(Alphabetical)

Before you begin ...

BAIRD G, Sustainable Buildings in Practice: What the Users Think, Routledge, Abingdon, 2010. A real-world perspective based on extensive and indefatigable research.

BARTHOLOMEW, David., Building on Knowledge: Developing Expertise, Creativity and Intellectual Capital in the Construction Professions, Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

BLACKMORE C., The Client's Tale: the role of the client in building buildings, RIBA Publications, 1990. An insightful (and rare) account from the client's point of view, and written in plain English for good measure!

BRAND S., How Buildings Learn: what happens after they are built, Penguin, 1994. A BBC documentary series in 1997 based on the same idea (see below).. This book is a must-read-at-all costs. Ridiculously, the British edtion was banned for a while because it upset a designer, then it was re-issued with some of the good bits missing.

Streamed videos

How Buildings Learn 1 Flow

How Building Learn 2 The Low Road

How Buildings Learn 3 Built for Change

How Buildings Learn 4: Unreal Estate

How Buildings Learn 5: The Romance of Maintenance

How Buildings Learn 6: Shearing Layers.

CAMPBELL J., Grammatical Man: information, entropy, language and life, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982. The section on redundancy and constraints in information theory are especially good (and relevant!).

COLE, Ray and LORCH, Richard (eds), Buildings, Culture and Environment: informing global and local practices, Blackwell Publishing, 2004. This is one for headbangers who are already well up the learning curve. It tackles topics most others don't even dare think about!

COOPER, Alan, The Inmates are Running the Asylum: why high tech products drive us crazy and how to restore the sanity, (ISBN 0-672-31649-8) April 1999. This is mainly about software, but has some excursions outside computing. It has a good-ish chapter on Usability (chapter 12 Desperately Seeking Usability).

COOPER, Gail, Air-conditioning America, London: Johns Hopkins University Press (1998) A classic of its kind, Should be required reading for all building designers.

HAWKEN, Paul, LOVINS, Amory and LOVINS, Hunter, Natural Capitalism, Earthscan Publications, London, 1999 Review by Adrian Leaman for Building Services Journal. Not so sure about the title, which is more catchy than meaningful, but good stuff to be found here. See also Factor Four.

HELLER Robert., Culture Shock: the office revolution, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1990. A decade down the road this is great hindsight reading, especially the parts that grapple with the effects of IT. The era is pre-internet, but e-mail is just on the map. The chapter on Rank Xerox is especially fascinating. Shows how hard it is to make solid predictions, even in a relatively short timescale.

HELLMAN, Louis. Architecture for Beginners, A Writers and Readers Documentary Comic Book, 1984. The best short introduction to architecture, bar none!

Hellman before window graphic.

Hellman after window graphic

Moral: Don't create more problems than you solve

From page 141

IGNATIEV Michael., The Needs of Strangers, Vintage Books, London, 1984. Extensively drawing from King Lear, this lucidly argues that natural justice should be based on needs not rights. A good starting point for an exploration of the theory of needs in the context of the modern welfare state. Relevant to buildings? Of course!

LIDDELL HART BH., Strategy, Meridian Books, 1991. Hard to find classic on military strategy, but relevant to buildings.

MACMILLAN, Sebastian, Designing Better Buildings, Quality and Value in the Built Enviornment, Spon Press, 2004 The vexed questions of quality and value are let loose here. It's a bit unnerving to see portmanteau terms like 'design', 'value' and 'quality' all in the same sentence!

MANKOFF, Robert, The New Yorker Book of Technology Cartoons, Bloomberg Press, 2000 This comes with a CD Rom with all the cartoons. We'd put one up for you to see, but the threats of copyright infringement are too scary.

MARKUS Tom, Buildings and Power: freedom and control in the origin of modern building types, Routledge, 1993. Tom Markus was a pioneer of building evaluation studies in the 1970s.

NORMAN, Donald, The Psychology of Everyday Things, New York: Basic Books, 1988, now retitled as The Design of Everyday Things in a later edition. The best starter book on usability.

NORMAN, Donald, Things That Make Us Smart: defending human attributes in the age of the machine, New York: Addison Wesley, 1993

NORMAN, Donald The Invisible Computer, MIT Press, 1998 UK reviewers have been a bit sniffy about this, possibly because of mass slaughter of sacred cows.

NIELSEN, Jakob Usability Engineering, Academic Press, 1993. The best from the Nielsen stable.

PERROW, Charles, Normal Accidents: Living with high-risk technologies, New York: Basic Books, 1984 The classic on technological fallibility in complex systems, yet to be upstaged.

ROAF, Sue (with Andrew Horsley and Jajat Gupta), Closing The Loop: benchmarks for sustainable buildings, RIBA Enterprises, London 2004 Although there is not much about benchmarks here, this is a useful potboiler.

ROBSON Colin, Real World Research, Oxford: Blackwell, 1993, Second edition 2002. This is the methodology book to read if you want to carry out practical studies in real situations. Practical in an academic sort of way. The second edition is a thorough update and has more material than the first.

SCHWARTZ, Peter, The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, John Wiley, 1991, 1996. The classic on scenario writing. Bit dry, though.

SCHNELLING, Thomas, Micromotives and Macrobehaviour, WW Norton and Co, 1978. 0-393-09009-4. Economist with attitude!

SIMON Herbert, The Sciences of the Artificial, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, 1969. The chapter on The Architecture of Complexity (ch 4) is well worth arm-wrestling.

TENNER Edward., Why Things Bite Back: New technology and the revenge effect, Fourth Estate: London, 1996. Excellent cautionary tales. Coins and explains "revenge effects". This is a must read.

VALE Brenda and Robert, Architecture On The Carpet: The Curious Tale of Construction Toys and the Genesis of Modern Buildings Note double entendre in the title!


WADDINGTON CH, Tools for Thought. Out of print classic on how to think with models and statistics without being indoctrinated by them.

WEIZSÄCKER, E, LOVINS, A and LOVINS L, Factor Four: Doubling wealth, halving resource use, Earthscan, 1997, May A bit heavy on hyperbole, but plenty of facts and examples as well. See also Natural Capitalism (qv) for the mystery of the disappearing iguana.

WOOLEY, Tom, Natural Building: a guide to Materials and Techniques, Crowood Press, Marlborough,Wiltshire, 2006. ISBN 1 86126 841 6

YOUNG Michael, The Metronomic Society: Natural Rhythms and Human Timetables, Thames and Hudson, London, 1988. One of our favourites. Under-estimated (possibly because completely jargon-free, or perhaps because bookshops never classified it properly - we found it in the Health and Beauty section).

Oldie magazine From The Oldie

Oldie magazine From The Oldie