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How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built Paperback – 9 Jun 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New edition edition (9 Jun 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753800500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753800508
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 2 x 27 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 474,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Author

The best version of the book
The British edition of my HOW BUILDINGS LEARN is much the best, because it is so well printed, and the 250 photographs read very well. Critical remarks about buildings by Richard Rogers, however, were censored out of this edition, thanks to legal threats by Mr. Rogers. They are intact in the American editions. The BBC did a fine 6-part TV series based on the book.

About the Author

Stewart Brand is, with Daniel Hillis, Kevin Kelly, and Brian Eno, a founding member of the Long Now Foundation. He began The Whole Earth Catalogue (10 milllion copies sold, worldwide) & co-founded the Global Business Network.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "mrwilsonyau" on 20 Feb 2004
Format: Paperback
We assume a building is permanent when it's built and will pretty much remain the same. But the reality is that buildings are dynamic, they constantly change, as the owners or occupiers make small or large scale alterations. Brand's book highlights the fact that no building is permanent in its present condition, all buildings must change to adapt, buildings that cease to change, cease to function and are abandoned.
This is a theory backed up by real examples, drawn mainly from the USA, but also from Europe. Using photos from archives Brand records the changes individual buildings go through and the diverse results these demands create. We get to see how the appearance and function of individual buildings change in many real life examples.
The book shows the reader how time adds to a building. He recognises the different pressures for change for different types of buildings: Commercial, residential and institutional buildings, go through.
The author is not an architect, which explains why it is so refreshing, enjoyable and easily read. It has a clear message to all those involved in architecture and building design, that we must be able to build structures that are adaptable. We are given examples of "high road" or signature architecture that can not be changed, and since it can't adapt it is causing real difficulties for its users.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 April 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when I borrowed the American edition from the local library; I was so impressed that I bought the British edition shortly afterwards.
It really makes you think about the nature of buildings and how they can change/adapt over time. Some great photographs too, especially the sets of photographs of the same building over a period of years, illustrating just how fundamentally the appearance/use of a building can change over the course of its lifetime.
Top marks, Mr. Brand! Hope you've got something just as good in the pipeline.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
I read the book about 4 years ago as a sixth Year student of Architect in the UK. Its is excelent and some of the simple diagrams in it influenced my sixth year disertation. As an Architect it is sometimes difficult to read Brands valid criticism of over specific design, but having done so i would recommend it to anyone, particularly Architects.
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Format: Paperback
In "How Buildings Learn" Stewart Brand examines how we change and adapt the buildings around us to meet our ever changing needs. From modest homes to high church, Brand explores the forces that lead to building adaptations and re-use as well as how vernacular building forms are generated from learned experience.

For Architects, Brand's insights reveal important lessons in flexibility of space which can influence not only how we design, but also about the possibilities that can lie in adaptation of old buildings.

Perhaps more importantly however, is what brand reveals about the cycle of Urban development, decline and rebirth. Town Planners and Urban designers (and any city dweller for that matter) should pay head to these key lessons which show how planning rules and restrictions can stifle or promote a vibrant thriving city.

Essential reading for anyone interested in urban renewal and community regeneration.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have ever lived or worked - and suffered - in a building designed by a star architect (or a wannabe - the differences in habitability between them tend to be slight), Brand's book is a must read. Not being an architect himself, he looks primarily at the functional aspects of buildings, as places of habitation and places of work. The book then proceeds to examine how the demands for buildings change over time and what buildings adapt best / what approaches to use to make the adaptation process easiest for the inhabitants.

Brand calls for adaptable and liveable architecture, for buildings which can easily be repurposed to suit the ever changing needs of the inhabitants and which can grow appropriately and sensibly. The focus is also on functionality in the sense that it needs to take precedence over stylistic concerns - especially those, which are achieved at the cost of buildings being functionally impoverished as a result. In keeping with the title not only extensions and remodelling are covered in great detail, the author also devotes sufficient attention to upkeep, maintenance and appropriate design to incorporate those aspects at the construction stage already.

In addition to being a very well illustrated (myriad of evolutionary pictures of the same buildings over time) and easy to read book, one can in many instances use it as a framework as well as a practical guide when making building decisions oneself.
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By Jo0Lz on 23 Mar 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great quality for a secondhand item and rapid shipping as well as well packaged. All ready knew the book was worth a read and flick through the pictures...
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