Books celebrating the architecture of bathing, gravesites, and more
The first Monday in October each year marks World Architecture Day, a holiday created by the International Union of Architects (UIA) to commemorate the craft and its masters. To celebrate, we’re highlighting several recent books, including a perennial bestseller offering a primer in architectural literacy, an unconventional and moving biography of the architect Minoru Yamasaki, and a book of stories based on the imagined histories of architectural drawings—in addition to two leading journals in the field. Explore these titles and more below.
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick
These 101 concise lessons in design, drawing, the creative process, and presentation—from the basics of “How to Draw a Line” to the complexities of color theory—provide a much-needed primer in architectural literacy, making concrete what too often is left nebulous or open-ended in the architecture curriculum. Written by an architect and instructor who remembers well the fog of his own student days, 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School provides valuable guideposts for navigating the design studio and other classes in the architecture curriculum. Architecture graduates—from young designers to experienced practitioners—will turn to the book as well, for inspiration and a guide back to basics when solving a complex design problem.
“This is a must-have for anyone starting out in the field.” —Will Coldwell, The Independent
The Architecture of Bathing: Body, Landscape, Art by Christie Pearson
We enter the public pool, the sauna, or the beach with a heightened awareness of our bodies and the bodies of others. The phenomenology of bathing opens all of our senses toward the physical world entwined with the social, while the history of bathing is one of shared space, in both natural and built environments. In The Architecture of Bathing, Christie Pearson offers a unique examination of communal bathing and its history from the perspective of architecture and landscape. Engagingly written, with more than 260 illustrations, many in color, The Architecture of Bathing offers a celebration of spaces in which public and private, sacred and profane, ritual and habitual, pure and impure, nature and culture commingle.
“Practically everywhere that bodies of water are accessible for public soaking, the architect and writer Christie Pearson has tried them out while taking glorious notes. Her book, The Architecture of Bathing: Body, Landscape, Art, careens around in time and place and ponders ‘the bath’s utopian and dystopian aspects.'” —New York Times Book Review
Bauhaus Futures edited by Laura Forlano, Molly Wright Steenson and Mike Ananny
What would keep the Bauhaus up at night if it were practicing today? A century after its founding by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany, as an “experimental laboratory of the future,” who are the pioneering experimentalists who reinscribe or resist Bauhaus traditions? This book explores the varied legacies, influences, and futures of the Bauhaus. The contributors discuss, among other things, the Bauhaus curriculum and its contemporary offshoots; Bauhaus legacies at the MIT Media Lab, Black Mountain College, and elsewhere; the conflict between the Bauhaus ideal of humanist universalism and current approaches to design concerned with race and justice; designed objects, from the iconic to the precarious; textile and weaving work by women in the Bauhaus and the present day; and design and technology.
In the Images of Development: City Design in the Global South by Tridib Banerjee
Remarkably little of the expansive literature on development and globalization considers actual urban form and the physical design of cities as outcomes of these phenomena. The development that has shaped historic transformations in urban form and urbanism—and the consequent human experiences—remains largely unexplored. In this book, Tridib Banerjee fills this void by linking the idea of development with those of urbanism, urban form, and urban design, focusing primarily on the contemporary cities in the developing world—the Global South—and their intrinsic prospects in city design. Further, he examines the endogenous possibilities for the future design of these cities that may address growing inequality and the environmental crisis. In the Images of Development serves as the opening of a long overdue conversation among design, development, and planning scholars and practitioners, and those interested in the urban development of the Global South.
“This book has no peer. Banerjee has mined his own extensive scholarship and his experiences in the theory and practice of urban planning to produce an exceptional volume—at once a provocative, historically grounded reflection on the political economy of urbanization and a masterful compendium on the evolution of urban design across the developing world.” —Diane E. Davis, Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism, Harvard Graduate School of Design
The World as an Architectural Project by Hashim Sarkis, Roi Salgueiro Barrio and Gabriel Kozlowski
The world’s growing vulnerability to planet-sized risks invites action on a global scale. The World as an Architectural Project shows how for more than a century architects have imagined the future of the planet through world-scale projects. With fifty speculative projects by Patrick Geddes, Alison and Peter Smithson, Kiyonori Kikutake, Saverio Muratori, Takis Zenetos, Sergio Bernardes, Juan Navarro Baldeweg, Luc Deleu, and many others, documented in text and images, this ambitious and wide-ranging book is the first compilation of its kind.
“There is abundant knowledge to be found in the past century-and-a-half of visionary architecture, and there are many pertinent questions, both intended and inadvertent. As we begin the process of rebuilding, The World as an Architectural Project is a cognitive toolkit we all need.” —Jonathon Keats, Forbes
An Underground Guide to Sewers or: Down, Through and Out in Paris, London, New York, &c. by Stephen Halliday
The sewer, in all its murkiness, filthiness, and subterranean seclusion, has been an evocative (and redolent) literary device, appearing in works by writers ranging from Charles Dickens to Graham Greene. This entertaining and erudite book provides the story behind, or beneath, these stories, offering a global guide to sewers that celebrates the magnificently designed and engineered structures that lie underneath the world’s great cities. Historian Stephen Halliday leads readers on an expedition through the execrable evolution of waste management—the open sewers, the cesspools, the nightsoil men, the scourge of waterborne diseases, the networks of underground piping, the activated sludge, the fetid fatbergs, and the sublime super sewers.
“If you think an exploration of excrement disposal doesn’t sound like fun, think again. This highly entertaining, dare we say absorbing, book is “a sort of ‘Around the World in Eighty Toilets,’” as Sir Peter Bazalgette—whose great-great-grandfather designed the London sewer system—proclaims in his foreword.” —Tina Jordan, New York Times Book Review
Paris and the Parasite: Noise, Health, and Politics in the Media City by Macs Smith
According to French philosopher Michel Serres, ordered systems are founded on the pathologization of parasites, which can never be fully expelled. In Paris and the Parasite, Macs Smith extends Serres’s approach to Paris as a mediatic city, asking what organisms, people, and forms of interference constitute its parasites. Drawing on French poststructuralist theory and philosophy, media theory, the philosophy of science, and an array of literary and cultural sources, he examines Paris and its parasites from the early nineteenth century to today, focusing on the contemporary city. In so doing, he reveals the social consequences of anti-parasitic urbanism.
“Ranging expertly from literature to street art, film to parkour, Smith brilliantly draws together architecture, urbanism, philosophy, biology, and social history to reveal the stakes of living together in the modern city. A compelling achievement.” —Martin Crowley, Anthony L. Lyster Fellow and Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages, Queens’ College, Cambridge
Read an excerpt adapted from the book in the MIT Press Reader.
Stories from Architecture: Behind the Lines at Drawing Matter by Philippa Lewis
Even when an architectural drawing does not show any human figures, we can imagine many different characters just off the page: architects, artists, onlookers, clients, builders, developers, philanthropists—working, observing, admiring, arguing. In Stories from Architecture, Philippa Lewis captures some of these personalities through reminiscences, anecdotes, conversations, letters, and monologues that collectively offer the imagined histories of twenty-five architectural drawings. The drawings, reproduced in color, are all sourced from the Drawing Matter collection in Somerset, UK, and are fascinating objects in themselves; but Lewis shifts our attention beyond the image to other possible histories that linger, invisible, beyond the page, and in the process animates not just a series of archival documents but the writing of architectural history.
“I read Lewis’s stories over breakfast and they always make me smile.” —Anthony Vidler
Architects’ Gravesites: A Serendipitous Guide by Henry H. Kuehn
All working architects leave behind a string of monuments to themselves in the form of buildings they have designed. But what about the final spaces that architects themselves will occupy? Are architects’ gravesites more monumental—more architectural—than others? This unique book provides an illustrated guide to more than 200 gravesites of famous architects, almost all of them in the United States. Led by our intrepid author, Henry Kuehn, we find that most graves of architects are not monumental but rather modest, that many architects did not design their final resting places, and that a surprising number had their ashes scattered. Architects’ Gravesites is an architectural guide like no other, revealing as much about mortality as about monumentality.
“Thumbing through can prove oddly infectious.” —ARTnews
Read an excerpt from the book in the MIT Press Reader.
Sandfuture by Justin Beal
Sandfuture is a book about the life of the architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912–1986), who remains on the margins of history despite the enormous influence of his work on American architecture and society. That Yamasaki’s most famous projects—the Pruitt-Igoe apartments in St. Louis and the original World Trade Center in New York—were both destroyed on national television, thirty years apart, makes his relative obscurity all the more remarkable. Sandfuture is also a book about an artist interrogating art and architecture’s role in culture as New York changes drastically after a decade bracketed by terrorism and natural disaster. From the central thread of Yamasaki’s life, Sandfuture spirals outward to include reflections on a wide range of subjects, from the figure of the architect in literature and film and transformations in the contemporary art market to the perils of sick buildings and the broader social and political implications of how, and for whom, cities are built.
“It is not like any other book on architecture I have read. And that is a very good thing […] Beal has written a brilliant, often surprisingly personal, book that works as metaphor and, perhaps, as portent.” —Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times
Grey Room brings together scholarly and theoretical articles from the fields of architecture, art, media, and politics to forge a cross-disciplinary discourse uniquely relevant to contemporary concerns. Publishing some of the most interesting and original work within these disciplines, Grey Room has positioned itself at the forefront of current aesthetic and critical debates. Featuring original articles, translations, interviews, dossiers, and academic exchanges, Grey Room emphasizes aesthetic practice and historical and theoretical discourse that appeals to a wide range of readers, including architects, artists, scholars, students, and critics.
Established in 1992, Thresholds is the annual peer-reviewed journal produced by the MIT Department of Architecture. Each independently themed issue features content from leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of architecture, art, and culture. The Thresholds advisory board, composed of internationally recognized figures in various fields of art culture, drives the development of each issue through intellectual support and the pursuit of high-quality submissions from fine arts, design, graphics, media arts and sciences, film, photography, and more.