- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (26 October 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140139966
- ISBN-13: 978-0140139969
- Product Dimensions: 27.4 x 1.9 x 21.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 816 g
- Customer Reviews: 60 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built Paperback – 26 October 1995
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"A stunning exploration of the design of design ... How Buildings Learn will irrevocably alter yor sense of place, space, and the artifacts that shape them."
--Michael Shrage, Wired
--Philip Morrison, Scientific American
"An extremely attractive volume that will forever alter the way we respond to the buildings around us. We may also hope it will alter the way architects design buildings."
--Harold Gilliam, San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating and indefinable book ... How Buildings Learn is a hymn to entropy, a witty, heterodox book dedicated to kicking the stuffing out of the proposition that architecture is permanent and that buildings cannot adapt."
--Stephen Bayley, The Times (London)
"The book's diagnosis is clear and to the poiny, and its illustrations of how buildings change are both fascinating and instructive. This is, in short, one of the rare books that every architect should read."
--Thomas Fisher, editor, Progressive Architecture
"A book of good sound-bites and laser-sharp insight ... No architecture students should complete their preliminary studies without reading it from cover to cover."
--Patric Hannay, The Architects' Journal
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Top international reviews
Needless to say the current manifestation is totally different to the original plan.
If you haven't read this, shame on you.
Brand calls for adaptable and liveable architecture, for buildings which can easily be repurposed to suit the ever changing needs of the inhabitants and which can grow appropriately and sensibly. The focus is also on functionality in the sense that it needs to take precedence over stylistic concerns - especially those, which are achieved at the cost of buildings being functionally impoverished as a result. In keeping with the title not only extensions and remodelling are covered in great detail, the author also devotes sufficient attention to upkeep, maintenance and appropriate design to incorporate those aspects at the construction stage already.
In addition to being a very well illustrated (myriad of evolutionary pictures of the same buildings over time) and easy to read book, one can in many instances use it as a framework as well as a practical guide when making building decisions oneself. It might not tell you specifically what material and design solution is best for each circumstance - even if it often does provide sound advice - but more importantly, it lays down some very sound fundamentals that need to be followed by your architect, if you want a building that will work well, and continue working well for its users over a long period of time.
Returning to the opening statement, I very much hope that something along the lines of this book makes it into the core curriculum of architectural education - the profession would go a long way towards redeeming itself, if the practitioners were generally knowledgeable about the holistic way of looking at buildings, including over time, as prescribed by Brand here. As for the star architects, I wish they were forced to learn the contects by heart, from cover to cover, before being allowed to design as much as an outhouse ever again.
It's about people and their environment, the environments they live in, how they're built and how they change.
As such, this is a book about Design with a Capital D. And being a Capital D book, it should be read by all design students, of every discipline.
It is a human book and an important book. Read it.
In my case, I bought this book again because I'm planning to build my house in a couple of months and I don't want it to be yet another house that falls apart in 20-30 years because it's useless and/or ugly.
Stewart Brand is thorough and observant, and he has a fascinating perspective on the built world as it relates to time. I will be reading more of his work as soon as I have the time.