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5 inspiring architecture and design books that span decades of innovation

Embark on a visual and intellectual journey through architectural excellence and rethinking of tropical living.

5 inspiring architecture and design books that span decades of innovation

Dive into the captivating world of architecture with these five thought-provoking books that span decades of design innovation. From celebrating 20 years of architectural mastery in tropical living to redefining social spaces in an ever-changing world, these publications offer a rich tapestry of ideas and inspiration. 

Discover how architects harmonise Modernism with nature, explore the delicate balance between universal ideals and local contexts, and embark on an aspirational journey through the realm of luxury living. These books not only showcase architectural brilliance but also provide valuable insights into the ever-evolving world of design.

Rethinking the Tropical House: 20 Years of RT+Q Architects by Luo Jingmei

The book is a captivating celebration of two decades of architectural innovation by Singapore’s esteemed practice, RT+Q. Known for its exquisite residential designs blending vernacular and Modernist influences, RT+Q’s portfolio of over 170 projects in Southeast Asia reflects the practice’s mastery in harmonising tropical environments with elegant, permeable spaces. 

Rethinking the Tropical House book cover
Book cover. Image courtesy of Thames & Hudson

This monograph showcases 29 of RT&Q’s finest homes since it was founded in 2003, featuring lush vegetation, mezzanine living, and tactile materials. The book not only pays homage to the practice’s award-winning designs, but also offers readers an aspirational journey through the tropical luxury living landscape – a timely exploration as the world seeks comfort and connection amid the pandemic.

Spice Terraces by RT+Q
Spice Terraces. Photography by Mason Kawana.

Included: Architecture as a Means for a New Future by Mei architects and planners

Published by nai010, the publication is a captivating exploration of architecture’s role in addressing ecological and social imperatives in our evolving world. This beautifully designed book, akin to a cookbook for innovative design, offers a rich tapestry of ideas and ingredients to shape the architecture of tomorrow. 

books on architecture Included_photo credit RKeus
Photography by RKeus

Available in Dutch and English, the book showcases 25 years of the firm’s work that highlights its profound commitment to environmental consciousness. Stellar projects like the modular Smarthouse and the eco-friendly SAWA residential building are featured. Mei architects and planners’ expertise in adaptive reuse and architectural innovation is evident in transformative projects like Schiecentrale and Fenix I. The book provides valuable insights into the firm’s design process, touching on various techniques and underlying themes, making it a valuable resource for students and architects alike. 

A source of inspiration and a call to action for building a more inclusive and sustainable future, Included is now available as an open-access e-book in order to make it accessible to all. Download here.

Book included_photo credit RKeus
Photography by RKeus

Social Space by CLOU architects

Social Space is a comprehensive exploration of CLOU architects’ vision, spanning over 500 pages. The book delves into its dedication to redefining social spaces in the context of evolving lifestyles, technological advances, and societal changes. Organised into four chapters, it offers a deep dive into the practice’s design philosophy and commitment to crafting exceptional global social spaces.

books on architecture Social Space by CLOU architects
Images courtesy of CLOU architects

In a world increasingly reliant on e-commerce, Social Space emphasises the irreplaceable value of physical gathering places and its vital role in enriching communities and urban dynamic, especially in the post-pandemic era. CLOU architect’s project portfolio from 2020 to early 2022 showcases groundbreaking designs across retail, leisure, and community spaces. Notable projects include innovative designs in Chengdu and Wuhan, green transformations in Hohhot, and contemporary renovations in Beijing.

CLOU architect’s also ventures into leisure and education, merging sports, entertainment, and retail in projects like the Wuhan Snow Park. The practice’s dedication to putting human beings at the forefront of design is evident throughout its work, making Social Space a testament to its commitment to shaping a better world through architecture.

books on architecture Social Space by CLOU architects
Image courtesy of CLOU architects

Byoung Cho: My Life as an Architect in Seoul by Byoung Cho

Byoung Cho: My Life as an Architect in Seoul is a captivating addition to the My Life as an Architect series, delving into the transformative work of celebrated Korean architect Byoung Cho. With over three decades of architectural practice, Cho’s profound realisation that “people are everything” underscores his architectural journey. His designs in the densely populated city of Seoul are deeply influenced by Korea’s aesthetic traditions, embracing simplicity and sustainability. 

The book vividly portrays 29 influential Seoul buildings and districts, complemented by Cho’s drawings and striking tinted photographs. Cho’s insightful writings, including a letter to his younger self during the pandemic, offer a unique perspective on his architectural philosophy rooted in the Korean ideals of emptiness and simplicity. This book is a multi-layered exploration of Seoul and an invaluable insight into Cho’s architectural world.

Concrete Jungle: Tropical Architecture and its Surprising Origins by gestalten

Concrete Jungle delves into the intriguing interplay between Modernism and tropical environments, with a focus on residential architecture in countries like India, Vietnam, Brazil, and Mexico. Through striking photography, the book unveils how concrete structures blend harmoniously with lush greenery, offering a fresh perspective on the coexistence of rational design principles and tropical settings. 

books on architecture Concrete Jungle

The book touches on broader architectural debates about universalism versus local context and explores Modernism’s role in nation-building. Featuring renowned architecture firms like Formzero, Studio MK27 and Vo Trong Ngia Architects, the book underscores the reclamation of unique local identities against the backdrop of Western universalism. A relevant and visually captivating exploration, Concrete Jungle immerses readers in the world of tropical modernity. For a more comprehensive book review, click here.

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