10 architecture and design books to read during COVID-19 quarantine

Here are 10 architecture and design books to read to evoke imagination as the coronavirus pandemic has forced social distancing, isolation and work from home scenarios.

by STIRworld Published on : Mar 27, 2020

STIR lists down 10 books that are thought-provoking, easy to read, and fuel to the creative mind of an architect, artist or designer while under social isolation.

1. The Architecture of Happiness (2006)

Author: Alain de Botton
Published by: Penguin UK

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton explores the fascinating hidden links between the buildings we live in and our long-term wellbeing. This book can be an introspective read during home quarantine, to analyse human surroundings and how human needs and desires manifest their ideals in architecture.

Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton Image Credit: Courtesy of Penguin UK

Find this book here.

2. Ways of Seeing (1972)

Author: John Berger
Published by: Penguin Random House

Ways of Seeing by John Berger has been a very influential book in the world of art, design and architecture. First published in 1972, it was inspired from a TV series broadcast on BBC Two. The book includes essays on feminist ideologies of popular culture, focusing particularly on how women were portrayed in advertisements and oil paintings.

Ways of Seeing by John Berger | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
Ways of Seeing by John Berger Image Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Find this book here.

3. Invisible Cities (1997)

Author: Italo Calvino
Published by: Penguin UK

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino has been a reference book for many academicians, artists, designers and philosophers alike. Due to the ambiguous, poetic, architectural and artistic nature of the book, this can be a great read to make one contemplate while under quarantine.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino Image Credit: Courtesy of Penguin UK

Find this book here.

4. Postmodern Architecture: Less is a Bore (2018)

Author: Owen Hopkins
Published by: Phaidon

Postmodern Architecture: Less is a Bore is a curated collection of Postmodern architecture, showcasing examples of the movement in all its forms from around the globe. The book takes its subtitle from Postmodernist icon Robert Venturi's spirited response to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's dictum that ‘less is more'.

Postmodern Architecture: Less is a Bore by Owen Hopkins | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
Postmodern Architecture: Less is a Bore by Owen Hopkins Image Credit: Courtesy of Phaidon

Find this book here.

5. The Fountainhead (1943)

Author: Ayn Rand
Published by: Bobbs-Merrill Company

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is a novel that garnered much attention towards the field of architecture during its times and for years thereon. It has been a book that every architect has read at some point in their lives but now would be a good time while staying at home, to go back to this book to re-perceive and re-analyse an understanding towards the famous and complex character of Howard Roark, the architect who demolishes his own building!

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand Image Credit: Courtesy of Creative Commons

Find this book here.

6. Between Silence and Light (2008)

Author: Louis I. Kahn and John Lobell
Published by: Penguin Random House

Between Silence and Light by Louis I. Kahn and John Lobell is an easy and light read. Taking forward the poetic expression of Kahn - the visionary architect and thinker of the modern era - Lobell has categorised each of his writings into short write-ups with a lucid title. The book evokes imagination that can be a great way to refresh and spark the thinking process to bring new ideas to the forefront. One can open any page of the book, read, ponder and return whenever one feels like, an insightful book to refer while under isolation.

Between Silence and Light by John Lobell | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
Between Silence and Light by John Lobell Image Credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random house

Find this book here.

7. Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women (2019)

Author: Jane Hall
Published by: Phaidon

Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women by Jane Hall features 180 buildings by female architects. The book is visual manifesto of more than 200 incredible buildings designed by women all over the world, including Julia Morgan, Eileen Gray and Lina Bo Bardi, and the best contemporary talent, from Kazuyo Sejima to Elizabeth Diller and Grafton Architects. This book is, above all else, a ground-breaking celebration of extraordinary architecture. This can be an inspiring read for the way women in architecture have impacted our environment and are here to continue to do so.

Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women by Jane Hall | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women by Jane Hall Image Credit: Courtesy of Phaidon UK

Find this book here.

8. Architecture: Conceptual to the Manifest (2012)

Author: Kulbhushan Jain
Published by: AADI

Architecture: Conceptual to the Manifest by Kulbhushan Jain is an in-depth analyses of the concepts, categorically manifested through various parameters, applied by various architects across the globe. Taking cues and examples from eminent projects and acclaimed architects, this book presents a thorough analyses of how a conceptual premise can impact the way architecture comes to be. For practicing architects, this read can turn them back to school and how one can develop concepts and bring them to life.

Conceptual to the Manifest by Kulbhushan Jain | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
Architecture: Conceptual to the Manifest by Kulbhushan Jain Image Credit: Courtesy of Meghna Mehta

Find this book here

9. A Pattern Language (1977)

Author: Christopher Alexander
Published by: Oxford University Press

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein with Max Jacobsen, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel, has given not only professionals but to other individuals as well cues to work with their neighbours to improve a town or a neighbourhood, design a house for themselves or work with colleagues to design an office, workshop or public building such as a school. This can be an interesting book to read referencing to the time we are living in today, redefining norms of living in a society and practicing social distancing. An interesting anecdote can be referred to with the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of India that said individuals without an architecture degree can practice architecture

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander Image Credit: Courtesy of www.patternlanguage.com

Find this book here.

10. The Thinking Hand (2009)

Author: Juhani Pallasma
Published by: Wiley

The Thinking Hand by Juhani Pallasma is a manifestation of the primal connection between the hand, body, mind, self and the artist. For an artist, designer, craftsman, architect and all others whose connect with their product is through the hand, this book brings about interesting philosophical, statistical and theoretical stories. It expresses how this connect between the artists’, of any genre, and his mind is the core to bringing imagination to life.

The Thinking Hand by Juhani Pallasma, 2009 | Architecture Books | Quarantine COVID-19  | STIRworld
The Thinking Hand by Juhani Pallasma, 2009 Image Credit: Courtesy of Meghna Mehta

Find this book here.

These 10 books to read can bring much solace to the idle mind while one is practising social distancing, isolation or work from home scenarios as a response to the current global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

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