1st Edition

How to Read Architecture An Introduction to Interpreting the Built Environment

By Paulette Singley Copyright 2019
    410 Pages
    by Routledge

    410 Pages
    by Routledge

    How to Read Architecture is based on the fundamental premise that reading and interpreting architecture is something we already do, and that close observation matters. This book enhances this skill so that given an unfamiliar building, you will have the tools to understand it and to be inspired by it. Author Paulette Singley encourages you to misread, closely read, conventionally read, and unconventionally read architecture to stimulate your creative process.

    This book explores three essential ways to help you understand architecture: reading a building from the outside-in, from the inside-out, and from the position of out-and-out, or formal, architecture. This book erodes boundaries between the frequently compartmentalized fields of interior design, landscape design, and building design with chapters exploring concepts of terroir, scenography, criticality, atmosphere, tectonics, inhabitation, type, form, and enclosure. Using examples and case studies that span a wide range of historical and global precedents, Singley addresses the complex interaction among the ways a building engages its context, addresses its performative exigencies, and operates as an autonomous aesthetic object. 

    Including over 300 images, this book is an essential read for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of architecture with a global focus on the interpretation of buildings in their context.

    Introduction: Ground Rules

    Part 1 Reading Between the Lines

    Chapter 1 Engraving

    Chapter 2 Inscription

    Part 2 Outside-In Architecture

    Chapter 3 Terroir

    Chapter 4 Scenography

    Chapter 5 Criticality

    Part 3 Inside-Out Architecture

    Chapter 6 Atmosphere

    Chapter 7 Tectonics

    Chapter 8 Inhabitation

    Part 4 Out-and-Out Architecture

    Chapter 9 Type

    Chapter 10 Form

    Chapter 11 Enclosure


    Paulette Singley is a widely read architectural historian and theorist whose work expands the disciplinary limits of architecture across diverse subject matter such as food, film, and fashion. She is a Professor of Architecture at Woodbury University in Los Angeles, California. She received a Ph.D. from Princeton University, an M.A. from Cornell University, and a B.Arch. from the University of Southern California. She co-edited Eating Architecture, the first book to explore the intersections of architecture and the culinary arts. She also co-edited Architecture: In Fashion and has published chapters in several anthologies as well as essays in architecture journals such as Log and Assemblage.

    "Beautifully written, Paulette Singley’s How to Read Architecture is a call to action to return to reading buildings closely. If contemporary architecture is increasingly designed for Instagram, Singley’s work is a vividly uncovers the meaning embodied in great works of architecture. This book has many uses: it will be a joyous read for sophisticated lovers of architecture, a rich manual as well as a manifesto for practicing architects, and a thorough introduction for those new to the field. Read it and start reading buildings."

    Kazys Varnelis, Director of the Network Architecture Lab and co-founder of AUDC


    "Paulette Singley’s How to Read Architecture is an elegant guide to those without a guide book. It raises the use of the prepositions of ‘within’, ‘without’, and ‘with’ to an organising principle that promotes the relational aspect of architecture and its situatedness."

    Polly Gould, Author of Antarctica, Art and Archive (2010), reviewed for Site-Reading Writing Quarterly