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3 Design Books You Need to Read Right Now

From journeys across the South Pacific to tales of Japanese architecture, these books take an in-depth look at how architecture can enrich our lives. Ashley Tucker writes.

3 Design Books You Need to Read Right Now


June 15th, 2016

1. Ecological Urban Architecture: Qualitative Approaches to Sustainability by Thomas Schroepfer
Ecological Urban Architecture by Thomas Schroepfer takes an in-depth look at architectural and infrastructural design approaches to sustainable urban development. The book identifies fields in which architectural and urban designers can use their creative skills and methods to achieve sustainable results on the urban scale.

Each section explores emerging methods and tools for ecological design, looking at how these have started to infiltrate current practice. While many of these methods resist or offer strong opposition to being standardised and replicable, they illustrate how ecological urban architectures perform within their own setting and their potential for future growth and adaptation.

A series of case studies spotlight projects that engages social and environmental sustainability, and looks at its ideals and ideas, tools and implementation and then offers a critique of the project. Many of the projects reveal that today’s focus is on energy reduction, alternative urban transport, and the addition of green spaces, which is supported by attitudes on community formation and development, engagement with open space and green infrastructure and architectural resolutions of addressing environmental measures.

This book is for anyone interested in sustainability, architecture and humanity’s place within the environment.

2. Architecture in the South Pacific: The Ocean of Islands by Jennifer Taylor and James Conner
While the South Pacific is justly famed for its white beaches and vibrant ocean life, it is also home to some of the world’s most striking architecture, found in a dynamic region of beauty housing vibrant communities with rich artistic cultures that have attracted travellers for centuries. Conditioned by the dynamics of its remote location and imported design influences, the architecture is expressive of the emergence of a contemporary South Pacific identity.

Written by Jennifer Taylor and James Conner, Architecture in the South Pacific: The Ocean of Islands offers an enlightening picture to those who are new the ‘Isles of Paradise’, and to those who wish to discover them afresh through the perspective of exceptional architecture. The rich imagery presented in the dozens of colour photographs, most of which have never before appeared in print, and the informed and engaging essays offer a new and unique look at the history and culture of the Pacific Islands.

This book is a pioneering study of the region’s development – from the arrival of architectural styles from Europe to the emergence of a unique and constantly evolving architectural identity fashioned by the remote location, incomparable setting and distinctive ethnic mix of inhabitants. It tells the overlooked story of the buildings and towns of the small South Pacific islands engendered by the European presence, which forms a major focus of the study. In addition, traditional Pacific buildings, practices and expressions are looked at in great detail.

A series of themed essays present the story of architectural development in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Samoa and American Samoa, and French Polynesia.

Presented in full colour, this book will appeal to architects, students and armchair tourists – to anyone interested in discovering and learning about the inimitable islands of the South Pacific. It offers just a snapshot from a possible series taken across the buildings within the evolving milieu of the people in the South Pacific, inhabiting one of the most beautiful but volatile environments on earth.

3. Nurturing Dreams: Collected Essays on Architecture and the City by Fumihiko Maki
Celebrated architect Fumihiko Maki has put together a collection of his own essays that document the evolution of architectural modernism and his fifty-year intellectual journey in his book Nurturing Dreams: Collected Essays on Architecture and the City.

In this book, Maki has brought to his writings on architecture a perspective that is both global and uniquely Japanese. Born in Tokyo, educated in Japan and the United States, and principal of an internationally acclaimed architectural practice, Maki has been at the forefront of his profession for decades, thus providing each essay with an overarching sense of personal and professional recollection and reflection.

Throughout the text, Maki reflects on his observations of Tokyo as a child, his exposure to modern architecture and his memories of certain buildings, which reveals his strength as a sharp observer and his tendency towards mild retrospective nostalgia. In addition, each essay deals with an issue that concerned him from early in his career until today. Many of his essays were originally published in Japanese but now appear for the first time in English translation.

Maki’s collection of essays in Nurturing Dreams are selected to appeal to practicing architects, to students and scholars of modern architecture and urban theory, as well as to a general audience of readers.

Image via State Library of Queensland.

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