Understanding Buildings

Longman UK and MIT USA, 1984

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In his introduction Esmond writes “... as a technical editor at the Architects’ Journal in London, it occurred to me that there was no general, introductory book on the technical subjects in building design. Surely such a book would be useful?” Understanding buildings “answers this question comprehensively...” said one reviewer. Now in its 17th imprint, it was published by Longman in 1984, followed by an American edition by MIT and translations into other European Languages. The approach throughout is to look at the underlying physics in order to understand the building forms that evolve. “... the author’s illustrations, combining a keen eye for architectural detail with a sense of humour, make complex concepts seem simple.”

Chapter headings

Structure How materials resist load and the building forms that result. Column, arch, vault, dome. Beam, truss, frame. Cable surface.

Sustainability In preparation for a new edition planned 2012-13.

Enclosure The factors that shape the building skin – weather protection, daylighting, access, security, buildability, durability.

Climate Services Installations to heat, ventilate and cool.

Utility Services Installations for water, drainage, refuse, power.

Lighting Day and artificial lighting.

Acoustics The physics of sound. How the design controls what we hear.

Fire Safety How layout and equipment protect people in event of fire.

What reviewers have said

Should be required reading in the first years of all schools of architecture.
Canadian Architect

An excellent book ... the coverage is impressively broad and the standard consistently high. Architect’s Journal, London

Lucidly written, it fills a gap ... a text of absorbing interest and worth a close study. Indian Architect and Builder

A simple, multi-disciplinary text on the physical principals underlying building design ... invaluable. Architectural Review, London

Succeeds brilliantly ... clear, three-dimensional and at times witty drawings ... remarkably thorough. Architecture Australia

Comprehensive, a cool survey of the major engineering fundamentals, design and construction. US and Canada Design Book Review