What Adults Don’t Know About Architecture

The School of Life

What Adults Don't Know About Architecture
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What Adults Don’t Know About Architecture

The School of Life

Children are rarely introduced properly to architecture, but there are in fact few subjects more important - because the quality of the architecture that surrounds us has such an impact on our mood and sense of well-being.

The bitter truth is that in modern times, we’ve built a world that’s far too often ugly or uncharming - and we’ve done so because only a very few people ever feel they have the right to comment on what gets built around them. This is a chance for the next generation to develop the tools to talk about architecture with confidence, knowledge and passion. It tells us about what a satisfying building is, what makes a street enticing (or not), why some cities are charming and others repel us - and how we might build going forward in a way that will reliably delight and uplift us.

This engaging and beautifully illustrated guide is designed to help children (and their favourite adults) to understand how buildings work and how we might create the better looking world we all crave and deserve.


Winston Churchill said, ‘We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.’ The influence that architecture has on how we live our lives is grand in scale, but easy to miss. The first book in a new series from The School of Life, What Adults Don’t Know About Architecture focuses on helping the reader to find self-understanding and connection. It’s a book aimed at inspiring young minds to build a more beautiful world.

This innovative guide teaches the basic principles of architecture in a relatable style associating concepts with everyday things, like a favourite sports team or creating a recipe. It asks the reader, what kind of person is this building? If this building were speaking to me, what would it be speaking about? By linking architecture with methods that can be easily understood, the book simplifies concepts, engages the mind, and the young reader can begin to see what makes a street enticing, or what might be considered undesirable in a city.

With photography and artwork throughout referencing a wide range of styles from all over the world, including some local Melbourne sites such as the La Trobe Reading Room (‘The Dome’, page 56) in the State Library Victoria, and the Green Chemical Futures building (page 12) at Monash University, this is a clever start to a series that will encourage eager minds to look more deeply. Additionally, we can look forward to What Adults Don’t Know About Art, which is also due to be released on 8 December. Brilliant for Ages 9+.

Claire Atherfold is the manager and the children’s book buyer at Readings State Library.

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