Contact usCareers
Set of books

10 Best Architecture Books to Read in 2023


Architecture is a captivating form of art and science that shapes the physical world around us. If you're passionate about the design, construction, and aesthetics of structures, consider Oxford Summer Courses. Join us on an inspiring journey through our Architecture summer school, where you'll explore the diverse world of architectural styles, innovations, and the impact of design on society.


Please note that the following list of books is recommended reading to broaden your knowledge and deepen your appreciation of Architecture. While some of these books may be included in the Oxford Summer Courses curriculum, the specific content of the summer school can vary. If you wish to study Architecture with us, you can apply to our summer school.


Subscribe to our newsletter to receive helpful tips, tutorials, and thought-provoking articles that can inform and inspire your architectural journey. Sign up here.

1. The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain de Botton

  • "Beauty is a pledge of the possible conformity between the soul and the world, and the world is a pledge of the possible conformity between the soul and itself."
  • Published in 2006, "The Architecture of Happiness" explores the relationship between architecture and our emotional well-being, offering a unique perspective on how design influences our lives.
  • Discussion: How does architecture impact our emotional experiences in the spaces we inhabit?

2. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

  • "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."
  • Set in the world of architecture and individualism, "The Fountainhead" is a thought-provoking novel that delves into the complexities of architectural innovation and integrity.
  • Discussion: How do the themes of individualism and architectural innovation in "The Fountainhead" resonate with contemporary architectural practice?

3. The Death and Life of Great British Cities, by Jane Jacobs

  • "Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody."
  • Jane Jacobs' seminal work challenges traditional urban planning ideas and offers insights into the vibrant, diverse nature of successful cities.
  • Discussion: What lessons can we draw from "The Death and Life of Great British Cities" when designing and planning modern urban environments?

4. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, by Robert Venturi

  • "I like elements which are hybrid rather than 'pure,' compromising rather than 'clean,' distorted rather than 'straightforward,' ambiguous rather than 'articulated,' perverse as well as impersonal, boring as well as 'interesting,' conventional rather than 'designed,' accommodating rather than excluding, redundant rather than simple, vestigial as well as innovating, inconsistent and equivocal rather than direct and clear."
  • Venturi's influential book challenges the modernist architectural principles of simplicity and purity, advocating for a more diverse and inclusive approach to design.
  • Discussion: How does the concept of complexity and contradiction in architecture influence contemporary architectural theory and practice?

5. The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard

  • "The house is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts, memories, and dreams of mankind. The binding principle in this integration is the daydream."
  • This philosophical exploration of the spaces we inhabit delves into the poetic and emotional dimensions of architecture and the impact of spaces on our psyche.
  • Discussion: How does "The Poetics of Space" influence our understanding of the emotional and psychological aspects of architectural design?

6. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, by Rem Koolhaas

  • "Manhattanism is the one urbanistic ideology that has fed, from its conception, on the splendors and miseries of the metropolitan condition—hyper-density—without once losing faith in it as the basis for a desirable modern culture."
  • Rem Koolhaas presents a unique and imaginative perspective on the architecture of New York City, exploring its contradictions, eccentricities, and profound influence on contemporary urbanism.
  • Discussion: How does "Delirious New York" inform our understanding of urban architecture and the dynamics of iconic cities?

7. Towards a New Architecture, by Le Corbusier

  • "A house is a machine for living in."
  • Le Corbusier's groundbreaking manifesto outlines the principles of modern architecture, emphasising functionality, minimalism, and the use of new materials.
  • Discussion: How has Le Corbusier's vision of architecture as a "machine for living" shaped modern architectural design and practice?

8. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, by Juhani Pallasmaa

  • "The architecture of the eye has led to a lack of architecture for the other senses and for our overall bodily experience."
  • Pallasmaa explores the multisensory nature of architecture, challenging the dominance of visual perception and highlighting the importance of all our senses in architectural design.
  • Discussion: How can architects create more holistic and sensory-rich experiences through their designs, as suggested in "The Eyes of the Skin"?

9. The Architecture Student's Handbook of Professional Practice, by American Institute of Architects

  • "Effective practice management requires rigorous attention to both the financial and operational aspects of a professional services business."
  • This practical guide offers essential insights into the professional aspects of architecture, covering everything from project management to ethical considerations.
  • Discussion: How can architectural students prepare themselves for the practical challenges and responsibilities they will face in their careers, as outlined in this handbook?

10. The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings, by Marc Kushner

  • "Buildings are the answer to a question that starts with what, but they are also the question, with the potential to startle us with a simple why."
  • Marc Kushner explores the evolving nature of architecture in the modern world through a curated selection of 100 innovative and thought-provoking buildings.
  • Discussion: How do the featured buildings in "The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings" reflect contemporary architectural trends and challenges?


Oxford Summer Courses invites you to immerse yourself in the captivating world of architecture. In this blog post, we present a meticulously curated list of 10 classic books that will ignite your imagination and deepen your understanding of architectural design. From Alain de Botton's exploration of beauty and emotion in "The Architecture of Happiness" to Le Corbusier's vision of architecture as a "machine for living" in "Towards a New Architecture," these literary works will transport you through the rich tapestry of architectural history and innovation. Through our Architecture programme, you will have the opportunity to analyse and discuss these influential texts, gaining valuable insights into the power of architectural design. Join us on this architectural journey and embark on a transformative experience that will shape your appreciation for the built environment. Who knows, you might just discover a newfound passion for architecture and create designs that will leave a lasting legacy.


Apply now to study Architecture at Oxford Summer Courses and elevate your architectural journey to new heights. Join a community of motivated learners from around the world and embark on a transformative experience. Apply here.

Share this article


Ignite your passion for architecture at Oxford Summer Courses. Immerse yourself in a carefully selected list of books that delve into architectural principles, iconic structures, and the evolution of architectural styles. Gain valuable insights from experts in the field and embark on a transformative journey to enhance your knowledge of architecture.

Get Our Newsletter

We deliver helpful tips, tutorials and thought-provoking articles to inform and inspire your professional development.

Our privacy policy states Oxford Summer Courses will use this information to contact you.

Oxford Summer Courses LTD

18 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2NA, United Kingdom

+44 01865 818403

B Corp Logo

Juniors 9-12


Oxford Summer Courses is an organisation which contracts with the colleges of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London for the use of facilities, but which has no formal connection with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Oxford Summer Courses © 2024
Oxford Summer Courses is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 08011543