Summer reading 2016: Architecture and design

A Burglar’s Guide to the City, by Geoff Manaugh, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, £10.99/$16

Burglars, suggests Manaugh, see the city in a different way to the rest of us. They have a far more sophisticated understanding of the permeability of architecture — the fire escapes, the service ducts, the vaults and the sewers. Studying brilliant bank robbers and bungling burglars, this is a fascinating look at the city from its underworld that will change the way you look at buildings.


Last Futures, by Douglas Murphy, Verso, RRP£20/ RRP$29.95

The 1960s and 1970s were, according to Douglas Murphy, the last days of the future. The avant garde visions of radically modern cities, biodomes, space stations and massive urban machines embodied emerging environmental angst, the space age and the big bang of the welfare state. The visions may have been rarely realised but they have come back to haunt us, from Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth philosophy to Silicon Valley’s tech campuses. An archaeology of the architectural future.


Breuer, by Robert McCarter, Phaidon, RRP£100/ RRP$150

With the former Whitney Museum in New York now rechristened as the Met Breuer, the Hungarian-born modernist’s name has been firmly placed in the public consciousness. Breuer’s tough, brutalist designs were sculptural and expressive, and their ambition and scale has come back into fashion. This is a serious study, a book as heavy and monumental as Breuer’s buildings.


Common Sense, by Andrew Todd, Right Angle, RRP$17/ RRP$25

Using the theatre and space for performance as a tool to crack the understanding of architecture as a common ground for humanity, this is almost a primer. Humane, opinionated and frequently very funny, it’s a rare architecture book that both provokes and entertains.

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