Cover image for How buildings work : the natural order of architecture
How buildings work : the natural order of architecture
Allen, Edward, 1938-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1980.
Physical Description:
245 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
Format :

On Order



What do buildings do, and how do they fuction? Edward Allen's new book provides a full and elegantly articulated answer to these fundamental questions about architecture.
"A house of snow in the Arctic obeys the same physical laws as one of bamboo in the tropics," writes Allen, "and a steel-framed skyscraper is not so far removed from a tree house as we would sometimes believe." But the principles involved in the functioning of buildings has never been clearly laid out in one place. Edward Allen's book is the first comprehensive, nonmathmematical physiology of architecture, and will enable lay people as well as professionals to understand how buildings work.
Every chapter of How Buildings Work concisely describes one aspect of building function. Here, for the first time in a single volume, are chapters on thermal considerations in architecture, keeping water out of buildings, reducing danger from fire, fitting buildings to people, the structural behavior of buildings, and much more. Each is a complete introduction to its topic, and each is unique for the clarity and simplicity with which it describes an often complex phenomenon.
Over 300 original illustrations accompany the text to explain key points. A book of design and construction principles, How Buildings Work will take a natural place among the basic books on architecture and building construction. A comprehensive index and glossary of terms make it a convenient reference manual as well.

Author Notes

About the Author:
Edward Allen is Associate Professor of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of several books on building.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

With its homespun drawings and offerings of architectural wisdom for lay readers, this book is like a Whole Earth Catalog building course. In this update of his 1980 edition, however, Allen (architecture, Yale) manages to explain with brevity and common sense "how buildings work." In the opening pages, he places the Earth in the solar system and defines our place on the planet. He then offers analyses of the effects of sun, wind, and cold on building design and location. By focusing primarily on housing, Allen lets readers clearly understand everything from lighting, comfort, and quiet to the basics of making a sturdy structure. He offers occasional but well-placed examples of non-Western design as well. And the illustrations, which look like 1970s instructions for macramé, somehow work. Recommended for general audiences.‘David Bryant, New Canaan P.L., Conn. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.