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How to Read Buildings: A Crash Course in Architecture Paperback – 14 Feb 2008


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How to Read Buildings: A Crash Course in Architecture + How to Read Houses + British Architectural Styles: An Easy Reference Guide (England's Living History)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Herbert Press Ltd (14 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713686723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713686722
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"An ideal book for the traveller, student of architecture or photographer" -- Suite101.com, September 14th 2008

About the Author

Dr Carol Davidson Cragoe is a well-respected academic who specialises in architectural history. She frequently teaches courses at Birkbeck College in London and she is the author of numerous books and papers on architectural history.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 60 people found the following review helpful By M. Cann on 30 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
The book is arranged into short chapters each of which concentrates on one of the major features common to most buildings: doors, windows, arches, stairs, etc. Each page within each chapter discusses a particular period and how the major feature is distinguished in that period - this gives the book a comfortable predictable rhythm, but does on occasion lead to unnecessary repetition if reading the book cover to cover.

The glossary is sufficient for those of us whose vocabulary does not, at the time of starting the book, incorporate the many arhitectural terms used throughout the book.

The illustrations are engravings not photographs, and at the outset I had my doubts that they would be sufficient but for the most part they effectively illustrate the points being made in the text.

The book does not (at this size it can not) cover architecture in much depth, but it does offer an excellent overview that will inspire the reader to read the buildings they encounter from day to day (either in person or on their TV screens). It may also help the reader to understand why the appearance of some buildings can seem unusual or simply uninteresting.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By ceriithomas on 13 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Cragoe makes no assumptions about her readers' knowledge of architecture, yet has managed to provide a surprisingly informative yet concise volume.

She begins by illustrating the features which which help us to identify the function and style of buildings and the construction materials. However, most of the volume is devoted to the features (the towers, windows, domes etc) which provide 'clues' to the period and place. Short yet informative paragraphs complement the engravings, which are painstakingly detailed, despite being small.

Much (possibly most) of this volume is devoted to examples which follow classical and church architecture. There are some references to vernacular houses, shops etc, but they are covered in less detail. Nevertheless, this is an exceptional valuable resource, both for those who are involved in the design process, and for lay readers.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
As a photographer who visits towns and new places, who prefers to carry lenses and lunch rather than hefty books (or digital media - I've yet to catch up on that front), this book seemed ideal; I bought mine from a High St store.

Compact in size - and weight - and with a plastic-coated cover that should be easy to keep clean, that's also slightly bigger than the actual pages (to protect them) this little book has really been designed for the traveller.

I quite like my architecture, but prefer photographing it but often do wonder what bits are called what - and more importantly, what style and period it is, especially when describing a picture to someone!

Now, I'm sure that there are more comprehensive guides out there and possibly more accurate etc, but for what it sets out to do and especially for the price - get it discounted and it's the same as an Ordnance Survey map! The colour-coded but plainly drawn plans are simple and fairly easy on the eye.

No, I do not carry it with me all the time and like so many things in our lives, could use it more but when I do, it's well nigh on perfect. At this time of year, it could easily be one of those (awfully labelled) 'stocking-fillers', a safe and inexpensive gift for someone who remotely has an interest in architecture - even for a schoolchild relative as a hint, an educational guide that may get them becoming the next Sir Norman Foster - it really is that easy to follow. Highly Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. schmidt on 24 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
I know fairly little of architecture, but reading this book has definitely been very interesting and informative. It doesn't go into too much depth on one particular detail, and is laid out so that it starts off more basic and broad in the beginning of the book, slowly going into greater depth on each type of style and various other features (columns, roofs, etc.) The illustrations are also very nice, and no architectural words are used that are not explained in the very extensive glossary, and are usually covered somewhere in the book anyway.
Five star!
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By G. Gilpin on 13 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've always been slightly interested in architecture and bought this book hoping to learn something useful. I enjoyed the way the book is structured - describing columns, vaults, windows etc - with each section taking you through the historical development. The problem is, being a small-format book, the illustrations (which are mainly drawings) are small and sometimes drawn flat-on without the benefit of perspective to provide depth. Also, many of the words used in architecture are esoteric and I felt that I was thrown in at the deep-end so had to keep referring to the glossary.

I can imagine that the book would be a good pocket volume for students, but overall, I was frustrated by it. Having been through the book twice I still woudn't feel confident in describing pendentives or volutes. And I really want to be able to do so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Sales on 19 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book for explaining the different features and styles of buildings throughout the decades and centuries we've lived in them. Using simplified drawings and sketches of well known (and some not so well known but real and existing buildings) the author explains the principles and purpose of the various features.
This is more of a text book to dip into when you want to understand a building, not a book to read from cover to cover - although I did halfway through before coming to this conclusion.
It is small enough to carry around to refer to as and when you see a building and want to understand better why it's build that way it is.
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