Rowan Moore’s best architecture books of 2017

By Rowan Moore

This year's picks take in absurdist humour, a deeply humane memoir and some stunning Italian hallways

Meet the Hon Aeneas Upmother-Brown, Minister for Pop-Uption. Hear how he gives a press conference in Milan, in which squadrons of bees recreate the lost library of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art, while humming Auld Lang Syne. Read about the Placenta, an iconic building whose name will give “a literal sense of place, and also subliminally suggest that as a landmark entity it will be organic and full of transmittable urban nutrients.”

These are inventions of Ian Martin, who for a quarter-century has been lighting up the worthy pages of the Architects' Journal. Among that periodical's useful information on roof insulation, the photographs of quite interesting new schools and the paid-for puffs for the bigger practices, he weekly skewers and detonates the absurdities of the business of building. Like all comic geniuses, he creates his own cosmos, which means you don't have to know everything about architecture to appreciate him. Although one of his strengths is that he does in fact know a lot about architecture, from its obscurely academic end to the cynically commercial.

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