Best Books of 2023 – Architecture and Design

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Brutalist Italy: Concrete Architecture from the Alps to the Mediterranean Written by Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego (Fuel)

We know Italy for its Roman ruins, the Renaissance, the eccentricities of Venice – and every architectural style Excludes Brutal, as it sometimes seems. But this little book is full of sculptural and innovative buildings by architects who escaped the classical legacy of fascism and its historical ubiquity.

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cleaning Written by Kenya Hara (Lars Mueller)

A small, compact book on a big subject, it is a global photographic survey of humans doing the cleaning: sweeping streets and temples, polishing floors, picking up trash. It is certainly the most overlooked activity in architecture and design, but it is also the most universal.

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Piero Portaluppi Edited by Piero Marangi (Skira)

For most of the postwar period, the Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi (1888-1967) barely featured in history, partly because of his enthusiasm for fascism. But in the past decade or so, his innovative architecture, which deftly negotiated tradition, classicism, art deco and modernism, has been rediscovered.

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100 stores of the twentieth century Edited by Susannah Charlton and Elaine Harwood (Twentieth Century Society/Batsford)

In its blend of fashion, popular culture and flair, the store’s design provides the essence of the era. But the way stores are updated means that designs don’t tend to stick around. This collection of some of Britain’s finest survivors, one of Elaine Harwood’s definitive books, is rich in nostalgia.

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Inside Pompeii Written by Luigi Spina (Thames & Hudson)

You might turn this book around and ask where it all went wrong. In this massive volume, Spina’s seductive photographs chronicle lush interiors, mosaics, rich frescoes, and vibrant urban streetscapes. A visual feast.

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Anthology of Blackness: The Case of Black Design Edited by Teresa Musa and Omri Souza (MIT Press)

Originating from the Black Lives Matter movement, this design collection responds to a space where Black voices remain deeply underserved and often unheard. The essays, which address topics including pedagogy, black self-care, and disability discrimination, are somewhat uneven but important in their ambition. Add value and provocation.

Cover of the book Hermann Czech: Architect in Vienna by Eva Kos

Hermann Czech: Viennese architect Written by Eva Kos (Park Books)

Czech, little known outside some architecture circles, is a cult designer, more interested in buildings as backdrop than in showy structures. Heavily influenced by the early modernism of his native city, his multi-storey shops, bars and townhouses reconcile context, history, modernity and ethical concerns.

Tell us what you think

What are your favorites from this list – and what books did we miss? Tell us in the comments below

The year 2023 was written

All this week, Financial Times writers and pundits share their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Works by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Environment by Belita Clark
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thursday: A fantasy novel by Laura Battle and Andrew Dixon
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ Choice

Join our eBook group on Facebook at: FT Books Café

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