My Favourite Books: Dr Hossein Rezai, recipient of President’s Design Award 2016

Jun 2, 2017

This is the first of a bimonthly series of book recommendations by President’s Design Award recipients, brought to you by DesignSingapore Council, Urban Redevelopment Authority and [email protected]



Dr Hossein Rezai was awarded a PhD in 1985 for his work on reinforced and pre-stressed concrete structures. He founded Web Structures in 1996 to practise applied engineering design. He has realised many impressive buildings in over 26 countries. Dr Rezai is one of the initiators of fusion engineering, which reconciles the seemingly contradictory agendas of good design with cost efficiency. Here, he recommends three of his favourite books:

Dancing Wu Li Masters

Author: Gary Zukav

Location: Adult Lending

Call no.: English 530.12 ZUK

This is a book on the fundamentals of physics and quantum mechanics by non-scientist Gary Zukav, who learnt about the topics in the book as he wrote them. Written in 1979, the book is a classic and is of vital importance to our understanding of the world around us. There are a number of engaging interviews with scientists who work on the edges of our understanding of the universe, from the smallest elements and atoms, to the largest planets. The complex relationship between the multitude of elements and influences around us are explained in an easy-to-follow manner, using simple language. It is essential for all, from the general public and the practitioners of the built environment, to read and develop a basic understanding of the magical influences around us.

Structures: Or why things don’t fall down

Author: J. E. Gordon

Location: Adult Lending

Call no.: 624.17 GOR

This book on engineering, written by Prof J.E. Gordon, is an elegant and concise guide for anyone who has ever wondered how buildings and bridges stand up. In it, Prof Gordon explains the principles of engineering and the behaviour of materials using day to day experiences in an entertaining and captivating manner, from creases in our clothes, to the origin of the Parthian shot. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever marvelled at the wonders of our natural and built environment.

Architecture and Plurality: Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2016

Author: Mohsen Mostafavi

Publisher: Lars Muller Publishers, 2016

Location: Not available from public libraries

A book by Prof Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, on the 13th cycle of the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) 2016. The book comprises a series of essays, cover topics (such as the public space), architecture, technology, environment and plurality, at a time when the fundamental belief to some of these concepts are questioned by certain powerful quarters. The winning entries of the 13th cycle of AKAA are also featured in great detail to showcase how these guiding principles can be embodied in buildings around the world. 

The librarians from [email protected] also recommend these titles­:
Here’re two books co-authored and co-edited by Mohsen Mostafavi that readers may also find interesting.


Louis Vuitton: Architecture and interiors

Author: Frederic Edelmann, Ian Luna, Rafael Magrou and Mohsen Mostafavi

Location: 746.920922 LOU -[ART]

Call no.: People Design, Fashion

This book explores the innovative architecture and interiors commissioned by Louis Vuitton and features not just the retail stores in cities such as Japan, Hong Kong, London, Rome and Moscow, but the brand’s workshops as well. Hear from the architects who worked on these projects and discover how Louis Vuitton stores have transformed the cities’ streetscapes.


Ecological Urbanism

Author: Mohsen Mostafavi and Gareth Doherty

Location: Lifestyle Design, Culture & Society

Call no.: 307.12164 ECO

This book puts forth the premise that both contemporary and new cities require a more ecological approach to remain sustainable. They key to that is urban design with a good understanding of the environment. Ecological Urbanism documents the experience of design practitioners, theorists, economists, engineers, policy makers and many others in hope of understanding ecological urbanism and its impact.


The recommended titles are available from [email protected] and other public libraries, unless otherwise stated. Photos: