8 architecture and design titles to add to your reading list

From the home to the workplace, these books are sure to unravel the riddles behind your favourite architectural creations.

Architecture is an art form that tells stories about the cultures and societies of yesteryear 

About Architecture
Hugh Pearman

Whether you are an architectural novice or professional, Hugh Pearman presents an engaging introduction to how architecture shapes our lives. Bringing readers on a visit to 55 buildings throughout history, About Architecture explains the ins and outs of infrastructure, from how cities are planned to how we interact with others in shared spaces. From offices to museums, Pearman expounds various design styles and functions that have evolved with civilisation over countless years, cutting to the core of how we employ the art to complement our ever-changing lifestyles.


Calm Living
Olga Trusova

Home is where the heart is. Our spaces reflect our state of mind, and vice versa. When life goes haywire, it is easy to let chaos and mess intrude our havens. Luckily, designer and Stanford instructor Olga Trusova’s first book highlights the importance of even the simplest of design choices when creating a tranquil home. Calm Living introduces readers to the foundational principles of making serenity, regardless of the room and resources at hand. By using light, colour, sound, furniture and more, this guide encourages one to think outside the box and be inventive with how to bring peace into one’s abode.


Serious Fun
Melanie van der Hoorn

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a video game? Serious Fun delves into the design of virtual buildings that are conceived with the help of real-life architects, urban designers and artists. In this book, the way players interact with virtual spaces and structures is analysed from a technical and architectural standpoint. From dollhouses to SimCity, Melanie van der Hoorn explores the messages these in-game spaces convey and the real-world issues they replicate that subsequently tell us more about how to improve what we build in the physical world.


Animal Architecture
Paul Dobraszczyk

A cat curled up by the windowsill, a swallow’s nest tucked in the rafters, a spider web in the corner of the ceiling — the lesser-touched nooks and crannies of our homes often become refuge for non-human housemates. Yet, these little guests are seldom thought about in the design process. In Animal Architecture, Paul Dobraszczyk calls attention to the living entities with which we share our spaces, knowingly or not, and how we can alter our design process to build around them. This book argues for architecture that fosters harmony and embraces nature’s presence rather than fights against it.


Modern Architecture
Jonathan Glancey

Not able to travel around the world any time soon to check off your list of building landmarks? Then this is the book for you. Written by renowned architecture expert Jonathan Glancey and boasting detailed illustrations and visuals, it is a celebration of contemporary design. Tour the awe-inspiring curves of the Sydney Opera House, get butterflies from the sheer height of The Shard and more, this guide to modern structures and architecture styles explores more than 500 buildings that have graced the world’s most famous skylines — an immersive treat for the wanderlusting soul.


The Architecture of Disability
David Gissen

A radical critique on the way mainstream architecture is practised and taught, The Architecture of Disability by Parsons professor of architecture and urban design, David Gissen, brings attention to the ableism that has tainted the practice for centuries. Through study of historical sites, landscape designs and urban spaces, the text unpacks the functionalist approach to disability accommodation in architecture and how conventional architectural styles harm minority groups and aggravate other forms of social injustice. This book advocates the reconceptualisation of architecture as we know it and the incorporation of disability access at a blueprint level.


Future Public Spaces
Roland Krebs + Stefan Mayr

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Vienna-based studio Superwien was commissioned to develop innovative design solutions in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Maputo, Mozambique; and Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. The research plan studied the local governments’ ability to undertake participatory urban design processes to alleviate the impact of disasters. Using this case study as a foundation, the book highlights fundamental yet often overlooked rules of construction that affect how humans live together. It explores how effective architecture addresses the specific needs of its inhabitants, in order to construct spaces that serve communities even in times of crisis.


Everyday Modernism
Chang Jiat-Hwee, Justin Zhuang + Darren Soh

In the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore experienced a burst of development, fuelled by a desire to protect its newfound independence. By the early 21st century, the country had become a global example, internationally known for its modernity. Modernism built Singapore into the force it is today and has become deeply integrated in the lives and homes of its citizens. Featuring in-depth essays brought to life by hundreds of archival images, illustrations and contemporary photos by photographer Darren Soh, this book dives into a rich history told through the city’s landscape, demystifying the
Southeast Asian power brick by brick.


This article first appeared on July 31, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.


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