25 Architecture and Design Books to Read This Spring

From wood structures to urban spaces, here are the books Metropolis editors recommend for your reading list or book club this season.

From an all-encompassing look at wood structures over the past thousand years to an in-depth analysis of the role of urban spaces in politics, here are 25 books Metropolis editors recommend for your reading list or book club this spring.



Written and designed by William Hall
Phaidon, 224 pp., $50

One hundred and seventy structures from the past thousand years are featured in William Hall’s latest book, Wood, where work by globally renowned architects from Renzo Piano to Tadao Ando and Peter Zumthor is displayed in a conversation-comparison manner. Accompanying each project, including Piano’s Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre and Le Corbusier’s Mediterranean log cabin Le Cabanon, are a slew of comments, along with analyses and photographs that prompt readers to draw their own conclusions.

Lost Futures: The Disappearing Architecture of Post-War Britain

Written by Owen Hopkins
Designed by Jon Kielty
Royal Academy Publications,
128 pp., $25

Lost Futures is a detailed look at buildings and structures erected between 1945 and 1979 in Britain that, while once reflective of the progressive mindset of the society, have since been demolished or altered beyond recognition. Hopkins details the process of their creation and their eventual destruction in a collection of photo- graphs and research.

Mobitecture: Architecture on the Move

Written by Rebecca Roke
Designed by Akiko Kanna
of StudioKanna
Phaidon, 320 pp., $25

Mobitecture is a visual ode to life on the move. Divided into eight chapters, this book thematically explores mobile forms of architecture— some strange, some practical, and some out of this world. This all encompassing collection looks at the interconnection between art and mobility via more than 250 images of typologies that roll, inflate, unfold, and pop up.

Ornament Is Crime: Modernist Architecture

Written by Albert Hill
and Matt Gibberd
Designed by Hans Stofregen
Phaidon, 224 pp., $50

In this look at Modernist architecture, Ornament Is Crime argues that Modernism need no longer be tied to traditional definitions. It is a predominantly visual piece composed of photos and essays tracing the lineage of modern architecture through canonical works by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, as well as work from some of the best architects of the 21st century.

Solid Objectives: Order, Edge, Aura

Written by Florian Idenburg,
Jing Liu, and Ilias Papageorgiou
Designed by Geoff Han
Lars Müller Publishers,
484 pp., $49

“Objects have personalities and interact in intimate ways—they communicate and embody political agency. As we increasingly occupy the available air on this planet, it seems inevitable that we demand of our volumes, big or small, to not only address function but also evoke new narratives,” writes Florian Idenburg, Jing Liu, and Ilias Papageorgiou of the firm SO-IL, who put forth their conception of architecture in this immersive book. The compilation of essays, texts, and illustrations of the award-winning firm’s built and unbuilt projects gives readers a multidimensional view of its style of architecture.


Ethics of the Urban: The City and the Spaces of the Political

Edited by Mohsen Mostafavi
Designed by Integral Lars Müller
Lars Müller Publishers, 332 pp., $35

Cities are a manifestation of many characteristics such as identity, citizenship, and belonging. With intensifying geoeconomic integration, environmental crises, population movements, and waves of protest, Ethics of the Urban discusses the role of urban spaces in politics through essays on history, sociology, art, political theory, planning, law, and design practice.

Making Urban Nature

Written by Piet Vollaard
Designed by Antenna Men
nai010 publishers, 256 pp., $50

For a long time there has been a sharp divide between the urban environment and nature. However, as the urban sphere develops, there is a growing trend of integrating nature into the design of buildings and urban outdoor spaces. Making Urban Nature surveys nature inclusive design in European cities and offers practical examples and design suggestions.

Public Space? Lost and Found

Written by Gediminas Urbonas,
Ann Lui, and Lucas Freeman
Designed by NODE Berlin Oslo
MIT Press, 300 pp.,  $40

The concept of what is or is not a“public space,”and what should be done with it, has been on the minds of architects, designers, and artists for centuries. Public Space? Lost and Found considers the role of aesthetic practices within construction, identification, and the critique of public spaces. This book documents a number of recent projects with accompanying essays and texts from theorists and historians alike that open up discussions on ecological catastrophes, underrepresented communities, and ultimately the effects of digital media and the internet on public space.

Rebuild by Design: New Approaches to Climate Change

Written by Henk Ovink
and Jelte Boeijenga
Designed by Koehorst in ’t Veld
nai010 publishers, 288 pp., $60

In the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Rebuild by Design began as a competition to rebuild, innovate, and create more resilient projects to pave the way for future longevity in the urban sphere. This book explores the creative process behind the contest and how participants from different sectors such as government, philanthropy, and academia can lend a hand in the efforts.

Ruralism: The Future of Villages and Small Towns in an Urbanizing World

Written by Vanessa Carlow
Designed by Susanne Rösler
JOVIS, 296 pp., $45

Cities and urban centers have long been considered the hubs of culture, while rural areas are often regarded as wastelands of stagnation.But despite how overlooked countrysides are, rural areas are transform- ing just as quickly as urban spheres. Ruralism makes a case for the school of thought that transformation starts from rural spaces and that more research is needed on such innovation, which will in time permeate urban spaces, allowing for the gradual advancement of both.


See Red Women’s Workshop: Feminist Posters 1974–1990

Written by Prudence Stevenson, Susan Mackie,
Anne Robinson, Jess Baines, and Sheila Rowbotham
Designed by Claire Mason
Four Corners Books, 184 pp., $40

See Red was a feminist workshop created in London in 1974 by a group of young art students to tackle issues of sexuality, identity, and oppression. In a collection of personal essays, sketches, screen prints, and other documents, See Red Women’s Workshop chronicles the struggles, humor, and successes of young women trying to make a change in their society.

Børge Mogensen: Simplicity and Function

Written by Michael Müller
Designed by Søren Damstedt,
Hatje Cantz, 240 pp., $75

Børge Mogensen was one of Denmark’s most influential designers, and his trademark was the functionality of his creations. He was a restless thinker who took pages of notes on current and prospective designs, all of which are included in this visual piece, featuring photographs of his furniture, workshop drawings, and other projects.

Kanban: Tradition Shop Signs of Japan

Written by Alan Scott Pate
Designed by Jeff Wincapaw
Princeton University Press,
160 pp., $50

Kanban were traditional street signs in Japan that merchants used to lure customers. Their function was to engage passersby and mark the unique presence of products and services inside shops. Made from a variety of materials like wood, iron, paper, and cloth, these signs evoked a presence in the chaotic market scenes of 19th- and 20th-century Japan. The book provides insight into the country’s artistic and commercial roots by illustrating the history of these street signs, how they were created, and some of the businesses and trades that used them.

The Responsible Object: A History of Design Ideology for the Future

Written by Marjanne van Helvert
Designed by Ruben Pater
Valiz, 288 pp., $29

For quite a few decades, industrial and urban innovation has grown to encompass more sustainable and “green” ideologies. It is no longer man versus nature but rather man with nature—working together to allow for the continuity and health of both. The Responsible Object documents the strides made by environmentalists and designers alike in creating a cooperative environment that is both eco- and people-friendly.

Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism

Written by Alice Twemlow
Designed by Marge Encomienda
MIT Press, 320 pp., $35

In Sifting the Trash, Alice Twemlow discusses how product design criticism either sustains or condemns a product without talking about its usefulness and longevity. The book explores five key moments over the past 60 years in product design in which critics either sifted the trash, assigned value, or tried to detect, diagnose, and treat the sicknesses of a consumer society.


Red: The History of a Color

Written by Michel Pastoureau
Design by Amanda Weiss
Princeton University Press, 216 pp., $40

Red is the color of lovers, blood, and anguish, and often signifies intensity. It is no doubt one of the most important colors in our history. Michel Pastoureau examines its significance through a slew of analytical essays and photographs that reveal the complex and, at times, controversial nature of the color and its relation to other hues.

Charlotte Perriand: Complete Works, Volume 3: 1956–1968

Written by Jacques Barsac
Designed by Delphine Renon
Scheidegger & Spiess,
528 pp., $130

Charlotte Perriand, one of the 20th century’s most prominent interior designers, was famous for her carefully crafted furniture, now considered classic, as well as her collaborations with other artists including Serge Mouille, Georges Jouve, and Jean Prouvé. This book,the third in a planned four volume series, covers Perriand’s works from 1956 to 1968, detailing her high-profile projects including branding and designs like Air France’s offices around the world and her renovation of Geneva’s Palais des Nations, as well as revealing her close, yet little known, ties with Brazil.

Designing the Patient Room: A New Approach for Healthcare Interiors

Written by Sylvia Leydecker
Designed by Reinhard Steger,
Birkhäuser, 192 pp., $70

As awareness of the effect of hospital design on the well-being of patients increases, Sylvia Leydecker shines a light on the interiors of these spaces in Designing the Patient Room. Explaining the different components of design, such as color, light, surface texture, etc.,the book also addresses the impact of hygiene, work flow, and economic viability on a patient’s welfare via ten international projects

Making Magnificence: Architects, Stuccatori, and the Eighteenth-Century Interior

Written by Christine Casey
Designed by Sophie Sheldrake
and Charlotte Grievson
Yale University Press,

320 pp., $75

In the 18th century, the craftsmen of Ticino, Switzerland, traveled throughout Northern Europe, leaving their mark as decorative plaster workers on the region’s architecture. Although not widely known, they grew to influence modern design in these areas, and their work can still be seen in the interiors of buildings such as the Palazzo Reale in Turin.

Tastemaker: Elizabeth Gordon, House Beautiful, and the Postwar American Home

Written by Monica Penick
Designed by Yve Ludwig
Yale University Press,
260 pp., $65

The late Elizabeth Gordon, House Beautiful’s one time editor in chief, wrote extensively on the subject of design, its slow deterioration, and its revitalization. Tastemaker is an important look into the shaping of mid century design, and Gordon’s profound influence on modern American architecture. This profusely illustrated portrait features nearly 200 photos of projects shot by, among others, Ezra Stoller and Julius Shulman.


The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects: Economy as Ethic

Written by Robert McCarter
Designed by Peter Dawson
Thames & Hudson, 416 pp., $70

Designed with minimal materials for maximum effects, the works of MacKay-Lyons Sweet apple Architects embody the characteristics of the “material culture of building and the making of places,” says Robert McCarter. Having won over 100 awards, including a Gold Medal from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Brian MacKay and his firm focus on the desire for a deep engagement with the landscape and climate, which can be seen through the Two Hulls House and Bridge House in Nova Scotia. This book spotlights more than 100 projects with the intent of being both poetic and pragmatic.

In Search of Bawa: Master Architect of Sri Lanka

Written by David Robson
with photographs
by Sebastian Posingis
Designed by Norreha Sayuti
and Stephy Chee
Laurence King, 144 pp., $30

Geoffrey Bawa was one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished architects. This book collects essays, photographs, and drawings on the theme of tropical modernism that he pioneered. In Search of Bawa is introduced by the Bawa scholar David Robson and includes a site-by-site tour of 45 of his buildings scattered throughout the country. It ends with an account of buildings that have been deemed a success or a lost cause.

Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries 1973–1982

Written by Tony Brook
and Adrian Shaughnessy
Designed by Spin
Unit Editions, 872 pp., $80

You can often get a peek into an artist’s mind through his or her sketches. These glimpses usually take the form of scribbles in a notebook or doodles on a napkin. The Visual Diaries 1973–1982 explores them in do graphic designer Lance Wyman, who has meticulously stored all his daily sketches—on train tickets, napkins, business cards, or occasional photographs—in his design logbooks since 1973. The Visual Diaries sheds light on Wyman, best known for his ground- breaking work for the Mexico 1968 Olympics, and his ideas, typefaces, color swatches, conversations, and more.

Renzo Piano: The Complete Logbook

Written by Renzo Piano
Cover sketch by Renzo Piano
Thames & Hudson, 432 pp., $70

One of the most remarkable architects of our time, Renzo Piano has designed extraordinary buildings in the past 50 years, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the New York Times Building in New York City. In Renzo Piano: The Complete Logbook, he presents more than 100 works with over a thousand images, including new photographs, drawings, and sketches, complete with explanations.

Wright on Exhibit: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architectural Exhibitions

Written by Kathryn Smith
Designed by Rita Jules
and Anjali Pala
Princeton University Press,
288 pp., $60

Kathryn Smith refutes the public and historical notion of Frank Lloyd Wright as a self-promoter by drawing on evidence of his being an innovator and a social activist who sought divergent routes to publicizing his work for the sake of artistic progress and social improvements. Smith illuminates the multimedia component of Wright’s work—how he came to eventually incorporate film into his exhibitions—to shed light on the broader discourse of architecture and design as it approaches a new age of modernity.

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