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Tech reads: How creativity with materials feeds climate-friendly design

Jan-Carlos Kucharek

Materials are the theme of this clutch of technical books, which take a sustainable look at versatile aluminium, inspiring plant-based products and creative textiles

Aluminium: A Studio Design Guide

Michael Stacey. RIBA Publishing 240pp HB £45

Michael Stacey is a practitioner, Bartlett professor and author of numerous books on digital fabrication. This, the latest of several titles on the durability, sustainability and strength of aluminium, is an inspirational overview of its use in architecture and infrastructure – with a technical level of detail showcasing how useful and versatile it is. From curtain walling and cladding to roofing and structural uses, Stacey uses exemplars to showcase its design flexibility. And with recycling requiring only 5% of the energy needed to produce primary aluminium, he proves it can be re-used almost infinitely.

Manual of Biogenic House Sections

Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki and David J. Lewis. Oro Editions 351pp PB £35

This book feels like a labour of love. Concentrating on the use of plant and earth-based materials, it looks at 55 buildings worldwide that sequester carbon and help reposition the profession in a time of environmental crisis. Broken into 10 chapters on materials such as hemp, bamboo, stone or mass timber, the carbon attributes of each are analysed before projects are beautifully illustrated in section with accompanying images. This book is a feast for the eyes and food for thought.

Fabric(ated): Fabric Innovation and Material Responsibility in Architecture

Tolya Stonorov ed. Routledge 271pp PB £34.99

‘The beginning of building coincides with the beginning of textiles,’ noted Gottfried Semper in one essay on aesthetics. But the author also sees textiles as key to architecture’s future. Inspired by Petra Blaisse who draws attention to the architectonic qualities of fabrics, Stonorov brings together writings from specialists in the field. She not only looks at methods of stretching and moulding it to realise contemporary curved surfaces but addresses sustainability and social justice though its use. Weighty issues, but think about it – the space suits of new Moon explorers are unlikely to resemble that of Neil Armstrong.

To order these and other architecture titles, check out the RIBA Bookshop


Tuesday 5 December 2023, 9 am – 11:15 am

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