Through a progressive series of exercises - accompanied by observational studies, examples and applied theory - Conversations with Form: A Workbook for Students of Architecture improves designers’ understanding, dexterity and resilience in making form. It specifically focuses on the skills needed to succeed in the everyday context in which the vast majority of architects will ultimately design and build, wherein no one designs in isolation and existing conditions never represent a tabula rasa.
The text begins by familiarizing readers with utilizing step-by-step sequences of moves to steer the development of built form and rapidly moves to designs of increasing complexity. These design plays treat a wide-ranging series of topics including structures, patterns, types, systems and other kinds of shared form principles. Conversations with Form is a workbook for honing hands-on skills and tools of the architect’s trade. Beautifully illustrated and focused on practical, usable information, the book provides architectural students with an accessible and useable handbook for their design practice.
Table of Contents
Introduction Design Plays 1. Zones of Transition 2. Articulating Exterior Building Form 3. Designing in Longitudinal Section 4. Designing in Cross-Section 5. Visualization and Resilience 6. Working with a Primary Architectural System 7. Combining Systems and Controlling Complexity Afterword Additional Background Index
N. John Habraken is a Dutch architect and educator. He served as Founding Director of the SAR Foundation, Founding Chair of the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at Eindhoven Technical University, and Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is currently Professor Emeritus. Habraken is the recipient of many awards worldwide, notably including honorary membership in the Architecture Institute of Japan. He is the author of numerous books including Supports: An Alternative to Mass Housing, The Structure of the Ordinary: Form and Control in the Built Environment, and Palladio’s Children. He is also co-author of Variations: The Systematic Design of Supports.
Andrés Mignucci is a Puerto Rican architect and urbanist. He studied architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and subsequently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a Master of Architecture degree in 1982. In 1988, he founded Andrés Mignucci Arquitectos in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His work has received numerous design awards including the National Architecture Prize in 2001 and 2002 and the Henry Klumb Prize in 2012. He teaches design at the University of Puerto Rico, is the author of books including Arquitectura Contemporánea en Puerto Rico 1976-1992, and, Contexts: Parque Muñoz Rivera and the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Mignucci is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
Jonathan Teicher is an American designer and writer. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Comparative Literature from Washington University. He has received awards for his architecture and urban design teaching and served as national Coordinating Director of Education at the American Institute of Architects. Mr. Teicher has practiced architecture and urban design in the US, France, Japan and Australia, winning awards for projects including a dog house in San Francisco, a Chinese cultural center in Boston and a 9-building complex on the Pennsylvania State University campus. His has previously edited three architecture books by John Habraken.
'Habraken, Mignucci & Teicher have produced a book that is fundamental for students – and perhaps, even more so, for practising architects. It outlines a series of exercises (or design plays) that will increase your observational as well as your design skills. Each play is lucidly presented, together with cogent examples. Given the state of our profession today, that’s just what the doctor ordered.' - Charles Correa, Architect, planner and educator. RIBA Royal Gold Medalist, UIA Gold Medalist and recipient of Japan’s Praemium Imperiale
'Habraken, Mignucci and Teicher improve the "reset effect" of modern thought and technology in architecture and urban design by enhancing the ability to learn by observing the history and legacy of cities. Both theoretical and pedagogical, the book is an indispensable tool to project humanized contemporary architecture in the built environment. In architectural sustainability, the main quality is the possibility of change.' - Josep Maria Montaner, Architect and Professor of Theory of Architecture, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona, Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña (ETSAB-UPC)
'Conversations With Form leads students of architecture to discover that design apprenticeship - learning-by-doing - can ultimately be non-academic, original and stimulating. The same holds true for professors of architecture who read it - and for architects, engineers, officers and citizens whose daily practice involves transforming the built environment. Conversations With Form helps us to understand how growth and change have shaped and conferred texture to the built environment in the past . . . and to what extent a built environment that is capable of successfully accommodating growth and change can be envisaged and planned, freeing itself from current functional, abstract, standardized, repetitive and interchangeable codes. A truly useful and beautiful book, it also confirms that design is a good way to decode and interpret the processes that have moulded historic cities and their contemporary expansion.' - Franco Mancuso, Architect, Faculty of Architecture, Università IUAV di Venezia, Italy
'A unique antidote to the hothouse ego promotion and focus on special buildings which characterises most current architectural education. Through a series of seven sketch exercises (design plays), this work immerses designers in the wisdom of the generally neglected everyday environments which we inhabit and have adapted from ancient times to this century. It provides the skills and understanding to engage effectively with them while its precedent documentation is an invaluable reference resource for every student’s and practitioner’s tablet.' - Ivor Samuels, urban geographer and co-author of Urban Forms: The Death and Life of the Urban Block
'John Habraken has been a quiet hero of place-sensitive and humane design for a half century. He and his co-authors make the compelling, definitive case that architecture is not autonomous, but is part of both a language of form and an ongoing social/urban contract. This book is a thorough illumination of canonical modernist and traditional designs as visual conversations. It is long overdue for students and practitioners, who have been so mired in self-indulgent, self-referential and sensational form-making.' - Doug Kelbaugh, Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning and former Dean,Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, USA
'Conversations With Form is a big contribution to the discussion between form and content. It situates content based on experience, knowledge and society into architectural form: a starting point for every architectural discussion; and a development which is so reasonable and necessary in our times.' - Dietmar Eberle, Principal and Architect, Baumschlager Eberle Lustenau, Austria
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