“Fiction is essential reading for architects because it explores ideas about homes and buildings that are ‘normally repressed’.” -Sam Jacob
by Italo Calvino
Posing as a travelogue (albeit a fantastical one), Invisible Cities is a book built on profound ideas. In the beginning of the novel, an aging Kublai Khan sits with a young Marco Polo as the latter describes the cities he has visited in the course of his journey. There is a city with sixty silver domes and bronze statues, and another with no walls, no ceilings, and no floors. And then there is also a spider-web city whose residents live suspended over an abyss supported by delicate nets, and yet another one made all of glass, and still many others hidden between the pages of the book. Each city represents an idea, and through his rich descriptions, author Calvino allows readers to sit down and savor the book—and thoughts—by slow degrees.
The Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett
Pillars of the Earth, in a nutshell, is a novel about building a cathedral. Set in the 12th century, the book touches on the development of Gothic architecture through the vision of two men: Philip, a monk, and Jack, an architect and skilled stonemason. The story is further enriched by a motley cast of supporting characters, along with the usual set of villains who for one reason or another serve as obstacles to the realization of the plan. Covering a period of several decades, the novel brings to life the great sweep of medieval Europe through a series of interlinked drama with the cathedral as the centerpiece, making Pillars a not only exciting but also deeply satisfying read.
The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
Coming from a long line of architects, Shirley Jackson’s interest in buildings shows in many of her works, including The Haunting of Hill House. Hill House, while well-built and sturdy, is a perfect example of architecture gone wrong. When a team of four decides to spend the summer there to find evidence of the supernatural, they experience not only a series of strange events but also a test to their sanity. What was originally thought to be the expected spooky encounter, soon develops into something much more disturbing. Because Hill House is not simply a place; it is the manifestation of evil itself, ready to claim one of them to be its own.