Traditional architecture stands above a shopping street in central Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photographer: Freya Ingrid Morales/Bloomberg)

Shaping Structures: The Books Architects Read

A new strategy for modern architecture and colonial influence, essays by the celebrated architect Charles Correa, the work of women architects, and history and archaeology of India. These are among the favourite reads of the three architects BloombergQuint spoke to.

Here’s the list of books that inspired them to build better:

AG Krishna Menon

He is an architect, urban planner and conservation consultant. In 2004, Menon drafted the INTACH Charter for the Conservation of Unprotected Architectural Heritage and Sites in India. He’s currently the convener of the Delhi chapter of INTACH. He was the first dean of studies at TVB School of Habitat Studies.

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(Image courtesy:

Complexity And Contradiction In Architecture, By Robert Venturi

This book redefined the strategy of architecture. At a time modernism was at its heyday, this book changed the context of architecture strategy by referring to historical and experiential precedents as strategies for architecture design, according to Menon. Whereas modernism was about aesthetic abstractions, Venturi celebrated the complex reality of everyday experience, he said.

Shaping Structures: The Books Architects Read

Traditions In Indian Architecture, By Giles Tillotson

In this book, Tillotson said modernism in Indian architecture was rooted in colonial architectural practices, and wasn’t influenced by European modernism that Indian architects emulated after 1947, according to Menon. “This gave an entirely different twist to the search for an Indian identity in modern Indian architecture by bringing in considerations of colonial influence.”

Sameep Padora

Padora is the principal architect and founder of sP+a, a Mumbai-based architecture studio. He received the World Architecture News, WAN 21 for 21 Award, and was a nominee for the BSI Swiss Architecture Award 2014.

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In Praise Of Shadows, By Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

This is an incredible book that explains Japanese buildings, their spatial and formal characteristics through the lens of Japanese culture and its imbibed value, in less than 80 pages, Padora said.

The Collected Essays Of A.K. Ramanujan, By AK Ramanujan

There’s an essay in this book—Is there an Indian Way of Thinking—that attempts to orient one’s search from being about a singular identity to the search for a systemic framework and to respond to the diversity of the Indian context, according to Padora. “This holds as true for design methodology and process as much as it does for life in general.”

Codex Seraphinianus, By Luigi Serafini

This book is about the incredible imagination of the architect Luigi Serafini. It has hand-drawn images in a manuscript where he re-imagines the world and its inhabitants, accompanied with undecipherable text supposedly without meaning but unbelievably engaging, according to Padora.

A Place In The Shade, By Charles Correa

This book is a collection of essays by Charles Correa. “His buildings are touchstones for Indian contemporary architecture,” Padora said. “His texts compiled in this book are perhaps as influential as his incredible body of built work.”

Shaping Structures: The Books Architects Read

Brinda Somaya

An architect and urban conservationist, Somaya has over four decades merged architecture, conservation and social equity in projects, showing that progress and history need not be at odds.

(Image courtesy: Brinda Somaya)&nbsp;
(Image courtesy: Brinda Somaya) 

Women Architects In India: Histories Of Practice In Mumbai And Delhi, By Mary N Woods

There are very few books that document the work of women architects in India from the early 20th century, according to Somaya. “Professor Woods transports us to the work of women architects in today’s India.”

Shaping Structures: The Books Architects Read

The Death And Life Of Great American Cities, By Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs and her various books have always inspired me personally, Somaya said. “This particular book is relevant to the India of today even though it was first published in 1961. It is truly a monumental work.”

Shaping Structures: The Books Architects Read

India: A Sacred Geography, By Diana L. Eck

Author Diana L. Eck received her first degree from Smith College, U.S. which is also my alma mater, Somaya said, adding that the author’s knowledge of India and her ability to understand the spirit of India is truly unique. “The book is an extraordinary spiritual journey through our country.”

Shaping Structures: The Books Architects Read

Land of the Seven Rivers, By Sanjeev Sanyal

“I have always been interested in history and archaeology, and Sanjeev Sanyal’s book brings a new slant to our history by describing how it was shaped by India’s geography,” Somaya said.


Somaya also recommended A Place In The Shade by Charles Correa.