15 Must Read Architecture Books for Anyone Who Loves Design

Are you an architect looking for inspiration?

Or perhaps you’re a lover of all things architectural and are hungry to get your hands on as much information as possible.

There are great websites you can reference to get information and an eyeful of amazing architectural imagery.

There’s something to be said about good old-fashioned architecture books though.

So we’ll take a look at fifteen classic architecture books that will quench your thirst for architecture and design knowledge from around the world.

1. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead isn’t an architecture book, per se.

Rather, it’s a work of fiction that is based loosely on the rise of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his unwillingness to compromise. That’s why you’d be hard-pressed to find an architect who hasn’t read this book.

It is really considered a quintessential read for any person in a creative endeavor though. It discusses the social barriers that impede the creative process and how believing whole-heartedly in one’s own creative spirit can break those barriers.

2. Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor

Architecture, like engineering, calls for a deep understanding of form and construction.

Architects, however, are asked to take it to the next level. They must give the building a sensuous connection to life.

In Thinking Architecture, author Peter Zumthor shares what it is that motivates him to design his buildings and appeal to the human senses.

3. Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture is considered to be one of the most classic architecture books on this list.

The author, often referred to as Corbu, lived during the Machine Age and both he and his architecture were inspired by the sheer and simple truth of machine design.

His stunning buildings are feats of architecture that were as truthful to their use as a machine was to its use. This was his aim.

4. The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

What is the relationship between humanity and the spaces we occupy? How does design influence our emotions?

These are some of the questions that drive architectural philosophy. And The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard explores these questions and many more.

Taking the time to sit with this book will bring new awareness of the architectural spaces we live and work in, and change the way you look at buildings.

5. The Language of Architecture: 26 Principles Every Architect Should Know by Andrea Simitch, Val Warke

Inspiration, beauty, and philosophy aside, you can’t be an architect without mastering the basic building blocks of its language.

This book breaks down definitions, functions, and usage to make architectural concepts and jargon easy to understand.

6. Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide by David Bergman

Sustainable is a serious buzzword these days — and with good reason.

As natural resources continuously get depleted, architects have an ethical responsibility to design structures that help to sustain them.

This book addresses specific considerations including material evaluation and specification, rainwater harvesting, gray water recycling, indoor air quality, solar orientation, green roofs, wind energy, passive heating techniques, daylighting, and ways to work with green building certification programs.

7. In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki

In Praise of Shadows is really more an essay on aesthetics than an architecture book.

But Japanese novelist Tanizaki has an architect’s eye as he surveys and describes different spaces — embellished by an acute sense of the use of space in buildings.

8. Architecture: A World History by Daniel Borden, Jerzy Elzanowski, Joni Taylor, Stephanie Tuerk

Wouldn’t it be great is if the entire history of architecture could be broken down into a pocket-sized book full of illustrations and packed with pertinent information?

With this book, it has. It not only gives an overview of architectural styles (in chronological order) but also has brief biographical sketches of important architects.

9. Architecture and Disjunction by Bernard Tschumi

This book proves that architecture is so much more than floor plans.

If you’re in the field of architecture, but not feeling particularly inspired, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Architecture and Disjunction.

It’ll force you to answer the more obtuse architectural questions in life. There’s even a chapter committed to taking the reader from a room, to outer space, then to consciousness. It’s trippy, to say the least.

10. Architectural Acoustics by David Egan

Architecture isn’t simply about visual aesthetics. Noise and sound in and around a building are huge considerations in design.

This book presents the principles of design for good hearing and freedom from noise. Plus it’s in a highly illustrated format that makes it easy to understand.

11. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order by Francis D.K. Ching

The gorgeously illustrated Architecture: Form, Space, and Order by Francis D.K. Ching has served as a classic introduction to the fundamental principles of architectural design for over 40 years.

Look for the updated and revised Fourth Edition that discusses the fundamental elements of space and form.

12. Tadao Ando: Conversations With Students by Tadao Ando

As Frank Lloyd Wright proved, becoming a successful architect demands tenacity and persistence.

Architect Tadao Ando recognized these were necessary in order to realize his dreams. Though his calm and serene designs would lead one to believe he shares that same demeanor, he once punched a construction worker for throwing a cigarette into a concrete mix.

13. Modern Architecture Since 1900 by William J.R. Curtis

Modern Architecture Since 1900 was published in 1982 and is now considered a contemporary classic book on architecture.

The book provides a comprehensive narrative with a clear historical outline and deep analysis and interpretation. It covers technical, social, economic, and intellectual developments as they relate to architecture around the world.

Yet, the author’s focus throughout the book remains on the individual architect and the qualities that make for lasting and timeless architecture.

14. The Ten Books Of Architecture by Vitruvius

Vitruvius was one of the earliest architects and this book goes WAY back.

Instrumental in both the creation and documentation of the Roman aqueducts as well as early surveying equipment, Vitruvius was also key in developing the concept of central heating and dewatering machines.

The Ten Books of Architecture are collectively considered the original prescription for building lasting structures and shelters. It’s one of the oldest guides on how humanity should construct its dwellings – and it remains relevant today.

15. World History of Architecture by Michael Fazio, et al

Written by a professor of architectural history and his colleagues, this weighty tome is the perfect resource for architecture students and was recently updated and expanded to cover more of the world’s architecture.

It gives a comprehensive history and detailed presentation of Western architecture as well as that from Russia, India, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, China, and Japan. It’s easy to see why this considered by many to be one of the best architecture books on the subject.

Expand Your Knowledge with Architecture Books

The preceding list of architecture books is far from comprehensive. But it’s a great place to start your architecture journey.

So start reading and get ready to impress others with your knowledge… and don’t forget to leave your comments below and recommend other books on architecture that our readers may enjoy.