books for architects

Best Architecture Books for Architects And Students

So when I joined architecture millennial back, I was so excited and totally clueless about almost everything. EVERYTHING. And even when the courses kicked in, I still had so many questions like what do architects do? How to relate basic architecture concepts to the outer world? What master architects did or focused on?

Best architecture books for architects

The profession of architecture is not restricted to just 5 years of classroom teaching. There are several other ways to gain more information on architecture history, architecture styles or designs. The Internet is the most popular source for learning these days but I personally believe that there is no better source of knowledge than (good old) books.
As a university professor, I often get questions from my students asking, “Which is the best architecture book for beginners?” or “Which is the bestselling architecture book this year?” To answer these questions – In this article, I will flesh out my recommendations which will include the list of best architecture books for beginners in 2019.


Reading is a very important part of learning. If you wish to grow as a successful architect, you must be a good reader. By reading I’m trying to emphasize on reading books (not some random blog on the internet).
A book is the most authentic and genuine source of information available, where a professional or an educated scholar expresses all his hard work, learning and experiences. The content available in a book is cent percent true, leaving almost no margin for error.
The architectural books can be called ‘expression of an architect’s years of experience.’ These books usually consist of architectural, structural and conceptual drawings along with a text box explaining the details of the same. These books will –

  • Improve your learning experience.
  • Help you understand things in a better way.
  • Expose you to a new set of knowledge and experience.
  • Help you to grasp new ideas.

You must be judging me for my suggestion and opinions, But even wisest of Scholars used to (and still) emphasize the idea of reading books. Let me share some of the most popular quotes from popular and successful scholars about reading books –

Why You Should be Reading These Architecture Books

I started this blog because I believe school education is not enough to excel as an architecture student. It’s better you learn on your own and the best way to do that is reading books. Architecture books are costly but the knowledge and information on them is excellent and you can read and learn anywhere.

Becoming a successful architect requires strong foundations. And books are the most reliable source to make sure you know what it takes to become a successful architect.


Till now you have learned the names of the best architectural books for beginners and the importance of reading books. In this section, we will talk about how to read these books effectively, in order to get the most out them.


You must identify your topic of interest. When you are sure about the topic, search for the books written about the same. Select the book with the most relevant content. You can always ask others for suggestions on good reads.


Before you start reading, take a quick glance at all the headings and content. This will help you analyze and highlight the chapters most relevant to your areas of interest.


It is very important to read a book in chronological order. Do not start reading random pages of the books. Follow a systematic reading pattern to grasp maximum information.


Illustrations are the most important part of architectural books. You must carefully analyze all the picture, sketches and diagrams to understand the concept, design, and details. Carefully read the text relevant to the illustrations for better understanding.


Taking notes is the most important part of reading an academic book. You must take crisp and concise notes of the important or relevant topics or you can simply highlight it in the book using a highlighter.This will help you learn better.

Reading a book is no big deal. You just need to find a good book that talks as well as listen to you.
For more information on architectural books read our post on best books for architects



Building construction McKAY book

Building materials are one of the most important subjects studied by an architecture student. This book will give the student a thorough knowledge about the basic and advanced building materials and construction technology.



This book by Bordon, Elzanowzki, Teurk, and Taylor is heavily loaded with illustrations and in a super condensed manner. It is a perfect reading choice for any architecture enthusiast. This book consists offers more than 600 different illustrations, page after page explaining the important architectural revolutions. All of it is systematically represented according to the timeline. The book also contains brief biographies of famous architects and critical analysis of their iconic work.



Learning about the future of architecture is as important as learning about its history. This book simply highlights the idea of the future of architecture.
The author of this book talks about 100 different buildings that portrait the concept of future of construction. It also emphasizes the increasing demands of users and architects from future construction.



Rendering and sketching are the most basic skills taught to every architecture student. An architect must know how to sketch well. This book is the ultimate guide to learn the basics of rendering and sketching with a pen.
It is full of simple lessons that teach how to create desired textures and effects. It also has several other chapters explaining the basics of sketching, light, and shadow etc.

If you even have had same questions, this post is going to summarize all the books you must read once, to see this world of architecture from a different perspective.

Our list of best architecture books for architecture professionals and students.

1. Architecture: A Visual History by Jonathan Glancey

Architecture- A Visual History by Jonathan Glancey book online

Jonathan Glancey is an architectural critic and writer; and who doesn’t want to know about the architectural marvels in our world from the perspective of a critic itself!! This book focuses on buildings specifically, giving a visual tour of more than 350 world’s greatest buildings of different architectural styles starting from the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt to Burj Khalifa in Dubai and beyond.

2. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order by Francis D.K. Ching

One of the best selling architecture book. If you want to gain a basic understanding of design, this book should be your first, and of every architect or architecture student in the world. Ching starts with the most basic elements of geometry–points, lines, planes, volumes–and demonstrates how they can be combined and organized to create architectural forms. It has a lot of sketches that visually binds the reader to itself. It should be kept in mind that the goal of the book is to examine the underlying properties of architecture (geometry, proportion, arrangement) and not to introduce architecture history or movements.

3. The Architecture Reference & Specification Book: Everything Architects Need To Know Every Day by Julia McMorrough

The Architecture Reference & Specification Book Everything Architects Need To Know Every Day by Julia McMorrough book online

This book is an excellent attempt to formalize the most important and useful precious bits of information, hard-won from years of experience. It has everything, from the basics of architectural drawing and sketching to building codes. There is an entire section devoted to hand-drafting implements and methodologies. The book presents the “tip of the iceberg ” means essentials of topics that will require deeper study. In nutshell, it’s a handy little book to keep in a drawer at your desk.

4. 101 Things I Learned In Architecture School by Matthew Frederick

101 Things I Learned In Architecture School by Matthew Frederick book online

The opening of this book eloquently states exactly how it feels to be in design school. it was directed toward the creative process for people actually designing work, and there was little for non-architects trying to learn about the field. It is a great introduction to design terms, principles, and concepts. It opens up a sense of appreciation for layout and design. The 101 things are each given a page and an accompanying illustration. The book is about the mental process of developing the design.

5. The New Old House: Historic & Modern Architecture Combined by Marc Kristal

The New Old House Historic & Modern Architecture Combined by Marc Kristal book online

The New Old House presents 18 private historic homes, from North America to Europe, and traces the ingenious ways architects have refreshed them for a new generation. After reading the stories that accompany the photographs, you will feel that you have understood how architects see the world because Kristal captures the reader’s imagination with his virtuoso writing. These projects address such timely factors as sustainability, multiculturalism, preservation, and style, and demonstrate the unique beauty and elegance that comes from the interweaving of modernity and history.

6. Sir Banister Fletcher’s: History of Architecture by Banister Fletcher Sir

Sir Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture by Fletcher book online

This book has almost everything about the Architecture, so you can say it is an easy-to-use reference book with all the world’s major architecture described, explained and, in many cases, fully illustrated. The number of hands drawn illustrations in this book is mind-boggling. If you want to know anything about the architectural techniques that have ever existed in the history of whole mankind, this is the book you need to have.

7. Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier

Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier book online

Now honestly, who wouldn’t want to read a book by the legend himself, who had a great vision about the future. It has lots of information on architecture and a specific way of looking into architecture plus humorous writing style of Corbusier made it more interesting. The present volume is a complete English translation of the 13th French edition of that historic manifesto, in which Le Corbusier explained his technical and aesthetic theories, views on the industry, economics, the relation of form to function and much more.

8. The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook for Green Building by Johan van Lengen

The Barefoot Architect A Handbook for Green Building by Johan van Lengen book online

Johan van Lengen is a former UN worker and prominent architect who has seen how desperately houses in impoverished tropical climates need a greener approach. Book has a Simple and basic approach, clear explanations with plenty of drawings plus separate sections for tropics as well as temperate regions, as the author emphasizes what is inexpensive and sustainable. It also explains everything about design, material, and implementation of techniques in such areas.

9. Zaha Hadid by Basic Art Series 2.0 by Philip Jodidio

Zaha Hadid by Basic Art Series 2.0 by Philip Jodidio book online

Zaha Hadid was a revolutionary architect and most of her futuristic designs were unbuildable. She is recognized as the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for architecture. She was an artist and an architect, whose style shifted from sharply angled buildings to later more fluid architecture that made floors, ceilings, walls, and furniture part of an overall design. This book mainly focuses on all that only, taking you to a whole different world because nobody broke rules of architecture as Zaha Hadid did.

10. Architecture and Design: Bamboo Construction & Design: Design Guide & 59 Case Study by Eduard Broto

Architecture and Design- Bamboo Construction & Design- Design Guide & 59 Case Study by Eduard Broto

This book explores all aspects that architects working with bamboo will need to consider and It has some of the most beautiful, creative and cutting-edge bamboo projects done in recent years with their photos and plans.  Light, stiff, strong and incredibly fast-growing, bamboo is a true super-plant, and in construction, it is becoming a super-material.

11. Neufert’s Architects’ Data by Ernst Neufert

Neufert’s Architects’ Data by Ernst Neufert book online

It’s like a holy book for architects as this book’s data is an essential reference for the initial design and planning of a building project. it covers the full range of preliminary considerations and illustrations, which are dimensioned and each building type includes plans, sections, site layouts, and design details. So this book is a must to form the framework of any building project.

12. World Architecture: The Masterworks by Will Pryce

world architecture book

I found this book very helpful. It’s an amazing book not just because it covers 350 photographs of the world’s great architecture buildings but you can get in-depth understanding of how and why these buildings were created.

If you want to learn about the evolution of architecture from Islamic to modern architecture, we recommend you to read this book.

Will Pryce, the author of this book is an architect and photographer. Also must read for those who love photography and want to learn extra about lighting conditions to take brilliant architecture photographs just by looking the images presented in this book.

13. Timeless: Classic American Architecture for Contemporary Living

Timeless- Classic American Architecture for Contemporary Living

In this book, you will see brilliant work of Award winning architect Patrick Ahearn. He perfectly illustrated the different philosophy and principle on balance between preservation and innovation in architecture design.

By reading this book you will get insights on how a recent architecture graduate started his journey and become the most successful architect in residential architecture. This book is great if you are looking for motivation to start your own architecture firm.

14. The Language of Architecture: 26 Principles Every Architect Should Know

The Language of Architecture

’26 Principles Every Architect Should Know’ is the subtitle of this book and pretty much sums it up.

In this book, Andrea explains basic principles of architectural design via visual reference to historical architecture elements and use of these elements. This book provides value and inspiration to both architecture professionals and students.

What i found really useful was the high resolution images to get the better understanding of architectural details.

With this book you can take your architecture design understanding to next level.

15. Wood by William Hall

Wood by William Hall

A very helpful book with collection of 170 wooden structures. In a nutshell, it’s a valuable collection for architects those who loves the relation of architecture and natural material wood.

Best part is with the photographs you can read captions that explains the design elements in that building.

With this book you will get better understanding of wood as an architectural material and its various uses.

16. Retreat: The Modern House in Nature

Retreat- The Modern House in Nature

I as an architect always dream of building a house surrounded by nature. This book will inspire you to do the same. Retreat features world’s best homes designed around greenery and peaceful landscapes.

This books is treat to your eyes and your mind. Must recommend books for architects in a time when heavy machinery and construction is working against the nature.

17. Architects’ Houses by Michael Webb

Architects' Houses by Michael Webb

If you are planning to design your own house or you are are interested in reading more about famous architects and their homes, you should read this book.

From Norman Foster to Bille Tsien, this book features world’s Most talented architects houses and their design process.

With detailed information like texts, sketches and plans you will get a detailed understanding about the design process of these talented architect’s minds.

18. Archidoodle: The Architect’s Activity Book

Archidoodle- The Architect's Activity Book

My friend gifted me this amazing book and it sparked my liking for architecture. We recommend this architecture book for beginners. This book encourage use to use their creativity and imagination in the form of drawing, painting or sketching.

It’s a collection of interactive drawings. With this book you can challenge yourself to design skyscraper or a monument with a creative approach.

19. The Architecture Of Light by Sage Russell

The Architecture Of Light by Sage Russell

We all know that lighting plays an important role in architectural and interior design.
As you can guess by reading the subtitle : “A textbook of procedures and practices for the Architect, Interior Designer and Lighting Designer” this book will guide you through the role of lighting in architecture.

For those who wants to learn more about various lighting concepts and techniques. If you have missed your lectures on lighting, don’t worry this book got your covered.

Whether you want to learn the lighting details, applications or types of lights, this book will definitely provide you the information you are looking for.

20. Architectural Detailing: Function, Constructibility, Aesthetics

Architectural Detailing

We recommend this book to both professionals and students those who want to gain in-depth knowledge of construction material, building details, planning or architecture work process.

By reading this book you will get better understanding various architecture and construction process that enhance your thinking towards building performance. With advance detailing you can also learn from real-world examples.

So this just a few from many great books which a person must read once and of course there are many which are missing the list, so go on and explore them too. There are a lot of reasons books becomes “must reads,” and it’s not necessarily just their literary quality.
Thanks for reading this post on 10 best architecture books.


Also see our recent post on 10 Indian place that every Architect must visit
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