Top 10 Most Inspiring Architecture Books

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Architecture is a profession that has inspired great books as much as it has inspired great buildings. Architects, such as Vitruvius and Le Corbusier, have written books which continue to influence us to this day, while novelists such as Italo Calvino have stretched the limits of imagination in creating cities of the mind. In our latest article, our team has put together 10 architectural books which we consider to be particularly inspiring.

The Ten Books Of Architecture by Vitruvius

The oldest book on our list, and perhaps the most influential, The Ten Books of Architecture was written by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, a Roman architect and engineer who lived and died over 2000 years ago. Vitruvius provided guidance on the correct design and construction of classical buildings and his precepts were followed faithfully for centuries which helped to spread the Greco-Roman architectural style across the world.

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

The Poetics of Space is an inspiring work of architectural philosophy which explores the relationship between humanity and ‘space’, and how design can stimulate our emotions. It’s a thought-provoking and engaging read.


Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier 

As one of the most influential architecture books of the 20th century, Towards a New Architecture, written by one of the era’s most famous architects, laid out the manifesto for a modern architecture that reflected and celebrated the realities of the ‘Machine Age’.


S,M,L,XL by Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau

S,M,L,XL is a truly unique architecture book, and was revolutionary in its appearance in 1995. The book celebrates the manic unpredictability of creativity and reveals much of the working processes of its famous authors. In our opinion, this is a must-read.


Concrete by William Hall ed.

This stunning book reveals the beauty of a much-maligned material. Concrete takes a look at some of the world’s most fascinating concrete structures from ancient Rome to the present day.

Translations from Drawing to Building by Robin Evans

Robin Evans was a highly insightful historian of architecture whose numerous essays dealt with a wide range of topics including aspects of geometry, the evolution and development of building and military architecture. Translations from Drawing to Building compiles eight of Evans’ most stimulating essays, written over a 20 year period from 1970 to 1990, including “Mies van der Rohe’s Paradoxical Symmetries”.

Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

In the Architecture of Happiness, popular philosopher Alain de Botton examines the role of physical environment in relation to human happiness and the connection between identity and location. Throughout the book, de Botton explores the idea that where we are, influences who we are.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

Described by the The New York Times as “perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning’, The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a cutting critique of American urban planning in the 1950s, which author Jane Jacobs held responsible for the decline of many American towns and cities.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

The only novel on our list, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities has taken on something approaching cult status among architects in recent years. The book is framed as a conversation between explorer Marco Polo and ageing emperor Kubla Khan. Calvino pushes the limits of imagination through his descriptions of invisible cities, as regaled by Marco Polo. The book recently inspired a series of illustrations, allowing us to glimpse how these ‘invisible cities’ might look in reality.

101 Things I learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick

A perfect book for architects old and new, whether as a primer or a reminder, 101 Things I learned in Architecture School explains in simple language the foundations of an architectural education. The book covers basic concepts such as ‘how to draw a line’, as well as more complex topics such as colour theory.

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