Tech reads, Aug 2016

Settle down with a our latest selection of good books

Decide & Deliver: 5 Steps to breakthrough performance in your organisation
Marcio W Blenko, Michael C Mankins, Paul Rogers eds. Bain & Company. 172pp HB £19.99

Given practices’ ability to know how to put other peoples’ house in order while often enduring the chaos of their own, this 2nd edition of ‘Decide and Deliver’ offers itself as a welcome salve against practice mismanagement. Its central tenet, about improving decision-making on an organisational level, means it’s more suited to the practice that’s already a certain size, so if you’re wanting to improve your decision-making, you might want to look under ‘Self-Help’ in the bookshop. Expect a lot of corporate speak – processes, priorities and ‘behaviors’ – a few flow diagrams and ‘score cards’; but at least each chapter opens with a real example of a problem and breaks down how it was solved so you can keep the bull***t bingo card in your back pocket.

Architecture Workbook: Design through Motive
Peter Cook. Wiley. 256pp HB £29.99

Any cynics out there thinking Peter Cook’s latest tome is just an excuse to wheel out his half-century old Archigram work again would be right – partly; but there’s still plenty of opportunity in its copiously illustrated pages for him to talk about recent ideas and buildings. Cook gives us nine ‘motives’ for architecture as a springboard for ‘what ifs?’ and ‘how coulds?’, using, his, his students’ and any number of works from the canon of 20th and 21st century architecture to interrogate subjects like ‘New places and strange bedfellows’ and ‘Can we learn from silliness?’ Cook remains an outspoken provocateur and his book is a visual feast of classics and forgotten delights (I mean you, Hans Poelzig and your destroyed Schauspielhaus). And with works like his 2013 ‘Hidden City’, he still retains the ability to generate wonder for our cynical and dulled architectural senses.

Building Revolutions: Applying the Circular Economy to the Built Environment
David Cheshire. RIBA Publishing 138pp PB £35

You’d think that by now yet another book promoting the concept of the circular economy in construction is like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but when profligate waste in the sector remains the norm, the message still seems to be missing the mark. So a regional director at AECOM who also wrote CIBSE’s sustainability guide gives us his take. The book is simply laid out, if a little unadventurous, with clear descriptions of built examples he’s found to make his point; most in the UK to keep both context and possibilities pertinent. While informative, it’s more prosaic than a call to arms: I prefer it when he veers off piste to muse on the dismantling, reconstruction and re-use of old materials of Japan’s Shinto shrines; a philosophical curl of incense around the driven-in timber posts of his argument.