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How Buildings Learn

What Happens After They're Built

by Stewart Brand

Buildings have often been studies whole in space, but never before have they been studied whole in time. How Buildings Learn is a masterful new synthesis that proposes that buildings adapt best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants, and that architects can mature from being artists of space to becoming artists of time.

From the connected farmhouses of New England to I.M. Pei's Media Lab, from "satisficing" to "form follows funding," from the evolution of bungalows to the invention of Santa Fe Style, from Low Road military surplus buildings to a High Road English classic like Chatsworth-this is a far-ranging survey of unexplored essential territory.

More than any other human artifacts, buildings improve with time-if they're allowed to. How Buildings Learn shows how to work with time rather than against it.

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Recommendations: 1

Categories: ArchitectureArtHistory

Reading time: 910 hours


Kevin Kelly
Executive Editor

Stewart Brand wrote a book that I really found changed my mind about the spaces that I live in, the structures that we work in, the buildings that surround our lives. His book is called How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand. It’s an illustrated book with lots of pictures, but the main thesis of this book is that when you make a building, when you build something, when you build a structure, when you build a home or office building or even a factory, you’re making a prediction about what you think it’s going to be used for because you’re going to design it for certain uses in mind. Like all predictions, most of these buildings will be not used over the longterm for what they were originally built for.