Architectural Book of the Year Awards 2023

Architectural Book of the Year Awards 2023

ARTICLES World Architecture Festival

The inaugural Architecture Book of the Year Awards have been announced.

They have been launched this year by The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects, the Temple Bar Trust, and the World Architecture Festival.

Books published in 2020, 2021 and 2022 were eligible. There were about 100 entries; there are seven category winners and three special prizes.

The overall winner will be announced in the autumn.

Download the press release here.

The categories

1. History

Winner: Fabio Barry, Painting in Stone (Yale University Press).

Citation: This remarkable book provides a tour de force account of the different ways in which marble was used as a building material from the earliest urban civilisations up until the Italian Baroque. Exquisitely illustrated, the text’s insightful analysis and temporal sweep are deeply impressive. The author traces the contribution of marble not merely in terms of its own intrinsic aesthetic qualities, but also how this stone is able to modulate light to create intangible and ephemeral architectural effects.

Highly commended: Lukasz Stanek, Architecture in Global Socialism (Princeton University Press).

Citation: In proposing that architects in the former Soviet Bloc were engaged during the Cold War era in constructing alternative models not merely at home but also abroad – which the author terms ‘socialist worldmaking’ – this innovative examination of cities in Africa and the Middle East reveals the range and diversity of buildings created by protagonists from socialist countries for those living in the so-called ‘Third World’.

Judges: Professor Murray Fraser; Simon Henley; Professor Elizabeth McKellar

2. Biography/Autobiography

Winner: Justin Beal, Sandfuture (MIT Press).

Citation: Sandfuture is remarkable and original. What could have been another narcissistic account is a fascinating description of the tension between the formal assuredness and psychological fragility that illuminates the myriad difficulties of Minoru Yamasaki’s career. Justin Beal’s interweaving of vignettes from his own life as architect-artist-writer with Yamasaki’s, between the totemic catastrophes of Pruitt Igoe and the World Trade Center, is extraordinarily resonant, charting our disenchantment with Utopian Modernism. Something profound about our fallible lust to improve life is unveiled as Beal interpolates his own and his partner’s physical experiences, to good, if sometimes puzzling, effect. Recommended for anyone thinking about a life in architecture.

Highly commended: Nigel Coates (RIBA Publishing, Lives in Architecture series).

Citation: Making his name early at the AA, Nigel Coates set out to liberate architecture from its macho-techno stays, leaping theatrically beyond PoMo’s stilted puns. For which he remains unforgiven, despite the enthusiasm with which his accessible, emotive ‘narrative’ architecture was embraced, particularly in Tokyo. He presents himself in a scenography of shifting taste and style, pedagogic and professional, subtly undermined (no more than hinted at) by prejudice and naysaying. There is surely no other architect who could with such brio, drop so many names from the cultural demi-monde. Written in his house above Italy’s Val d’Orcia in the pandemic, the book’s mood of quiet reflection provides a gentle coda to a hitherto hectic life. Coates provides a vivid, perceptive account of a key period in which the orthodoxies had a run for their money. A thoughtful, generous, rebel-with-a-cause dedicated to the hedonistic challenging of mediocrity and conformity. Bravo.

Judges: Eric Parry; Lee Mallett; Gillian Darley

3. Monograph (building)

Winner: Stefi Orazi, Golden Lane Estate. An Urban Village (Batsford).

Citation: This book was judged to be refreshingly independent, being both celebratory but also critical at times of the estate’s design. It was particularly praised for bridging the gap between a general and specialist audience, as well as for the clarity of its design and success of its ‘collage-like’ structure, with four distinct sections – history / interviews with residents / photography / plans – working well together to provide a broad perspective on the scheme. The clear presentation of plans was particularly liked, underlining how, though this is a 60-year-old scheme, its design and planning still provides valuable lessons for today in how good housing can be an enabler of a good life for its residents.

Highly commended: The City Works: Eric Parry Architects, edited by Ian Latham and Chris Foges (Right Angle Publishing).

Citation: This book was commended for its beautiful design. It was liked for its thorough analysis of a series of schemes while also being a book that could be ‘dipped into’, offering useful insights on many aspects of the planning and design process: ranging from the differences between working in Westminster vs City, to commissioning and working with artists. Judged as being an exemplar of an architects’ own monograph that is ‘more than just a PR job’, it provides a rich perspective on a body of work, that is usefully greater than the sum of its parts

Judges: Rob Wilson; Glen Howells; Catherine Croft

4. Monograph (typology) Winner: John Brennan, Scotland’s Rural Home.Nine stories about contemporary architecture (Lund Humphries).

Citation: One of remarkably few of the entries to try to define a typology, this book explores a selection of recently completed homes in the Scottish countryside. A few are additions to existing structures, some of them ruinous and in enviable settings. All are well illustrated with specially drawn plans and occasional sections which makes some architectural analysis possible. The texts are well written and clear, fulfilling the promise of the subtitle. Given the topicality of Scottish identity, the book opens a discussion about the extent to which contemporary rural architecture, working alongside its wonderful landscape, might help to define it.

Judges: Jeremy Melvin; Cindy Walters; Niall McLaughlin

5. Monograph (practice) Winner: Being Ted Cullinan, edited by Alan Berman and Ian Latham (Right Angle Publishing).

Citation: Produced as a tribute to the late Ted Cullinan, one of the leading architects of his generation, this slim but dense collection of essays by peers, friends and historians offers a rare depth of insight into its subject. Taken together, the mix of anecdote and analysis provides a detailed overview of Cullinan's life, work and influence, but it's equally rewarding to open at any page and start reading. Highly commended: Evans + Shalev, with an introduction by Joseph Rykwert (Circa Press). Citation: This carefully assembled and beautifully designed survey of built and unbuilt works by Evans + Shalev has a rigorous order and elegance that match its subject. With an emphasis on visual information – particularly drawings – it stood out for the judicious selection of material and consistency of presentation.

Judges: Jo Bacon; Chris Foges

6. Technical

Winner: Daniel A Barber, Modern Architecture and Climate (Princeton University Press).

Citation: A meticulously researched and beautifully written account of 60 years of clever design by modernist architects whose buildings were ‘environmental filters’. It alters perspective on twentieth century architecture – revealing fundamental principles and false trails – to stimulate and inspire as a consequence. This is a very well researched book about façade design as an integrated climate moderating system; its references to mid-20th century architecture provide a worthwhile technical reference for architects designing for today’s climate emergency.

Judges: John Lyall; John Robertson; Lynne Sullivan

7. City/country guide Winner: Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell, Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories (RIBA Publishing).

Citation: Charting new territory for our discipline and in a guidebook layout/format, it is clearly a passion project. Its purpose is very clear, expressed in the introduction, offering a deeper reading of the way countries adopt and carve out safe space in cities. We liked its international scope and range of visual representation and voices – definitely a book for and of our time.

Judges: Victoria Thornton; Roger Zogolovitch; Samantha Hardingham

There are three special prize-winners selected by the organizers, covering subjects outside the scope of the formal categories:

1. Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture, General Editor Murray Fraser; Managing Editor Catherine Gregg (Bloomsbury/RIBA/University of London)

Citation: The 21st edition of this classic work, in two impressive volumes, is a testament to the ongoing commitment to continuity of architectural publishing and to the history of a increasingly complex subject.

2. Speculations – Peter Cook (Circa Press)

Citation: Beautifully produced, this visual treat is a reminder of the power of architectural drawing and painting to inform the process of design, and to investigate conditions and contexts beyond conventional methods of analysis.

3. A posthumous award to Elain Harwood, for her contribution to architectural history, scholarship and publishing.

Citation: Elain was one of our judges for this year’s awards, and her premature and unexpected death was a shock to her fellow judges and to the world of architecture as a whole. Two of her books were eligible for this years awards, but we decided it would be more appropriate to award a special prize, in the hope that this may be a precedent for future awards, with her name attached, related to 20th century British architecture.

Download the press release here.

Press inquiries: Paul Finch (World Architecture Festival), email

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