Ashraf M. Salama



While design practices are generally seen as a major driver for shaping debates and trends in architecture and urbanism, architectural discourse is typically shaped by discussions in books, journal articles, short essays, and reviews of design trends or critiques of buildings or design competitions. In many cases however, critical essays may have the power to communicate ideas and concepts in a concise manner while books can still be seen by some academics or many practitioners as lacking the capacity to communicate the same ideas or concepts effectively. Whether or not one would agree with this view is a different issue. Yet, as a reaction to such a view it is possible to see book reviews playing the role of short essays or articles which enable readers to grasp the message a book author is trying to convey-yet in a short and quick way. In person-environment research—as part of contemporary architectural discourse—book reviews are important as they provide significant slices of larger arguments, but enable readers to classify, categorize, and relate those arguments to other discourses on theories of architecture and urbanism, and thereby comprehending the full spectrum of issues introduced through a specific period of time.

In this article, I discuss the notion of reviews and book reviews, outline the assignment delivered to architecture students at Queen’s University Belfast, then present selected students’ reviews. While this article is simply a presentation of students’ work, the ultimate objective is to offer a package of ideas and concepts generated in the literature of person-environment interaction as viewed by the students. This is coupled with students’ articulations of and reflections on how the merits and demerits of those ideas and the way in which they relate to such ideas in their reviews. While this article does not reflect on students’ work and does not have a conclusion, it calls for a database that is exclusively dedicated to reviewed books on person-environment interactions, which could be published online on the web of one of the societies or associations concerned with people environment interactions including EDRA-Environmental Design Research Association and IAPS-International Association of People- Environments Studies.

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Markus, T. (1993). Buildings and power: Freedom and control in the origin of modern building. London, UK: Routledge.

Stern, R. (2008). The Architects Journal, 8.


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