What are some design theory books to consider adding to our shelves?
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What are some design theory books to consider adding to our shelves?

What are some design theory books to consider adding to our shelves?
By Editorial Staff -

The Plan Journal (TPJ) intends to disseminate and promote innovative, thought-provoking and relevant research, studies and criticism in architecture and urbanism. The criteria for selecting contributions [is] innovation, clarity of purpose and method, and potential transformational impact on disciplinary fields or the broader socio-cultural context. The ultimate purpose of the TPJ is to enrich the dialog between research and professional fields, in order to encourage both applicable new knowledge and intellectually driven modes of practice. (Maurizio Sabini, Editor-in-Chief of The Plan Journal)

 

THE PLAN LOOKS AT SEVERAL BOOK REVIEWS IN THE THEORY SECTION OF THE JOURNAL

We are sharing some illuminating literary criticisms from The Plan Journal that we found particularly engaging. The first book review is from TPJ’s most recent themed issue— The Good Material. In this contribution entitled The Materiality of Architecture, the author Stamatina Kousidi describes the publication by Antoine Picon as “offering a fascinating breadth of textual sources.” 

Eszter Polonyi’s book review “Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Modernism and Its Discontents” shares that “in a 1961 article dedicated to the state of the architectural curriculum entitled “The Future of the Past,” the German historian, critic, and educator Sibyl Moholy-Nagy placed a photograph of an interior court of an embassy designed in 1959 in juxtaposition with one of a factory interior from 1920 and that of a twelfth-century cathedral. Certain commonalities in structure become apparent when the images are viewed side by side.” In “Lake of the Mind. A Conversation with Steven Holl,” the author Christopher Platt asks: “Is there anything new to discover about Steven Holl’s working methods that has not already been written about?” In the book review “Exhaltation of Apartness” ‘The Building’,” the author Christophe Van Gerrewey calls “The Building, a thought-provoking book edited by José Aragüez - Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and a PhD candidate at Princeton.”

Finally, in the book review “Marco Frascari’s Dream House. A Theory of Imagination,” the author Franco Pisani’s experience reading the book was:

…like taking a “deep breath” (largo respiro) of fresh air in the “mephitic” atmosphere of glossy make-up. The book has managed to promote my physical and mental health on the one hand and efficiency on the other by triggering daydreaming and imagination.

>>We encourage you to browse The Plan Journal and explore for yourself.

 

Relevant Respite Reading

In her book review of The Materiality of Architecture by Antoine Picon (2020), the author Stamatina Kousidi describes Picon’s work as: “Demonstrating a breadth of scholarship that weaves together meaning from different historical eras and cultural environments, the book makes a significant contribution to a broader corpus of recent works that focus on the lens of materiality from a historical perspective.” 

Kousidi continues: 

The novelty of Antoine Picon’s study lies in its remarkable ability to interweave knowledge from the architectural theory and history, and from a wide range of further epistemological fields, among them philosophy, science and technological studies, performance art, and neuroscience, so as to illuminate how the notion of architectural materiality has evolved, enabling us to establish our relation to the physical world as well as to others.

>> The article is available in The Plan Journal Volume 6/2021 – Issue 2 in TPJ (in English)

Eszter Polonyi’s book review “Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Modernism and Its Discontents” shares that “Moholy-Nagy is neither the first nor the last established female author to vanish from the collective pool of scholarly references after her death, it is worth considering both her work and its reception for reasons why this happened.”

Polonyi adds:

As Heynen herself suggests in her chapter, “Vernacular Architecture and Uses of the Past,” Moholy-Nagy discerned in the surfaces of anonymous architecture a discriminatory judgment, appreciation of chance, and a combinatory historical imaginary that appeared to solve planning problems through embodied methods.


>>The article can be found here in TPJ (in English)

In “Lake of the Mind. A Conversation with Steven Holl,” the author Christopher Platt suggests that the book by Diana Carta would be “attractive for student audiences on modest budgets and an endless digital library at their fingertips; a cohort which may appreciate a little gem of a book when they come across it.” 

Platt concludes to describe Carta’s book as a “tiny but inspiring work.” 

>> The article is available in The Plan Journal Volume 4/2019 – Issue 1 in TPJ (in English)

In the book review “Exhaltation of Apartness” ‘The Building’,” the author Christophe Van Gerrewey explains that the “intentions of [the editor] Aragüez in organizing the symposia in 2014 that led to The Building were nevertheless justified, although architectural culture in the twenty-first century is too vast, fragmented and diverse to be reduced to his analysis, and exactly that is the problem.”

Van Gerrewey describes the texts within the book as “critical but interpretative writing about buildings reveals their common importance - as works of architecture in which every component not only tries to shelter human bodies but also human minds.”

>> The article is available in The Plan Journal Volume 3/2018 – Issue 1 in TPJ (in English)

In the book review “Marco Frascari’s Dream House. A Theory of Imagination,” the author Franco Pisani suggests that the book’s “pages offer powerful insights into a future where traditional and modern tools, digital and analogic media will serve as tools once again instead of being the goals of design.”

Pisani continues to describe the book to have “powerful optimistic suggestions to envision a future where design (il progetto) will return to its exclusive role: to envision inspiring spaces that help us realize vita beata.”

>> The article is available in The Plan Journal Volume 2/2017 – Issue 1 in TPJ (in English)

 

Why support + read TPJ?

The Plan Journal is intended to disseminate and promote innovative, thought-provoking, and relevant research, studies, and criticism related to architecture and urbanism. The journal grew out of an awareness that academia is all too often engaged in research that’s disconnected from the real-world challenges that face different professions, and that research is only possible for a small number of professional organizations, and, even then, with limited platforms for its dissemination. The overarching aim of TPJ is therefore to enrich the dialogue between researchers and professionals so as to foster both pertinent new knowledge and intellectually driven modes of practice.

 

How does it work + why does it matter?

Prospective contributors are encouraged to submit proposals or complete manuscripts to the Editor-in-Chief. Subject to positive feedback, proposals can then be developed into complete manuscripts and submitted for review, using the dedicated portal on the TPJ website. 

After preliminary approval, manuscripts will be forwarded to suitably qualified people for commenting. TPJ is committed to following a rigorous double-blind peer review process using at least two reviewers. The Editor-in-Chief may also occasionally invite recognized academics, critics, or professionals (including members of the editorial board) to contribute to the journal without going through the peer review process, if warranted by the author’s reputation.

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