How Buildings Work (3rd ed.)

The Natural Order of Architecture

by Edward Allen, David Swoboda

Illustrated with hundreds of illuminating line drawings, this classic guide reveals virtually every secret of a building's function: how it stands up, keeps its occupants safe and comfortable, gets built, grows old, and dies--and why some buildings do this so much better than others.Drawing on things he's learned from the many buildings he himself designed (and in some cases built with his own hands), Edward Allen explains complex phenomena such as the role of the sun in heating buildings and the range of structural devices that are used for support, from trusses and bearing walls to post-tensioned concrete beams and corbeled vaults. He stresses the importance of intelligent design in dealing with such problems as overheating and overcooling, excessive energy use, leaky roofs and windows, fire safety, and noisy interiors. He serves up some surprises: thermal insulation is generally a better investment than solar collectors; board fences are not effective noise barriers; there's one type of window that can be left open during a rainstorm. The new edition emphasizes "green" architecture and eco-conscious design and construction. It features a prologue on sustainable construction, and includes new information on topics such as the collapse of the World Trade Center, sick building syndrome, and EIFS failures and how they could have been prevented. Allen also highlights the array of amazing new building materials now available, such as self-cleaning glass, photovoltaics, transparent ceramics, cloud gel, and super-high-strength concrete and structural fibers.Edward Allen makes it easy for everyone--from armchair architects and sidewalk superintendents to students of architecture and construction--to understand the mysteries and complexities of even the largest building, from how it recycles waste and controls the movement of air, to how it is kept alive and growing.

  • Oxford University Press; September 2005
  • ISBN: 9780198036661
  • Edition: 3
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: How Buildings Work
  • Author: Edward Allen; David Swoboda (ill.)
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press

In The Press

"In clear and lucid prose--accompanied by delightful drawings--Ed Allen explains the intricacies of building performance and construction. This new edition of a classic guide will prove of interest to both students of architecture and lay persons alike." --Witold Rybczynski, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Architecture and author of The Perfect House
Acclaim for previous editions:"Whether you're an armchair architect or are planning to design and build your own home, this book helps you grasp the basic concepts." --Popular Science
"With its homespun drawings and offerings of architectural wisdom for lay readers, this book is like a Whole Earth Catalog building course.... By focusing primarily on housing, Allen lets readers clearly understand everything from lighting, comfort, and quiet to the basics of making a sturdy structure." --Library Journal
"Well written, attractively illustrated with line drawings, and handsomely put together." --AIA Journal
"With simple explanations and over 300 illustrations, Allen defines the true functions of buildings and gives advice on how to create a structure that will satisfy all your needs." --House Beautiful Building Manual
"Explains in clear, non-technical language and by ingenious pictures, what buildings do and how they do it." --What's New in Building


About The Author

Edward Allen is an architect and teacher who enjoys explaining things through words and drawings: what makes buildings work, what makes buildings habitable and lovable, how architects' design ideas become reality. He has published nine books on these subjects. He has taught at the University of Oregon, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and lectures worldwide. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and the 2005 recipient of the Topaz Medal for Excellence in Architectural Education.