Title Understanding Design
Author Kees Dorst
Required to purchase this for an adjunct in 2010, I read this in the summer of 2011 while on and off of planes, and that is just the type of situation that this book was created for. Single page explanations of tremendous abstracts, such as ‘The limits of planning’ and ‘absolute beginners’, Kees Dorst breaks up this text into several hierarchical sections on general design.
Not a book that will immediately tell you how you should progress in specific situations, but a book that will give you a general guide about how to approach design in a multitude of situations. Extremely informative, and I would say a must-have, if you are a novice designer of any of the allied designed fields. And it doesn’t take long to get your money’s worth from it.
Title Common Ground in a Liquid City
Author Matt Hern
Read through this text while I was in Fort Collins, CO last summer at my grandparents and I was insanely surprised about how thoroughly this text exposed urban problems that aren’t thought about to a great depth, as well balancing the conversation with what is done well and where. A great example of this type of urban breakdown, except not as thorough and at a different academic level, is Bicycle Diaries by David Byne, which is also supremely worth reading.
Matt Hern, PhD (Urban Studies) puts out a genuine dissection of the urban workings of Vancouver, Istanbul, Thessaloniki (previously posted about), Montreal, Fort Good Hope, Las Vegas, Portland, New York, Diyarbakir in Kurdistan, and Kaunakakai in Moloka’i. A single word description would ‘convincing’, while another would be ‘manifesto’.
If you are working on an urban design project, this has a great voice for exposing a more down-to-earth perception of city than most architects’ texts. If you aren’t, you can learn how to contradict popular opinion by claiming that Portland is, in fact, not a perfect model of the contemporary city as its social implications are large.
Title: The Poetics of a Wall Projection
Author: Jan Turnovsky
Description: (cover) - Originally published in German in 1985, The Poetics of a Wall Projetion is a translation by the American scholar Kent Kleinman of Jan Turnovsky’s knowingly idiosyncratic study of the Stonborough House, designed and built by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in Vienna in the 1920s. The precision of Turnovsky’s text mirrors the building that serves as his subject and offers a rare, now almost extinct, contemporary form of architectural history based upon an intensely close reading of a single building, and specifically an intricate compositional analysis of that building’s floor plan.
Why Its Worth Reading: Past its first description on the cover, what would at first glance seem to be a rather dry read on the subject of the Wittgenstein House is an incredibly informative dialogue between Turnovsky and the design anxiety of Wittgenstein’s process. This book intricately follows the pursuit of pure geometry and the lengths through which we have all searched for solutions to architectural problems that we create ourselves.
I picked up this book in The Winding Stair bookshop in Dublin while studying abroad and it turned out to be one of the most exciting books I picked up while over seas. It helped a great deal in untying the frustration that we all experience and aided me personally in how I pursue the design process. This book is one of the best, so go out there and read it.
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