Nathalie de Vries

Architect; Urban Designer / The Netherlands / MVRDV

Nathalie de Vries’s Book List

Many of the books on this list are in some way about daily life and how it can inspire us. I acquired quite a few of these during my last years as a student and the first years of my practice, roughly between 1988 and 1996—when I started to earn enough money to buy them.

I must admit, though, that as much as books, architecture magazines shaped my ideas. The library of TU Delft University subscribed to all of them. The German magazine Arch+ stands between the books on my shelves to be re-read. Always aware of the zeitgeist, there is no subject to which it has not dedicated an issue. 

My generation was looking for the “now” in architecture, because a majority of buildings that were produced in the 1970s and ’80s somehow seemed far away from our daily experiences. Nowadays most of us are working in countries all over the world and we have to keep our eyes open to the everyday lives of people that might not be so familiar to us.


This book list was initiated on the occasion of Nathalie de Vries’s November 2, 2012, lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The lecture is available on videotape. The Frances Loeb Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Design will feature Nathalie de Vries’s Designers & Books book list as well as books from its collections that are by and about MVRDV, on display through mid-November.

9 books
Thomas J. Campanella

Comprehensive and very readable history of 20 years of urbanization in China and the origins of this growth. Offers a better understanding of the context for all architects and urbanists who work in China.

Ari Versluis
Ellie Uyttenbroek

A photo-compilation created by a Rotterdam photographer and a stylist in an ever-growing series (last year a new edition was published) on people photographed in the street, all over the world: How we all want to be different yet are still the same.

Ton Lemaire

From Petrarch to contemporary tourism, this is an essential book on the cultural meaning of landscape. Written in 1970, it is still in print in the Netherlands today.

Orhan Pamuk

A personal history intertwined with the modern history of one of the most beautiful cities in the world—Istanbul.

The mother of all research projects on architecture and urbanism connected to everyday life.

Lina Bo Bardi

The role model for many female architects today. This book contains all of Lina Bo Bardi’s work and many sketches. Her SESC-Fábrica do Pompéia sports and cultural center in São Paulo is one of the most impressive building complexes I know.

Reyner Banham

On my first ever trip to the U.S., I went to L.A. instead of New York because of this book.

Marc Augé

A book to keep in mind when involved with the design of such spaces such as supermarkets and airports. Fortunately, “the practice of everyday life” (see The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau, on my book list) is infecting “non-places” more and more.

Michel de Certeau

Not so easy for we practitioners, but still an important book on how the user produces through consumption, by his or her way of using. All designs ultimately have to be used.

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