on building

John Holt always said that if you were interested in something, you could find someone who was working in the field and ask to learn directly from them. that learning could happen outside of formal schooling. or that the whole world could be your school.

i’m realizing that my experience–limited as it is–with building and architecture has followed just that pattern. we went out to the desert and built a cob house, learning with our bodies and our minds. and now i have an architect for a neighbor. i asked for a reading list and this is what Don sent along.  first a lovely quote about how to set about beginning, then the list of books:

You can read about architecture all day (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but, like music, architecture needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

There’s no substitution for being in great buildings. Wherever you go, there are great buildings. Drive to Mt. Angel and walk through Aalto’s library – the most wonderful building in Oregon… or Washington… or California. Take a sketchbook or a camera.

Having said that, aside from history and theory books… seek out books with photos, plans and sections… the next best thing to being there. Just photos will not give you an idea of the overall concept. Just plans and sections are too dry.

–Robert Hayden

Picture Books

Great Streets by Allan B. Jacobs                                                                                                                                                                                   Not-So-Big House by Sarah Susanka*
Rural Studio by Andrea Oppenheimer Dean & Timothy Hursley*
Architecture Without Architects by Bernard Rudofsky
Courtyards by John Reynolds*

History Books

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling byRoss King
Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King*
The Prodigious Builders by Bernard Rudofsky
The Life & Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

Theory Books

Gentle Architecture by Malcolm Wells
A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe by Christopher Alexander