As I have come close to the end of my degree, I begin to ponder over the never ending reading lists, handed to me by my tutors, lecturers and fellow colleges; all of whom enthusiastically recall how so-and-so book has helped them with designing, thinking, drawing, modeling,…the list goes on.But this only makes things more difficult for me as I come to put together one for myself.
I do not blame them, for I am sure that each book had its moment of magic. But this does put forward a task for me to device a plan of action, to categorize the different types of books and to compose several sub-reading lists. Only then would I be able to orientate myself within this sea of book titles and authors.
The Reading list bank has a number of books, with different approaches(technical, theoritics) and focuses(material, landscape, cities).And so, to begin with, the reading list is separated into several basic categories:
- General scope
- How to/Technical
- case-study orientated
As I write these categories, it is interesting to note that whilst I could list books according to themes (space, landscape, concrete), it would be far more useful to list them according the the level of depth each book provides. That way, I’m able to gain a strong foundation in anyone particular topic before embarking on a deeper, more specialized one.
In fact, when I reflect on what books I have used time and time again over the past few years, I find that the majority of them are of the ‘general scope category’ these books are to eventually become My Keep list:
The complete handbook of Architecture: From the first civilizations to the present day by Patrick Nuttgens and Richard Weston.
This was perhaps my first Architecture related book. The book is a small, pocket sized book that comprehensively outlines all the basic features of buildings from different eras and cultures. Brief enough for general reading and informative enough as the start of an in depth study. This is perhaps my starting point for every history essay I’ve written during my degree.
Architect’s Pocket Book by Baden-Powell,C. Hetreed, J. and Ross, A. is also a pocket sized book. The book compiles samples of information from the metric building spec (the big red book) such as door widths, wheelchair access, vehicle rotation… a useful book when designing anything.
Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte is an amusing book. The definition of reading is re-examined as you learn to ‘read’ images, diagrams and graphs. An exerciser on thought, design and presentation.
Collage City by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter is perhaps not the easiest book to read in my list. In fact, reading this book would require me to have a note book and a search engine on standby. But the complexity of ideas and intertwining references makes this a challenging but hugely rewarding read. Every single page is condensed with theories and ideas, from Hegel to Wagner to Le Corbusier, each name sparking a study of its own and a relation to the other.
Interaction with Architectural space: The Campi of Venice by Alban Janson and Thorsten Burklin is one of my all time favorite book to read. This Case-study orientated book uses Venice to explore ideas of space and movement. At first, this book may be too specialized. But the manner in which it is presented allows the process to be implemented on other projects.
The latest book in my collection, Big Ideas in brief by Ian Crofton is another pocket sized book which tries to summarize basic well known concepts under themes such as Philosophy, Politics, Religion and the Arts. Like the handbook of Architecture, there is enough information in this book to set up the bare minimum knowledge required.