London Underground Architecture & Design Map, Blue Crow Media, RRP£9
I could have chosen any of Blue Crow’s beautifully produced architecture maps — Brutalist Washington or Paris, Modernist Skopje or Moscow Metro Design. Architecture books are expensive, often superficial and too heavy to carry. These are good value, lightweight and genuinely useful, highlighting in stocking-filler form the architectural and design moments that punctuate global cities.
Hassan Fathy: Earth & Utopia, by Salma Samar Damluji and Viola Bertini, Laurence King, RRP£65/$85
Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy’s radical book Architecture for the Poor (1969) changed the way modern architects saw the developing world. His ideas combined contemporary construction and modernist ideas with vernacular forms and historical motifs. Through drawings, interviews and Fathy’s own writings, this book is the first for a generation to seriously explore his fascinating legacy.
Elements of Architecture, by Rem Koolhaas, Taschen, RRP£100/$125
Koolhaas contends that architects have surrendered most of their territory to engineers, manufacturers and specialists, so rather than retreating into theory, he and his colleagues have analysed the components of contemporary consecution, from walls and elevators to windows and plumbing. It is a brilliant and stimulating exploration of the stories behind the most mundane and ubiquitous elements of architecture.
The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century, by Mark Lamster, Little, Brown, RRP$35
Johnson was the man who brought modern architecture to the US, championing Mies van der Rohe, helping to establish New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and later with his own designs. Suave, witty, talented, an irrepressible gossip and a one-time Nazi, he was simultaneously loved and hated. Lamster’s book is a gripping and fair-minded account of an architect who always placed himself at the centre and changed the face of the US — not always for the better.
Spomenik Monument Database, by Donald Niebyl, Fuel, RRP£22.50
Between 1960 and 1990, the Yugoslavs built hundreds of remarkable monuments to the wartime anti-fascist resistance. Powerful, abstract, often mesmerisingly weird, they became the fractured nation’s defining modernist oeuvre, emblem of a uniquely Yugoslavian version of communism. This is an elegant record of their existence.
Edwin Heathcote is the FT’s architecture critic
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