How buildings learn

what happens after they're built

243 pages

English language

Published Jan. 4, 1995 by Penguin Books.

OCLC Number:

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (1 review)

Buildings have often been studies whole in space, but never before have they been studied whole in time. How Buildings Learn is a masterful new synthesis that proposes that buildings adapt best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants, and that architects can mature from being artists of space to becoming artists of time. From the connected farmhouses of New England to I.M. Pei's Media Lab, from "satisficing" to "form follows funding," from the evolution of bungalows to the invention of Santa Fe Style, from Low Road military surplus buildings to a High Road English classic like Chatsworth -- this is a far-ranging survey of unexplored essential territory. More than any other human artifacts, buildings improve with time -- if they're allowed to. How Buildings Learn shows how to work with time rather than against it. - Publisher.

6 editions

Review of 'How Buildings Learn' on Goodreads

4 stars

This is a nice companion to The Timeless Way of Building: a loving mix of photos and interviews of the changes to buildings over time with a fairly dry practical text hammering home that the most livable/workable spaces are those built to last in a way that welcomes and expects and budgets for change and continual renewal. These books are classics in the software world too, and I finally understand why people compare software and architecture: all the ways that high architecture fails those who live and work in the results are the same as the ways software fails those who must live and bend inside the program's design.


  • Architecture -- Human factors
  • Buildings -- Performance
  • Buildings -- Utilization