Each week GoArchitect interviews one person with one question: What 3 books have impacted your life in architecture and why?
The 3 books may be from childhood or just last week, the important element is that they helped define their personal or professional life. If you would like to be considered for a future interview, please fill this out.
Founder & CEO at Ubuntu Design Group
Wandile Mthiyane, founder of Ubuntu Design Group, grew up in the shanty towns of Durban, South Africa, and always dreamed of returning to make a difference in his home town. When the Ethekwini Municipality afforded him an opportunity to study at Andrews University, located in Michigan, USA, he was finally able to meet like-minded peers and make this lifelong dream a reality.
With this urgency and desire to help his South African community, Wandile found opportunities to learn from his professors and classmates about engaging his passion for architecture while using these skills as a tool to empower shanty towns back home. This was the birth of Ubuntu Design Group.
From there the Ubuntu team was afforded the opportunity to present the “Half-House Project” during the One Young World Resolution Project Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in 2015. They were awarded a fellowship along with start up funding for UDG.
What 3 books have impacted your life in architecture and why?
Vitruvius, 1st Century B.C.
Christopher Alexander, 1977
Stephen A. Mouzon, 2010
This is one of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever encountered. The biggest revelation from this book was learning how beauty is actually an element or tool for sustainability. Think about it, if someone designs a culturally contextual beautiful building in the community, the people will love that building. If people love that building they’ll take good care of it. If they take good care of it, the building will outlast other buildings that aren’t loved.
In addition to the building being loveable, it needs to be durable and frugal for the community to continue to love it across time. It is a very simple concept with a very profound message. This theory can be best seen in cities like Rome, several small buildings that may have started as shops, turned into apartments and are now vibrant pubs. This theory debunks the current trend of slapping solar panels on an inefficient box and calling it a sustainable building. Most importantly, Steve argues that before we can talk about sustainable buildings we need to start by designing sustainable places, The two concepts are inextricably interconnected.
Have any of these books influenced your life or career in architecture? Leave a comment below and tell us how.