Finding the Best Architecture Books for Beginners

Architecture is a vast field with many disciplines coming together, and with many (many) books to choose from!
Best Architecture Books for Beginners

Architecture is a vast field with many disciplines coming together to help improve the lives of people. Over the years many architecture books for beginners have been written that cover various aspects of this ever-evolving field and now with easy accessibility, all the information is just one shy of a click away.

This process of self-learning can help you understand your projects needs and widen your perspective as an architect.

So, if you are a young practicing architect, or a present/ future architecture student, perhaps someone who is in general interested in architecture. And a bit confused as to where to start looking!

Don’t worry we have accounted for all your needs and prepared a list of amazing books divided into helpful categories. This way you can find the perfect book to start as a beginner. Let’s begin -:

Architecture books for beginners

What books should I read if I want to be an architect?

Let’s start with the basics, once you have decided you want to pursue the great field of architecture the next logical step would be to learn more about it and how to become an architect. Here are a few books that will strike the right chord with you.

101 things I learned in architecture school by Matthew Frederick

This book can frequently be seen among students of architecture. The book contains 101 concise lessons with every concept explained in not more than two pages.

The lessons include basic ideas of how to draw lines and color theory with brief explanations and illustrations. Along with that the author beautifully capture the essence of being an architecture student.

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

This is a book that students of architecture will want to keep in the studio and in their bags. It is also a book they may want to keep out of view of their professors, for it expresses in clear and simple language things that tend to be murky and abstruse in the classroom...

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Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen

The book is considered nothing short of a feat in the way it explains the relationship between humans and spaces. The writing is clear & easy to understand thus can be understood by laymen.

The author treats the building as everyday objects and how we respond to them through our senses. In some chapters, he compares the experiences of historical buildings to that of the modern era.

Experiencing Architecture

Profusely illustrated with fine instances of architectural experimentation through the centuries, Experiencing Architecture manages to convey the intellectual excitement of superb design. From teacups, riding boots, golf balls, and underwater sculpture to the villas of Palladio and the fish-feeding pavilion...

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Archi-doodle the architect’s activity book by Steve Bowkett  

This activity book can be for anyone interested in buildings, filled with interactive challenges for the user from making skyscrapers to completing sections of a world-famous buildings. Each page of this 160 long A4-size book is a fun & unique take on architecture.

Archidoodle: The Architect's Activity Book

This innovative book is the first to provide a fun, interactive way to learn about architecture. Filled with an array of beautiful and elegant drawings, it poses all manner of architectural challenges for the user: from designing...

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Yes is more an Archicomic on architectural evolution by TASCHEN

Bjarke Ingles and his firm BIG is no stranger to anyone who is least bit interested in architecture. The radical ideas manifesto comes in the form of a comic book that showcases the architectural philosophy in simple yet succinct terms.

Inquest to find the equilibrium between utopia and pragmatic needs.

BIG. Yes is More.

This book by Bjarke Ingles (BIG) demonstrates how to present and break down your work in a way that can be easily understood. As an architect he is very good at bringing and creating architecture to and for the public. BIG not only inspires and demonstrates how...

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Introduction to architecture by Francis D.K. Ching

D.K. Ching is known for writing a series of books covering different topics of architecture. This book serves as an introduction for those new to architecture. The book contains all the essential texts and hand-rendered drawings of the author.

The easy-to-understand illustration shows the design of spaces, buildings, and cities.

Introduction to Architecture

Introduction to Architecture presents the essential texts and drawings of Francis D. K. Ching for those new to architecture and design. With his typical highly graphic approach, this is the first introductory text from Ching that surveys the design of spaces, buildings, and cities. In an easy to understand...

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Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne

The book has a rather unique take on architecture by focusing on the cultural aspects of the building. It avoids talking about the technical aspect and style of a structure but instead what makes them artistically and culturally important.

It is a fun read for those looking at more dimensions in architecture.

Architecture: A Very Short Introduction

This highly original and sophisticated look at architecture helps us to understand the cultural significance of the buildings that surround us. It avoids the traditional style-spotting approach and instead gives us an idea of what it is about buildings that moves us, and what it is that makes them important artistically and culturally. 

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Making marks: Architect’s sketchbook by Will Jones

Making marks by Will Jones urges you to take out your pencil & paper to produce some of the most successful designs.

As technological advancement has pushed new boundaries for architecture some aspects of creating an original idea never change and remain as it has always been.

Making Marks: Architects' Sketchbooks?The Creative Process

While digital technologies have pushed the boundaries of architectural creation, conceiving an original and appropriate design is as challenging as it has always been. As this book shows, however, a recent return to the basic act of putting pen or pencil to paper has produced some of the most successful buildings of the past decade.

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How do I start learning Architecture?

Architecture is a field where no matter how much you learn there are always new things you can explore that can baffle your imagination and change your perspective. Don’t be discouraged, you can always start with one. Here are a few to choose from -:

Why You Can Build It Like that: Modern Architecture Explained by John Zukowsky

100 iconic buildings of the modern era are selected including the works of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid that challenge the acceptable. The author look at the reason, design & purpose behind these controversial yet renowned buildings.

Why You Can Build it Like That /anglais

In Why You Can Build It Like That, John Zukowsky examines buildings from the past half century or so that pushed the boundaries of what was architecturally acceptable when they were built. 100 striking international examples of modern architecture are categorized into thematic chapters that reflect form as well as society. 

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The Fundamentals of Architecture by Lorraine Farrelly

The Fundamentals of Architecture intends to unravel the complexity of architecture into basic ideas that inform about architecture and its process.

It guides through history to contemporary theory and practice. It also talks about the process of the initial concept and how the surrounding context aids and influences the design’s solution.

The Fundamentals of Architecture: Second Edition

The Fundamentals of Architecture2nd Edition is an introduction to the basic ideas that inform architecture. It is intended to unravel the complexity of architecture to explain its process and make it more accessible. It guides students through the rich history of the discipline, and introduces aspects of contemporary theory and practice.

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Analyzing architecture by Simon Unwin

This book is a great insight for the students of architecture on the design strategies and analysis through drawing. He uses his own notebook to illustrate his idea and takes examples from around the world through different periods of history.

Analysing Architecture: The universal language of place-making (Analysing Architecture Notebooks)

Now in its fifth edition, Analysing Architecture has become internationally established as the best introduction to architecture. Aimed primarily at those studying architecture, it offers a clear and accessible insight into the workings of this rich and fascinating subject. With copious illustrations from his own notebooks, the author dissects examples from around the world and all periods of history to explain the underlying strategies in architectural design and show how drawing may be used as a medium for analysis.

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Twenty Buildings Every Architect Should Understand Simon Unwin

Fascinated by the design ideas and philosophy of some of the greatest architecture design the author tries to understand the entire process from inception to finish through case studies and then explains the underlying relationship architecture to humans; how it frames our lives and experience.

Twenty-Five Buildings Every Architect Should Understand

Twenty-Five Buildings Every Architect Should Understand is an essential companion to Simon Unwin’s Analysing Architecture, and part of the trilogy which also includes his Exercises in Architecture: Learning to Think as an Architect. Together the three books offer an introduction to the workings of architecture providing for the three aspects of learning: theory, examples and practice. 

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Studio Craft & Technique for Architects by Anne Gorman and Miriam Delaney

This hands-on book is often used by architecture students for its step-by-step techniques for perfecting the vital skills of drawing, model making, and surveying.

The book conveys architectural representation and the use of materials through clear diagrams and drawings. Recommended for design and building construction studios.

Studio Craft & Technique for Architects Second Edition

This one-stop handbook for architecture students provides step-by-step techniques for perfecting the vital skills of drawing, model making and surveying. It is a primer on the conventions of architectural representation and the use of materials. It also explains the primary elements of construction and structure from first principles, using clear diagrams and drawings.

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What are the basics of Architecture?

Nothing beats the basics. To master a discipline, the most important aspect is to learn and focus on the building blocks. These books will help you understand the fundamentals of architecture.

Form, Space, and Order by Francis D.K. Ching

For the last forty years, this beautifully illustrated book has been the introduction to basic vocabulary for architectural design. The fundamental concepts are explained with the help of images and easy-to-understand drawings.

The book is highly recommended by educationists all around the world.

Architecture: Form, Space, & Order

This is an excellent introduction into the basic vocabulary of architectural design that examines how form and space are ordered in the built environment. It includes sections on circulation, light, views, and site context, with contemporary examples of form, space, and order that encourage and promote a deeper understanding of architecture.

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

Divided into 26 principles easy to understand chapters the authors try to explain starting from the basic to more complex elements of architecture design to students and professionals. The book is a must-have for all those who are new to this profession and what to build a strong foundation.

The Language of Architecture

In order to master the foundation of architecture, you must first master the basic building blocks of its language; the definitions, function, and usage. The Language of Architecture provides students and professional architects with the basic elements of architectural design, divided into twenty-six easy-to-comprehend chapters.

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The poetics of space by Gaston Bachelard

The author is a French poet and through his book, he tries to explain architecture not by the purported origin but through the experiences of he had living in those homes and their context in nature.

His focus lies on the emotional and personal aspects of architecture and urges the architect to design based on experiences.

The Poetics of Space

Since its initial publication in 1958, The Poetics of Space has been a muse to philosophers, architects, writers, psychologists, critics, and readers alike. The rare work of irresistibly inviting philosophy, Bachelard’s seminal work brims with quiet revelations and stirring, mysterious imagery...

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The Elements of Modern Architecture by Antony Radford

The books contain an architectural analysis of the 50 greatest modern buildings from 1950 to the present. There are detailed drawn beautiful illustrations along with brief write-ups covering the response of the building both natural and cultural.

A great approach to enhance your understanding of buildings around the world.

The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

his ambitious publication, now revised and expanded, analyzes what makes buildings meaningful and enduring. Organized chronologically, influential buildings from the past seven decades are presented along with detailed consideration of their key characteristics: site and surrounding, space and massing, details and ornamentation, and fenestration and natural light...

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Theory

Many consider the theory to be the most boring aspect of any learning process and we agree. It doesn’t contain the thrill or the excitement but somehow these brilliant writers have managed to make it work. Do have a look: –

Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor

Written by Pritzker prize and RIBA gold medal winner, this book contains four essays written by the architect. The new editions include new essays which depict the observation, thoughts, and personal experiences of the architect in the Swiss valley.

Thinking Architecture, 3rd Edition

Winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture 2009, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is considered to be one of the most extraordinary and controversial architects working today.


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In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki

The essay is written by the Japanese novelist on the traditional aesthetics of Japan. The 16 sections explore architecture, food, and even toilet details. He uses the relationship between light and darkness to compare the western and Asian cultures.

In Praise of Shadows

This is an enchanting essay on aesthetics by one of the greatest Japanese novelists. Tanizaki's eye ranges over architecture, jade, food, toilets, and combines an acute sense of the use of space in buildings, as well as perfect descriptions of lacquerware under candlelight and women...

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The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

Inspired by the motto “beauty is the promise of happiness,” the book talks about the importance of beauty. The quality of the environment that surrounds us creates the difference between happiness and misery. The books ask the question what is a beautiful building? And navigates around this thought.

The Architecture of Happiness (Vintage International)

The Achitecture of Happiness is a dazzling and generously illustrated journey through the philosophy and psychology of architecture and the indelible connection between our identities and our locations.One of the great but often unmentioned causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment...

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Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor

What really constitutes an architectural atmosphere?

To this the author provide his own definition and talks about how he wants to create make everyone feel this atmosphere through his buildings and what is the way to achieve this through illustrated chapters of self-observation.

Atmospheres: Architectural Environments. Surrounding Objects

What really constitutes an architectural atmosphere, Peter Zumthor says, is this singular density and mood, this feeling of presence, well-being, harmony, beauty ... under whose spell I experience what I otherwise would not experience in precisely this way. Zumthors passion...

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Best architecture books for students

As a student of architecture the importance of self-education is immense, as in a class of many students there is only so much a teacher can discuss and thus it becomes important to gain knowledge on your own.

Due to the diverse nature of architecture, each and everyone can find their way through various resources. If you read irrespective of the motive your brain starts creating ideas and perspectives which will help you develop critical thinking.

So, if you are a student or a young professional who wants to enhance their potential, going through the below collection of most notable works over a variety of topics from renowned authors that will inspire you.

Best architecture books for students

FAQs

Can I teach myself architecture?

Some of the world’s most famous architects including F.L. Wright were not formally trained in the field of architecture this doesn’t mean they didn’t have the aptitude to be one as we all know how well their careers turned out.

But a lot has changed over the years and it is not just a matter of calling yourself an architect. Depending upon the country you want to practice architecture you need to obtain an approved license to be regarded as an architect.

That doesn’t mean you cannot practice the field, many people work in an architecture office under the supervision of a registered architect after they have gained the minimum experience depending upon the state, they can also apply for the license given that they pass the required exam.

If you want to become an architect without a degree, check out the belopw link for detailed information:

How to become an architect without a degree

How do I start learning architecture?

If you want to start learning architecture the books mentioned above are a great way to go about it, after which you can go through more books and learn new contemporary software’s that are being used in the Architecture and construction industry.

Get yourself an internship at an architecture office and start learning from the experts and gain experience.

In conclusion…

Spoiler alert! These books won’t make you a master architect but even better what they’ll do is lay a strong foundation and an aptitude for architectural design. This will help you widen your perspective and make you a better architect.

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