978-0-19-509100-7 / 9780195091007

How Buildings Work: The Natural Order of Architecture


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

We expect our buildings to do many things: stand up, shelter us from weather, keep us comfortable, provide clean water for drinking and clean air for breathing, dispose of our wastes, give us privacy and security, power everything from tools to toasters, and connect us with the world outside through windows, doors, telephones, and mailboxes. They should be easy to move around in, and shouldn't require excessive expense to maintain.
But how does a building do all this? This is the question Edward Allen addresses so engagingly in the completely revised and updated second edition of How Buildings Work. Illustrated throughout with several hundred clear, sometimes whimsical line drawings, more than half of them from the author's own hand, this easy-to-read work 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. Everyone who has ever asked such questions as "why can't they get the temperature right in here?" "why does my basement flood every summer?" or "can't they build buildings so I don't have to hear my neighbors argue every morning?" will find an answer here.
Drawing on things he's learned from the more than sixty buildings he himself designed, including his own house, 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, showing, for example, how to use the structure itself to mask troublesome noises such as the impact of rain, slamming doors, and the occasional creaks and groans caused by the push and pull of heat and humidity. And he illustrates how all buildings, from a backyard shed to the tallest skyscraper, are never at rest--they continually experience virtually irresistible forces that would tear them to pieces if not taken into account by the designer.
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. How Buildings Work will enlighten and entertain anyone interested in the way things work.

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