Despite the dire situation necessitating it, even this lockdown has upsides. For some it is a chance to catch up with reading, for architects always a challenge. Ours is the discipline that most others impinge on and these have exploded in complexity. So many new techniques and materials, so much new scholarship bringing significant new books be read.
Not so long ago, reading 10 books a year sufficed to keep up; now 10 a month seems not enough.Reading acquires a new urgency and orientation because the pandemic will likely terminate modernity that, along with countless benefits, is the root of so much that is amiss.
We should have transcended long ago: its reductionist thinking; silo-ed knowledge; dismissal of the problematic as irrelevant ‘externalities’; and the hubristic complacency technological prowess has engendered. We have forgotten our dependency on and interdependency with the natural world, other people and cultures. As with the climate emergency, dealing with future pandemics must entail embracing new, more integrative and comprehensive modes of thinking. Seldom yet applied to architecture, to which they are especially apt, these have been emerging for some while. Some are covered in the last group of recommended readings.
The following suggested readings are a personal, partial and somewhat arbitrary choice. Those chosen are mainly geared to understanding the major problems we confront, to adopting novel approaches to the necessary changes and elaborating on the architecture that might result. Mostly they are overviews that don’t go into detail or deal with technical matters. Not much is about form, although some favourites cover that, nor specific buildings and criticism, although the latter is vital in aiding readers to experience and contemplate architecture.