This book is about appreciation; it is an attempt to explain what architecture essentially is, rather than merely what it looks like. Architecture an Inspiration is addressed to those who enjoy buildings, cities and landscapes, and would like to have a deeper appreciation and a basis for their likes and dislikes. A full appreciation demands careful observation, and in these pages there are many explorations of this sort. The book is divided into two parts: the first is about the nature of architecture, describing what is necessary. The chapter headings define the basic requirements that, to varying degrees, must always be met, such as facilitating activity, moderating climate, relating to context, respecting materials and structure, as well as conveying meaning and delight. The second part is about the nature of designing and focuses on what the designer brings to the task to arrive at a human and poetic synthesis. These different ways of thinking are elusive and not necessarily conscious; they include the use of reason and intuition, the value of experience and precedent, the role of metaphor and the search for harmony. For students this is difficult, because there is no `right' way of designing. So much of what is written about the architecture of today is negative that it seemed opportune to take a positive approach and point to work that is good - now and in the past - and reiterate some timeless qualities. Architecture an Inspiration does not set out to be comprehensive; Ivor Smith chooses examples that he finds particularly inspiring from the work of a few selected architects. The book will appeal to those both interested in and studying architecture.
Ivor Smith has divided his time between architectural practice and teaching. He first worked in Sheffield City Architects Department where, with Jack Lynn, he designed Park Hill, a pioneer housing redevelopment. This led to housing and university commissions in partnership with Cailey Hutton that won many awards. After teaching at Cambridge University he became Director of the School of Architecture in Dublin, Professor at Bristol and Edinburgh, as well as a founder and consultant to the Caribbean School of Architecture.