If you are about to start your studies in the challenging field of architecture, get yourself a shelf to store the bustling collection of books that will end up in your possession throughout the next few years, and keep reading to discover an essential catalog of books that can’t be missing to start getting ready even before you dive into your first term.


If you are a future architecture student, something you should know is your world as you know it is about to change. Okay, it may have sounded a bit dramatic… But it’s not in a bad way!

Even your vocabulary is going to change now. Sorry, we simply can’t help it. Pillars and columns will start being different things, a person will become a user, weights will now turn into loads, and the most pronounced word by your tongue will be space.

But don’t panic! A visual dictionary of architecture, by Francis D.K. Ching, is the key to start adapting to this new broad vocabulary. In this timeless book, you will find some of the most essential concepts to learn as an architecture beginner. They come in a sketchy format, where every term is accompanied by an explanatory drawing for easy comprehension.

Visual Dictionary ©Amazon


So now that you know a few technical words, it is time to move into practice! In the upcoming years, you are going to spend a noticeable part of your professional life drawing. It doesn’t matter if you are a CAD pro, or if you’d rather present a hand-drawn project, you will need to know everything about scale, projection systems, and proportion.

Even though McMorrough’s topic umbrella is wide, it is the perfect guide to start developing your theoretical skills: what is a section or an elevation? What information should you display on a floor plan? What type of three-dimensional view will best show a detail?  The Architecture Reference + Specification Book: Everything Architects Need to Know Every Day will successfully introduce you to architectural representation.

The ArchitectureReference & Specification ©Amazon

3. ARCHITECT’S DATA – Ernst Neufert

You know something is good when it becomes a brand. Just like you would say you own a Ferrari instead of simply a car, Architect’s Data is simply referred to as the Neufert.

As simple as designing a space may sound at first, there are a few physical things, or data, to take into account in order to do it successfully. You don’t want to design a wonderful living room just to later find that the sofa that was supposed to start it won’t fit through the stairs, right? Nor design a luxury restaurant to end up fitting the wrong number of tables that will make circulation impossible. For all this, this heavy but key book will be your measure reference, specifying the minimum spaces you will need to allow for every bit of your design to work on a practical level.

ARCHITECT’S DATA – Ernst Neufert
NeufertArchitectsData ©Amazon

4. ARCHI-GRAPHIC – Frank Jacobus

If there is an underrated skill at architecture, that is mapping. You probably consider plans are the main representation tool for your project. But the truth is you need to explain much more than just the final result.

A project is a whole set of ideas, evolved and developed through a research process that encompasses information that usually tends to get lost by the time-specific plans are shaped. So how would you present them in a way that they are not isolated from their conceptual idea? Mapping is the answer.

Archi-Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture, by Frank Jacobus, is the perfect book to turn to when you need inspiration for quality graphic content.

ARCHI-GRAPHIC – Frank Jacobus
ArchiGraphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture ©Amazon

5. 100 BUILDINGS – Thom Mayne, Eui-Sung Yi, Val Warke

100 Buildings: 1900-2000 is a different book. And those differences begin with its design. With this one, you can start getting an idea of how a project extends to all levels of design: from the very layout format to the final constructed building.

The book, vertical as a building itself, presents a compilation of the 100 most relevant buildings in the 20th century. But who gets to decide which buildings are listed as the best ones? Over 50 starchitects were asked to propose a list of their top 100, from which the most mentioned ones were chosen. The dots matrix on the front page shows the building-architect matrix, so for each building, you can see a dot for every time it’s been nominated.

Apart from the exhaustive selection process, this book also relies on a “quick and effective” presentation style: a page per project, short but including the most basic information to get to know the main buildings of the last century: name, architect, date, a summary text, a photograph, and 3 high-quality line drawings, both 2D and 3D.

As architecture creates architecture, this book will be your best ally to do background research and start creating architecture yourself.

100 BUILDINGS – Thom Mayne, Eui-Sung Yi, Val Warke
100Buildings 1900- 2000 ©Amazon

6. ARCHITECTURE 101 – Nicole Bridge

But not only has the last century of architecture been of influence. In fact, it is key to understand the history of architecture as a timeline, to know its evolution in the context of political and social and religious history in order to comprehend the reasons behind contemporary design.

Nicole Bridge’s book sums up the main events and designs of each period, alternating building styles with the work of the most influential architects of all time. It tells architecture history in a complete way that will save you from turning into tens of different and tedious books.

ARCHITECTURE 101 – Nicole Bridge
Architecture101 ©Amazon

7. TALK LIKE TED – Carmine Gallo

Last, but not least, every architect should master public speaking. As great as your project is, you will always need to sell it: from a jury at uni to a real client in professional practice, your speaking and presenting ways will make a difference.

Talk like Ted: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds is a dynamic but effective guide to learn how to give a speech just as if you were a real Ted Talker.

TALK LIKE TED – Carmine Gallo

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