World Book Day

As part of World Book Day 2021, I was fortunate to be asked by Home Interiors writer, Rachael Hale, to take part in a collaborative blog with other design professionals.  I am very grateful to Rachael that she asked; I thoroughly enjoyed taking part, and below is a short piece about one of the most influential books I’ve read.

Details of the full article can be found here:

Contact details for Rachael can be found here: 

We have stacks of books on architecture in the office, but the one I’ve chosen is so thin, it could go unnoticed sitting on a bookshelf, sandwiched between others.  It is ‘Build a House’, written and illustrated by Heinz Kurth.  It’s a paperback Puffin book, and dates from the mid 1970s.  It’s a book aimed at children, and explains in simple narratives, with illustrations, and labelled diagrams, how a house is built.  Considering all of the illustrations are by the author, their styles vary, and include semi-technical illustrations, and simple drawings, both in full colour, and with limited tones as redolent of the era.

I can remember my Mum and Dad organising a trip to a building site for the youth group, and I tagged along – I could only have been around four years old.  This visit, and the book, are fairly vivid very early memories for me, and I suspect had significant influence on my career.

The book is only 28 pages long, and tells a good story.  Significantly, everyone seems very happy in their chosen vocation, and the homeowners seem delighted with the result.

Perhaps it’s a hopelessly romantic view of construction, seen through the lenses of a small boy (even then I wore spectacles), but for a child’s book, it doesn’t shy away from some technical aspects.  I think my favourite image is from page 8, which not only discusses brick bonds, but shows a ‘cast-concrete house’.  This was so radically different from anything I typically saw in the small village where I grew up in the 1970’s, and it captured my imagination.

The book stirs memories, and does make me feel optimistic about the profession I work in.  There is no denying there are challenges with all construction, but as the book so succinctly notes, ‘People need houses for shelter and warmth’, and if we can be part of that process, what an amazing thing it is that we are privileged to do.

Build a House – written and illustrated by Heinz Kurth

ISBN 0 14 049.122 8

A Puffin Book published by Penguin Books.  For the heady sum of 50p.