Reading is Fundamental (even for Architects)

We read a lot (and we mean A LOT) of books every year for our research-based practice.  This has been a particularly abundant year for books on Resilience, including these highly recommended titles:

  1. Disaster Risk Reduction for the Built Environment, by Lee Bosher and Ksenia Chmutina. Yes, it’s a textbook. No, it’s not boring, but a clear and comprehensive resource for understanding how to prepare for and mitigate disasters.
  2. This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. This 2014 book grows ever more urgent as many of the environmental protections in the U.S. are stripped away. It is evident that capitalism is gaining ground against the environment, but this book offers a different perspective on how to change the status quo. Essential reading for activists and influencers.
  3. Petrochemical America by Richard Misrach and Kate Orff. A beautiful and terrifying compendium of Cancer Alley, the chemical corridor from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, and the environmental abuses and social injustice along this riverine landscape.
  4. On Garbage by John Scanlan. When do you see “those shadow cities of the dead,” the garbage dumps, sewage treatment plants, and sorting/recycling centers that surround cities? The sheer volume of waste threatens society and urban form. In our efforts to encourage mindful consumer habits and recycling, this book offers a philosophical view of modern life and its effluent.
  5. City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence. Half a million people live with in the Dadaab Camp in Kenya, with no formal economy or infrastructure. The lives of refugees are described with insight and clarity; we cannot look away from the crises of migration, informal settlements, and sanctuary, and the need for long-term solutions.

Here are the five books we are excited to read this year:

  1. On Accident by Edward Eigen. An essay collection of “the unfamiliar, the arcane, and the obscure” in architecture and cities.
  2. The Ministry of Nostalgia by Owen Hatherley. The growing nostalgia for a utopian past that explodes the creation of false history.
  3. Neri & Hu Design and Research Office. Projects from the Shanghai- and London-based practice, from architecture to product design.
  4. Toward an Urban Ecology by Kate Orff. SCAPE has mastered the synthesis between project scales, working from landscape to architecture in support of a resilient built environment.
  5. The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell. Like J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, only non-fiction.