Introduction to Architecture

Francis D.K. Ching & James F. Eckler | Wiley (2012)

A collection of writings and illustrations by Francis D.K. Ching collated into a single volume that covers the essentials of architecture and design, with supplemental work by James F. Eckler.


Book Summary

Chapter 1: Introduction

Ching defines architecture as a complex discipline that straddles many lines. It is both an art and a science, an artistic discipline and a technical profession, rooted in both creative process and construction methods. The two halves of the design process—episteme (inquiry) and techne (technique)—is what makes up the design thinking of architecture.

The second key point communicated in the introduction is the concept of scale. Ching says that architecture is not just about buildings, but scales down to spaces and objects, and up to cities as well. All of these scales play an important role in the overall impact of architecture on the people who inhabit it, and allies the field of architecture to that of both Interior Design and Urbanism.

Chapter 2: Early History

In this chapter, Ching outlines not just the history of archetecture, but the history of humanity. Beginning with the river oriented cultures in Africa and Asia around 3000 BCE, he outlines how the earliest cities formed along trade routes, and how their different environments created different cultures and infrastructure needs. From there we saw civilizations grow and collapse, empires rise and fall, and the cities and structures that supported them grow and evolve.

Architecture began to communicate the democratic statehood of Athens, the reason and conduct of Chinese Confucianism, and the self-abnegation of Buddhism. As time went on, wealthy cultures began constructing larger and more ornate palaces and temples. The wealth of empires were concentrated in the cities of Rome, Chang'an, and Teotihuacán, and the unified architecture of the Roman Empire allowed it to leave its imprint across Europe and West Asia.

The influence of transformational new religions like Christianity and Islam left their mark across Europe and Asia, while Buddhism began integrating into China and Japan. As the second millenium began to unfold and Eurasian trade networks coalesced via sea routes, architectural projects to establish superiority and support growing populations flourished.

Chapter 3: Renaissance to Contemporary History


Chapter 4: Form


Chapter 5: Space


Chapter 6: Order


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