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Books, documentaries and other recommendations

Hi Walkers, Barcelona Architecture Walks team is currently unaffected by the COVID-19 virus, but the Spanish government has declared a nationwide state of emergency. We are therefore obligated to suspend our walking tours at least for the next 15 days.

We are convinced the worldwide effort will soon end the expansion of the COVID-19 virus and that we will once again be able to offer our enlightening architecture tours!

Immediately after our national quarantine we will update the availability of our urban walking routes. All of our architect/guides are eager to share our insights into the values and wonders of architecture and urbanism in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, why not browse this list of recommendations that are all free and easily accessible online?

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Books some of which are well-known classics of architecture literature, but we hope you find a few surprises as well.

1. Vitruvius: The Ten Books on Architecture (15 BC)
By Vitruvius Pollio
Quite simply, one of the most influential architecture books of all time.

2. The Stones of Venice (1851)
By John Ruskin
The Stones of Venice is Ruskin’s sequel to The Seven Lamps of Architecture. If you have been or want to go to Venice, this books provides comprehensive studies and sketches of the city.

3. Le Corbusier: Elements of a Synthesis (1968)
By Stanislaus von Moos
Elements of a Synthesis is a precise and systematic dissection of Le Corbusier’s life and work.

4. Design and Analysis (1997)
By Bernard Leupen, Christoph Grafe, Nicola Kornig, Mark Lampe and Peter de Zeeuw
Written by a team of professors at TU Delft who advocate for “design analysis” – a way of fusing research and education for the advancement of design practices.

5. Surrealism and Architecture (2005)
Edited by Thomas Mical
Thomas Mical attempts to show the significant connection between surrealist painting and architecture.

6. The Architecture of the City (1982)
By Aldo Rossi
Pritzker winner Aldo Rossi’s take on urban planning’s impact on the construction of the city. His urban theories were considered groundbreaking at the time this books was published.

7. Louis Sullivan As He Lived: The Shaping Of American Architecture (1960)
By Willard Connely
Willard Connelly’s biography of the influential Louis Sullivan, mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright and the man who made Chicago the steel city it is today.

8. De Re Aedificatoria (1443)
By Leon Battista Alberti
Also known as On The Art Of BuildingDe Re Aedificatoria was the first book on Architecture printed during the Renaissance. It is considered by many to be as important an example of early architectural writing as Vitruvius’ Ten Books.

9. Architecture And Furniture (1938)
By The Museum Of Modern Art
These essays highlight Alvar Aalto’s designs in architecture and furniture. Originally published as a companion to a furniture and design exhibition at the MoMA in 1938, the highlight is Aalto’s early use of new and innovative wood products.

10. The Lesson Of Japanese Architecture (1936)
By Jiro Harada
With plenty of accompanying graphics, this gives an overarching perspective on Japanese Architecture from pre-Buddhist Japan until the 1930’s.

11. Four Walking Tours Of Modern Architecture In New York City (1961)
By Ada Louise Huxtable
Huxtable was the first architecture critic at The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize winner. This, one of Huxtable’s lesser known books, still has relevance to this day (even if a few of the buildings have had name changes).

12. Modern California Houses; Case Study Houses 1945-1962 (1962)
By Esther McCoy
Designed by architects such as Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig, these houses defined west-coast architectural theory at the time.

 

And here some of the best architecture documentaries

1.The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (2011) Director: Chad Freidrichs. 83 mins.

In 1954, the newly constructed Pruitt-Igoe towers in St. Louis, Missouri, designed by WTC architect Minoru Yamasaki , were “radiant examples of Corbusian rationalism,” symbols of the promise of Modernist architecture to renew our cities, particularly for lower class residents. A mere two decades later, the towers, hotbeds of violence and crime, were spectacularly demolished – becoming potent symbols of both social housing and Modernism’s supposed failure.

2.Urbanized (2011) Director: Gary Hustwit. 82 mins.

75% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban centers by 2050. With this in mind Gary Hustwit, following his previous works Helvetica and Objectified, adds Urbanized to his design trilogy. Urbanized, which looks at the design of urban centers, shows Huswit city hopping to 40 different locations to talk with those in the know, including architectural heavyweights like  and .

3.Koolhaas Houselife (2013) Directors: Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine. 58 mins

“First project of the Living Architectures series, Koolhaas Houselife portrays one of the masterpieces of contemporary architecture. The film lets the viewer enter into Rem Koolhaas‘s house’s daily intimacy through the stories and daily chores of Guadalupe Acedo, the housekeeper, and the other people who look after the building. Pungent, funny and touching.”

4.Eames: The Architect and the Painter (2011) Directors: Jason Cohn & Bill Jersey. 84 mins.

Narrated by James Franco, this documentary offers a glimpse into the marriage of Charles and Ray Eames, a marriage of art and industry, and the design history that came from it.

5.How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster? (2010) Directors: Carlos Carcas, Norberto López Amado. 78 mins.

A documentary on the exponential rise of Sir Norman Foster and his “unending quest to improve the quality of life through design.”

6.Philip Johnson: Diary of an Eccentric Architect (1997) Director: Barbara Wolf. 55 mins.

This documentary is a treat for any architect: a guided tour of Philip Johnson’s work by the bespectacled man himself, including a long, lingering look into Johnson’s “diary” — the famous “Glass House” he designed and lived in. The doc also offers a fascinating peek into this master architect’s eccentric creative process.

7.Unfinished Spaces (2011) Directors: Benjamin Murray, Alysa Nahmias. 86 mins.

The story starts in brave new revolutionary Cuba. Castro, eager to bolster the ego of his new state, makes the grand gesture of commissioning three new schools of art. A trio of young visionary architects are called upon and soon construction starts on their radical designs. However, Soviet utilitarianism becomes popular in the fledgling communist state.

8.Citizen Jane: Battle for the City( 2016) Directors: Sabine Krayenbühl e Zeva Oelbaum. 1h32min

Launched four years ago, on the centenary of American urban activist Jane Jacobs, the film aims to present a glimpse of Jacobs’ past, based on his book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and on the confrontations with Robert Moses, stressing the legacy of this prominent figure in world urbanism. The urbanist symbol of the struggle for the improvement of urban space design.

9.BIG TIME (2017) Director: Kaspar Astrup Schroder. 1h33min.

As one of the highlights of contemporary architectural production, ahead of the Danish BIG office, Bjarke Ingels is now considered one of the largest and most promising names in the creative industry. With an uneasy profile, always in search of new challenges – trying to overcome them, and above all creatively inspiring, in this documentary Ingels is portrayed from a professional and personal point of view.

10.The Human Shelter (2018) Director: Boris Bertram

The Human Shelter, a documentary about what people value or “need” in their lives, ties into a fundamental quality that any architect would be foolish not to cultivate: the ability to listen and perceive what makes people feel at home. Bertram teamed up with IKEA to make the film and involved organizations such as the United Nations, NASA and the MoMA in New York.

 

And remember, stay healthy and stay curious!

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