Released on 30 August 2012.

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Why We Build

3.79 based on 131 ratings & 16 reviews on

2014 Winner

CICA Bruno Zevi Book Award


Architecture, good and bad, is shaped by emotions.

In Why We Build Rowan Moore shows how buildings are driven by human emotions and desires – such as hope, power, money, sex, and the idea of home – and how buildings then shape our experiences. He explores the making of buildings from conception to inhabitation, and reveals the paradoxical power of architecture: it looks fixed and solid, but is always changing, in response to the lives around it.

Moore takes us on a personal journey, moving freely across the globe and through history, through works of folly, beauty, spectacle, and subtlety. He uncovers the doomed mansion of an Atlanta multimillionaire, the phenomenally successful High Line in New York, and the remarkable Museu de Arte in São Paulo. He discusses baroque churches and Egyptian pyramids alongside works of the moment. We meet extraordinary characters: Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, the lecherous Stanford White, and Lina Bo Bardi, the most underrated architect of the twentieth century.

Refusing to bow to fashion or reputation, Moore gives a provocative and iconoclastic view of what makes architecture, why it matters, and why we find it fascinating. After reading Why We Build you will never look at a building in the same way again.