Best books of 2022: Architecture and design

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Book cover of Building for Change

Building for Change: The Architecture of Creative Reuse
by Ruth Lang, Gestalten £45

Ruth Lang’s beautifully illustrated book eloquently articulates how the rigour of reuse, of having to think about an existing place, its materials, history and culture, its scars and its texture, makes for a more demanding but almost always a more rewarding architecture. There is no excuse for demolition, architecture is crystallised history as well as carbon.

Book cover of Monumental Lies

Monumental Lies: Culture Wars and the Truth about the Past
by Robert Bevan, Verso £20

The physical fabric of our cities is increasingly being co-opted as a background for the culture wars. From statues of slave traders to pictures of medieval town centres offered as evidence of “cultural superiority”, architecture and public art are everywhere in a coarsened discourse. Robert Bevan, the Evening Standard’s architecture critic, navigates the territory delicately and brilliantly.

Book cover of Designs on Democracy

Designs on Democracy: Architecture and the Public in Interwar London
by Neal Shasore, Oxford University Press £65

Most of the literature about interwar architecture focuses on modernism. Neal Shasore takes a broader view, exploring the diversity of style and the finessing of professional reputation. With studies of the rebuilding of Regent Street, Waterloo Bridge, homes fit for heroes and architecture’s HQ, the RIBA in Great Portland Street, the author creates a rich, unusually nuanced picture of a profession and its position in culture and society.

Tell us what you think

What are your favourites from this list — and what books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below

Book cover of The Pliable Plane

The Pliable Plane: The Wall as Surface in Sculpture and Architecture, 1945-75
by Penelope Curtis, Mack £28

Taking as her starting point the emergence of architects and artists from the bunkers and underground shelters and then the rediscovery of these structures in the 1960s as a kind of dystopian archaeology, Penelope Curtis contends that — from Henry Moore and Marcel Breuer to Paul Virilio and Paul Rudolph — the idea of the wall both divides and unites postwar art and architecture.

Book cover of Brutalist Britain

Brutalist Britain: Buildings of the 1960s and 1970s
by Elain Harwood, Batsford £25

An almost insane amount has been written about Brutalism in the past few years. Its moody concrete, rough grain and sculptural form is almost too photogenic. Much of it is wonderful, more of it is difficult to love yet Elain Harwood makes a pressing case for this era of mostly public architecture as an endangered, if still super-solid layer of our history.

Book cover of Part of a City

Part of a City: The Work of Neave Brown Architect
edited by Patrick and Claudia Lynch and David Porter, Canalside Press £38

Neave Brown’s Alexandra Road Estate in Camden represented the zenith of British council housing; humane, green, communal, successful. The architect lived there himself till his death in 2019. His work was both Brutalist and beautiful, public and intimate and this book from the admirable Canalside press (run by architects Patrick and Claudia Lynch) finally does him proper justice.

Books of the Year 2022

All this week, FT writers and critics share their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Business by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thursday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ choice

Join our online book group on Facebook at FT Books Café

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