Exercises in Architecture: Learning to Think as an Architect, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Exercises in Architecture

Learning to Think as an Architect, 1st Edition

By Simon Unwin


224 pages | 731 B/W Illus.

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Architecture is a doing word. You can learn a great deal about the workings of architecture through analysing examples but a fuller understanding of its powers and potential comes through practice, by trying to do it…

This book offers student architects a series of exercises that will develop their capacity for doing architecture. Exercises in Architecture builds on and supplements the methodology for architectural analysis presented in the author’s previous book Analysing Architecture (third edition, Routledge, 2009) and demonstrated in his Twenty Buildings Every Architect Should Understand (Routledge, 2010). The three books taken together deal with the three aspects of learning: description, analysis of examples, and practice.

The book offers twelve exercises, each divided into a short series of tasks aimed at developing a particular theme or area of architectural capacity. The exercises deal with themes such as place-making, learning through drawing, framing, light, , uses of geometry, stage setting, eliciting emotional responses, the genetics of detail and so forth.


'Having assured many students that there are no quick fix injections or architectural jabs available, I have previously extolled the benefits to be derived from a prolonged course of general architectural physiotherapy. From now on I will be more than happy to specifically prescribe Exercises in Architecture.'

Simon Hacker, Lecturer in Architecture at Newcastle University, UK

'By way of a series of written observations, Simon Unwin demonstrates some of the most basic lessons of architecture. With his elegantly drawn examples paired with simple notebook exercises for the reader, Unwin creates a text that interweaves reading, looking, thinking, and making into a series of self-discoveries. This book will challenge both beginning designers and accomplished professionals alike.'

Peter Wong, Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, USA

"Simon Unwin has written the perfect book for all those who have often wondered how architects design. Clear, informative exercises take you through everyday basic design problems architects face when conceiving and developing a building. Exercises in Architecture is a must-have textbook for any university that offers an Understanding Architecture course, for high schools that have design-focused programs, and for any person generally interested in understanding the architectural design process."

Charles P. Graves, Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at Kent State University, USA

'Exercises in Architecture is an extraordinarily accessible text that takes on a great many sophisticated topics fundamental to architectural understanding. The clarity of Unwin’s writing and his superbly crafted drawings will be refreshing and inspiring to both students and faculty. I especially appreciate the attention placed on the process of developing one’s ability to "do" architecture, and the real necessity of using a sketchbook in this process.'

Matthew T. Brehm, Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Idaho, USA

Table of Contents

Prelude: The ‘Architecture’ General Introduction Part 1: Fundamentals Exercise 1: The Substance without SubstanceExercise 2: Flipping Perceptions Exercise 3: Axis (and its Denial) Part 2: Geometries of Being Exercise 4: Alignment Exercise Exercise 5: Anthropometry Exercise 6: Social Geometry Exercise 7: The Geometry of Making Exercise 8: The Geometry of Planning Exercise 9: Ideal Geometry Exercise 10: Symmetry and Asymmetry Exercise 11: Playing with Geometry Part 3: Out into the Real World Exercise 12: Making Places in the Landscape Postlude: Drawing Plans and Sections

About the Author

Simon Unwin has helped students learn to think as architects for over three decades. He is Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Previously he taught architectural design and analysis at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff University. He has lived in Great Britain and Australia, and taught or lectured on his work in China, Israel, India, Sweden, Turkey, Canada and the United States as well as at other schools in the UK and Europe. Simon Unwin’s books are used in schools of architecture around the world. Analysing Architecture has been translated into Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Korean and is currently being translated into Portuguese, Russian and Arabic. He continues to teach at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Design, Drafting, Drawing & Presentation
ARCHITECTURE / Study & Teaching