Tech reads: Sept/Oct

A look a the latest literary architectural offerings

All books available at RIBA Bookshops. Click the images for more information.

Construction and Design Manual: Container & Modular Buildings

Cornelia Dörries & Sarah Zahradnik eds. DOM publishers
251pp PB £32

This new book on modular design addresses the zeitgeist head on, looking at both the need for serious solutions to the European refugee crisis and how higher quality modular construction can be achieved. It is no surprise, then, that most of the 25 projects outlined in this tome hail from Germany. The editors consider both polarities, looking at indulgent uses of container construction to produce eyebrow raisingly luxurious proposals concurrently with approaches to dealing quickly and affordably with mass housing to deal in an effective and humane way with the refugee issue. Copiously illustrated throughout with photographs, plans, sections and exploded axonometrics of both real and theoretical projects, and with an opening introductory essay, the book is well laid out as well as prescient.

Tall Buildings: A strategic design guide

Nigel Clark & Bill Price eds. 2nd ed. RIBA Publishing 147pp PB £40

If a week (or is that a day now?) is a long time in politics, then 10 years is an eternity for designers of high rise buildings, with constant innovations in BIM, structure and facade technology, construction logistics and vertical transportation methods. Produced in tandem with the British Council for Offices and the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, this review of the latest developments in high rise is well overdue. The authors cite the advice and knowledge of over 30 experts to bring the reader up-to-date with current designs and practice, drawing on examples worldwide but most notably in Asia, where the typology is being pushed hardest. A good and very readable general overview of the subject, treating with equivalence the likes of Waugh Thistleton’s multi-storey timber Stadthaus in London with Ole Scheeran’s Singapore Interlace.

Autotelic Architect. Changing World, Changing Practice

Sumita Sinha. Routledge 31.99 194pp PB £32

I had to look up the word autotelic – not a good premise for books that one tends generally to judge by covers. It means ‘having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening’, which may leave readers, on the face of it, none the wiser. Luckily, after Peter Murray’s wry state of the nation intro on the profession, the author starts attempting her own definition of the word in relation to the practice of architecture. This is eminently readable, giving me confidence for the rest of the book, which otherwise suffers from rather low production values. Perhaps that design strategy for the book is a comment on sustainable resource management, or is ironically symptomatic of how the designer’s influence seems to be increasingly written out of the process. In fact, maybe ‘autotelic’ is what the book actually embodies … 

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