Phyllis Lambert

Critic; Curator; Academic; Editor; Lecturer; Executive / Architecture; Urban Design/Urban Planning / Canada / Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)

10 Books on Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes

The following books have always been with me. Every architect might well read them now, but timing was significant in the evolution of my work. The point is that young architects, architects tout court, must be deeply and widely engaged in reading—asking essential questions.

My reading is concerned with the interaction between building and landscape, and the social context writ large. This is true as well for the novels I list below, for which the quality of language also weighs strongly, as does the quality of form in the built world.

4 books
Mirko Zardini Editor

This book and the exhibition it originally accompanied challenge the dominance of the visual in exploring perceptions of the city that have traditionally been ignored, repressed, or maligned, offering complex analyses of the comforts, communication systems, and sensory dimensions of urban life—thus advancing a new spectrum of experience and engagement.

Joseph Rykwert

When Rykwert published this book in 1976, the city was still largely ignored both conceptually and holistically. Rykwert wrote that the city “had to enshrine the hopes and fears of its citizens,” so that it engaged the active role of the inhabitants and their underlying systems of belief as well as the place. Also see my comments on Palladio by James Ackerman.

Giovanna Borasi Editor

Journeys (referring to both the book and the exhibition that it accompanied, produced by the CCA in 2010) questions issues raised by increased global movement. What is the cultural significance of a border today? How does the drawing of a map change the reality on the ground? How do different cultural approaches to the use of public space define a city? Do we need to preserve our regional or national landscape, or can we accept and incorporate changes brought from other parts of the world?

Leonardo Benevolo

When I read Leonardo Benevolo’s The Origins of Modern Town Planning (published in English in 1967) in the 1970s, I was struck by the importance of political theory manifested in the social positions of the 19th-century Utopian reformers, and the link between the technical and the political, which had been lost or ignored. To me this connection, put forward in this slim book, was revelatory, making a strong argument that got lost in larger studies. This publication supported my nascent sense of justice in the city and in buildings—not as objects, but as part of social, economic, and political life and the refinements of the art of architecture.

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