    08) Antonio Canova: Any book about his sculptures
    09) Helmut Newton: Any book of his studies in the nude
    10) Ernst Neufert: Bauentwurfslehre


    • liberty bell

      For An Architecture of Reality - Michael Benedikt. Most definitely.

      Feb 3, 06 2:16 am

      In no particular order:

      Maarten Hajer, Arnold Reijndorp: In search of new public domain
      Lyotard: The Post-Modern Condition
      The Metapolis Dictionary of Advanced Architecture
      Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland
      CJ Lim: Sins
      Rasmussen: Experiencing Architecture
      Koolhaas: Delirious New York
      Herman Hesse: Steppenwolf
      10 x 10

      Feb 3, 06 2:29 am
      Oana S.

      pls, not Coelho.......

      Feb 3, 06 3:52 am

      The story of Philosophy- Will Durant
      The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa
      Delirius New york by Rem Koolhaas
      Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects by Rafael Moneo
      A Brief history of time- Stephen Hawking (Though not relevent, its good to have one)
      Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye
      Modern Architecture Since 1900 by William curtis
      Parallax by Holl (Not a must though)
      Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier
      The Alchemist- Paulo Coelo

      And the common ones -
      History of Architecture by Sir Banister Fletcher
      Architecture today by James steele
      Form, Space and Order - D.K. Ching
      Some good essays, books on Photography, fine arts etc..

      Feb 3, 06 4:17 am

      Daniel, I`m curious to know the relevence of 'Sun Tzu`s The Art of war ' in your list? I`ve got an audio book on that but never felt like hearing it once.

      Oana, I somehow missed your comment earlier. why not? I just finished 'The Alchemist' and I think its a pretty good read.

      Feb 3, 06 4:26 am

      art of war was a strange choice for me too, but if it floats your boat, go for it...just don't believe it explains as much about asia as most westerners would like...

      my top choice for the past few years has been daniel dennett's 'darwin's dangerous idea'. completely changed my point of view on architecture.

      Feb 3, 06 4:44 am

      Jump- In that case you should read 'Chaos' by James Gleick. The book completely tries to change ones views on life itself... before i threw it away after reading a few pages. But, seriously talking about change its one hell of a book.

      Feb 3, 06 5:36 am

      Le Febvre: "Production of Space"
      David Harvey: all books
      Neil Leach: "Understanding Architecture"
      Nan Ellin: "Postmodern Urbanism"
      Aldous Huxley: "Doors of Perception"
      Henry Miller: "Rimbaud"
      Christine Boyer
      Abraham Moles (don't remember)
      Relph: "Place and Placeness"
      Anthony Vidler: "Warped Space"

      Feb 3, 06 9:53 am

      Thanks for all the replies, that's totally cool! I think I'll spend some quality time in the library in the next weeks... Most of the mentioned books I don't know (it happens a lot here in my studies: Most of the books that american students seem to be encouraged to read are virtually unknown in germany).


      The Sun Zu came on my list because it truly is about strategy. Although he claims in following pages often the contradiction to his former words it is interesting to read (and I mean the translation of the original and not a commented version). Just because it was at times so utterly alien in its advice (other culture, different time) it made me think about different ways to form strategies and was pretty productive for me. Although not directly quotable in my daily life it makes up a part of my unconscious day to day strategies.


      I don't like all that Coelho writes but the alchemist and the Manual are "must haves" for me. But I think that the manual is the most personal choice on my list, so there is nothing wrong in objecting to it. :-) Where is your list? I would be interested to read it. ;-)

      Feb 3, 06 10:16 am
      Oana S.

      my first contact with coelho was also the alchemist (several years back) - as a recommendation from some friends.
      i read it. i know it usually has very good comments, but i felt it was a bit too 'easy'. so i read a couple of other books by him. they weren't bad but i just don't think they are something special or worth the bothering.
      meanwhile coelho visited this country several times and had a huge succes. there is not one dumb blonde pseudocelebrity that doesn't answer coelho, when asked about her fav writer. Coelho has no fault, of course, he's rather the victim. like when they overplay a good song...
      i am subjective and have an aversion towards his books. but it's just my humble opinion so, nevermind.

      Feb 3, 06 10:17 am
      Oana S.

      list coming soon. paper to do for tomorrow morning. in the first break u'll have the list.
      don't get my comment as a negative remark-it slipped out.
      i just don't like the guy.

      Feb 3, 06 10:22 am

      But your opinion is very valid. My girlfriend read some of his cheesier books that were recommended by a friend and found them pretty bad, too, until she read the alchemist. That one she liked but she discouraged me to read his other books. If you haven't read the "Manual" you could give it a try. It is not a book to read through in a row but is made up of one-page-sentiments taken out of many different religions or philosophies. You read one or two and than lay the book aside for the next day. Makes for some good thinking (at least that is what it did for me...). I can recommend it, but that also is, as I said earlier, a very personal thing.

      Feb 3, 06 10:25 am

      Good luck with the paper!

      Feb 3, 06 10:28 am

      i think coelho is to soft, to easy
      here is my lis:

      delirious new york - koolhaas
      a thousand plateues - deleuze
      informal -cecil balmond
      farmax - mvrdv
      the system of objects - jean boudrillard
      metapolis dictionarry
      verb - is more a magazine
      anestetics -neil leech
      3dstudio max tutorials
      a book about wood as a material

      Feb 3, 06 11:18 am
      Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke
      Europe Central William Vollman
      Gravity's Rainbow Thomas Pynchon
      Dhalgren Samuel Delany
      On The Natural History of Destruction W.G. Sebald
      U.S.A. Trilogy John Dos Passos
      Ada, or Ardour Vladimir Nabokov
      Berlin Alexanderplatz Alfred Doblin
      The Man Without Qualities Robert Musil
      The Book of Disquiet Fernando Pessoa
      The Death of Artemio Cruz Carlos Fuentes

      yep -- all literature
      Feb 3, 06 11:30 am

      thinking architecture- peter zumthor
      works- peter zumthor
      the art of structure- mies/werner blaser
      the artless word - mies/ fritz neumeyer
      talks with students- le corbusier
      towards a new architecture- le corbusier
      what will be has always been- louis kahn
      casa barragan (toto press)
      text of speech from barragan's pritzer prize nomination
      rural studio

      the three cornered world- natsume soseki
      glenn gould: writings
      if, not winter- anne carson
      tao te ching (new version from wood scrolls)
      poetry, language, thought- heidegger
      purity of heart- soren kierkegaard
      the rule of st. benedict
      the new testament- king james version

      Feb 3, 06 11:37 am

      perhaps this inspires a log entry why The Art of War would be near top of my list. Figure / Ground relationships, sighting issues, perceptual tomfoolery. Daniel is right, though, it's about how you take it.

      Raymonde: Glenn Gould : writings. Im curious: what does Glenn Gould write about? What did you find?


      Feb 3, 06 5:09 pm

      @Marlin: I think you are right. In the end it is really a lot about perception and the creation of it whether it be accurate or pretended, for your sake (motivating your own troops) or for the enemy (putting up wrong assumptions for him to act upon). So it can be even directly useful for us architects (aren't we after all the master bullshitters of all professions (lawyers maybe excepted :-) ). But that's only a small part for me, the whole thing is by far more complex. It's sad that I don't have the book with me here in the States otherwise I could give examples.

      @raymonde: I also would be interested what the master of the "Goldberg variations" wrote about.

      Feb 3, 06 5:32 pm

      Everyone's a bullshitter. It levels the playing field. ;)

      Feb 3, 06 8:05 pm
      Oana S.

      well, i can't make 10 out of them (at least not tonight - it's 3 o'clock)and the criteria won't be 'architectural'. i guess these are just books that inspire and even give me goose bumps.
      I couldn't imagine books without Garcia Marquez. I first fell for One Hundred Years of Solitude, but read everyone of his translated books (around 15 ) and loved all of them. i guess my fav is Love in the Time of Cholera.
      and also on top of the list:
      The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
      The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera
      Das Glasperlenspiel Hermann Hesse
      The Trial Kafka
      Don Quijote De La Mancha by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra
      a book by pascal bruckner, it's title might be 'bitter moon' but i'm not sure if this the one (i know the title in romanian and am not sure about the translation)
      and my latest editions are the soon-to-be-published Taschen 'icons:Web Design: Flash Sites' and 'web design index 6' by pepin press 'cause my bf's work will be there. :P

      Feb 3, 06 8:34 pm
      Oana S.

      i almost forget: try Le cercle des menteurs by Jean-Claude Carrière.

      Feb 3, 06 8:36 pm

      air guitar by dave hickey.

      Feb 3, 06 10:43 pm

      1. Taking Measures Across the American Landscape, Corner
      2. Pamphlet Architecture #12: Building Machines, McCarter
      3. House X, Eisenman
      4. Idea and Phenomenon, Holl
      5. Studies in Tectonic Culture, Frampton
      6. Design Thinking, Rowe
      7. The Story of Craft, Lucie-Smith
      8. Richard Meier Architect 2, ?
      9. Here is New York, White
      10. Lindbergh, Berg (Not an architecture book, but it rocks nonetheless.)

      Feb 6, 06 11:08 pm

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