Holiday books for the serious-minded
Prefab Housing and the Future of Building: Product to Process
Mathew Aitchson. Lund Humphries. 168p £45 HB
Any number of books on the subject of pre-fabricated homes pass through the RIBAJ offices –but this is definitely one of the better ones on the subject. The author, a professor in architecture at the University of Sydney who runs its Applied Design Lab, has solicited the services of 17 other global experts in the field to pull together a highly informed and digestibly well-written book. There is a broad history of the subject before the writers home in on examples of
pre-fabrication in the key markets of Japan, Sweden and the USA. The book succeeds where others fail in that it strikes the right balance between aesthetics and technical construction. The author’s mantra is simple: start with the process and end with the product.
Loft Conversion Handbook
Construction Products Association.
RIBA Publishing 202p £30 PB
This bang-up-to-date little book provides even the novice young architect starting out with their first domestic project with a perfect guide to the process of constructing a roof extension from start to finish. Beginning with the feasibility and the planning process, chapters are ordered according to design priorities, covering everything from fire safety through to acoustics and electricals. Well laid out and illustrated, its body text is minimal and informative, with boxed-out sections providing key technical and legal guidance. This step-by-step guide supplies much needed simplicity for the myriad decisions that are required even for this most basic of design typologies. Small but perfectly formed.
Douglas Farr ed. Wiley 400p £65 HB
While this book might appear at first glance to stem from a particularly stateside perspective, stick with it – its agendas are truly far-reaching. And it doesn’t make for easy reading. Farr is dealing with the humanitarian, population and climate change challenges that constitute our modern existentialist crisis. Luckily, he explains it in a highly graphic way; the opening 20 pages providing empirical data outlining the global scale of the problem. But for Farr, the change occurs at neighbourhood level, and so he goes on to cite examples from all over the world, where local empowerment has resulted in positive change. Given Farr’s stated timescales, there’s an urgency to the writing that despite all the obstacles in its way, pushes localism as the only serious agent for a sustainable future.