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How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built Paperback – Oct 20 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (Oct. 20 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140139966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140139969
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 27.5 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 816 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #90,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By M. Yeo on Oct. 17 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
After reading this book in its entirety I have frequently returned to revisit chapters. A well researched book. If you are an architecture critic or feel "holier than thou", it might not be for you.
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By Robert Kelly on Aug. 25 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Recommended by John Brown of Housebrand. Generally liked it, great perspective on function in design. A little dated now, and I question his underlying argument that "style" isn't functional. For some of us, having nail holes line up is as functional as having a staircase in the right place. Appreciation of beauty is a function.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By misterbeets on Oct. 5 2003
Format: Paperback
The best part of this book is its historical photos, a history of our society told by its buildings. Worst part is its premise: that once we understand the importance of adaptability in buildings, we will build differently.
The fact remains building owners will never pay more than is necessary to meet their forseeable needs. (And if it weren't for building codes, even health and safety would be compromised.)
Another point: Although he values ordinary buildings, and wants an architecture free of pretense, pretense of some sort is the essence of architecture, which, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, begins where function ends. Do we really want a world of plain utilitarian structures?
So the book ends up being more of a criticism of our short-sighted culture, using buildings as examples. The arguments may not hold water, but the vast amount of research that obviously went into this book to document how buildings change over the decades still makes it interesting.
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Format: Paperback
Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn: What happens after they're built is as much a reflection of his life as it is about architecture. This potent clearly written essay provides valuable insights for a wider ranging audience while poking fun at established norms in the information age. Depreciatory of modernism casting doubt on the success of popular monuments paying homage to their creators, Brand does not limit his criticism of Wright for Falling Water in southwestern Pennsylvania or I.M. Pei's Media Lab Building at MIT. The strength of the book is the candid and thoughtful approach, interrelating complex issues with simple strands. Weaving a tale of old stuff in a new world, Brand proposes that buildings are most useful to their occupants and neighbors when they adapt. He assures that change will happen and that the only enduring monuments are those that can transform with time. Brand relies on a variety of primary and secondary sources and reinforces his examples with candid photographs, often visually comparing and contrasting to make his points. For each of these archetypes he tests the building against its function to perform basic living needs. He candidly makes observations without concern for political correctness within the broader architectural community.
Proposing six shear levels within a building based on their ability to temporally adapt, How Buildings Learn uses Site, Structure, Skin, Services, Space, and Stuff as a highly successful outline in delivering its message (p. 13). One source attributes this paradigm to that developed by British architect and historian F. Duffy's "Four S's" of capital investment in buildings. The site is eternal, yet often ignored by architects. The structure is most permanent defining the form and lasting 30 to 300 years.
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Format: Paperback
Stewart Brand's "How Buildings Learn" is a well put together book on a
rarely addressed topic. By well put together I mean that it is not only well
written, but well illustrated. The photographs are excellent and help explain
the topic under discussion.
The book is about how buildings change over time. Brand shows numerous
examples of how different buildings have changed with use. More important he
explains what makes a building that can improve and adapt to new uses as it
ages. This is important for architecture since builds often last longer than the
people who design and build them. At some point they may be put to uses that
were never anticipated when they were built.
The author, who is an architect, is highly critical of how his colleges
design buildings. Most buildings are designed without any thought for the
occupants. Nor is any thought given to the uses the building will be put to in
the future. Few buildings are designed so they can adapt to unanticipated uses.
In brands opinion the more impressive the design of the building the less useful
it will be to it's occupants.
Brand offers advise and examples on how to make a building that will last
and be used and loved by its occupants for a long time. These rules are fairly
simple. Several good examples are included. This is the most important part of
the book.
I read this book about architecture even though I am not an architect and
have no particular interest in the subject. This book was worth while because of
the ideas for how to design something complex and long lived so that it will
remain useful. This can be applied to software engineering just as well as
architecture. I do not know of any better discussion of the subject.
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Format: Paperback
the point made by the author is a very good one: we all have to look at the way buildings were once built and integrate the intrinsic knowledge into what we architects are doing today. The pictures in the book are very interesting and illustrate this beautifully. Regrettably the author continues his point in a way that is less convincing, by critisizing every main building breakthrough of the last century and concluding that the traditional methods were better. Alas, the world did change, and we will have to find new solutions to our worlds' problems by looking ahead aswell as to the past.
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