Training to be an architect is a long process comprising periods of University study and professional practice. As we quickly approach the time of year where we look to take on new students for their first year out in practice, we asked the team what books they would recommend for the new students about to join us.
Design as Art - Bruno Munari
The transition from University to the world of work can be daunting. Your mindset has to shift from being focussed solely on design, to considering all of the other more mundane parts of the working life of an architect (many of which you will have had no idea even existed!). It is easy to get bogged down by the 'boring stuff', so I think it is hugely important to keep reading - to keep fuelling the inquisitive designer within. This book is really a collection of short, easy to digest essays about basic design ideas that can be applied to almost any field of design. - Adam
Sketching for Architecture and Interior Design - Stephanie Travis
The importance of being able to sketch is heavily emphasised in undergraduate degrees, but it can be easy to fall out of the habit when working in a busy office. Being able to sketch is crucially important for developing and communicating your ideas so I’d recommend reading Sketching for Architecture and Interior Design by Stephanie Travis. Perhaps even using it as an aid to do a sketch a day. The book is made up of freehand sketches, shown as a series of steps that demonstrate concepts. It takes the reader from the simple three-dimensional forms of furniture, to interiors, to complex building exteriors and cityscapes. - Chloe
The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
This book was published in the USA in 1943 and tells the story of an architect by the name of Howard Roark who is presented by the author as a heroic symbol of masculinity and creative authenticity. His attitude and actions illustrate what seems to have become society's perception of the stereotypical architect. A perception that the profession has been trying hard to shed ever since. - Randal
Information is Beautiful - David McCandless
One of the biggest differences between undergraduate and postgraduate work from my experience is presentation skill. There seems to be an inherent need to get as much information on the wall as possible in the early years of Architectural Education. However, a well thought out presentation gives each individual drawing an opportunity to express a piece of the story. Information is Beautiful is primarily a graphic design book, but the way it explores how information can be displayed can be transferred to any design presentation. Graphics or Drawings need space to transfer their information in a manner that is easily understandable and into individual pieces in their own right. It sounds counter intuitive but giving less information, cutting away the noise, can often better explain a scheme! - Liam
Think Straight - Darius Foroux
There are plenty of important things that we’re not taught at architecture school. Or school. Or anywhere else for that matter. The assumption seems to be that we either know, or will acquire or will set off to find about these ‘other' things.
I’m talking about things like ‘how to think’, ‘how to learn’, ‘how to get better at something’, ‘how to manage your time’, ‘how to plan your career’ and, if I could think straight, no doubt many others.
This small book, which is easily read in one sitting, doesn’t tell you how to do any of those things. But it does give some clues and some personal insight as to why they’re important. Hopefully, it will be a catalyst to investigating further and teaching yourself what’s been missed. - Andy
The Little Book of Mindfulness – Dr Patrizia Collard
Mindfulness is much talked about and you could be forgiven for dismissing it as ‘a bit alternative’. It is a very simple form of meditation but don’t let that word put you off.
The dictionary definition of mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
I used this book with children in the classroom to teach simple mindfulness techniques as tools for life, that can have many benefits including reducing levels of stress and anxiety, increasing focus and self-regulation, and improving performance and sleep, among others. It is full of simple, quick exercises that you can pop into your everyday life. Whatever stage you are at in life periods of calm (even 5 minutes) when you can detox your mind and be appreciative of ‘now’ can have a huge positive impact. - Dawn