October 2023

AAD Books: Architecture, Scale, and the City

Scale in cities has the ability to make us feel at home in the world or alien from it; connected or disconnected. Both large and small scale in cities can be beautiful, but 'getting the scale right' can be elusive. In his recent book, Benedict Zucchi's citation of Leon Battista Alberti’s assertion that "the city is like a big house, and the house is in turn like a little city" to prompt reflections on architecture’s reciprocal relationship to urbanism chimes with Tim Makower's revisit to John Summerson's seminal essay "Heavenly Mansions in which he interprets the childhood instinct of 'playing house' as an exercise in scale. Makower's book explores how scale is manifested in cities, buildings, and the spaces between them with an emphasis on the relationship between the eye and the hand; between the analytical act of seeing and interpreting, and the tactile creativity of drawing. Zucchi draws upon a range of historical sources and examples, as well as practical case studies of residential, health, education and workplace projects. Discussion will consider how architectural design may be viewed through an urban lens to offer an approach to the design of projects at all scales.


Tim Makower is an architect, urbanist, and graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Art. He spent 28 years at Allies and Morrison where he completed projects at a range of scales, many in the role of Partner. In 2012 he founded Makower Architects, based in both London and Doha. This has grown into an established practice with architectural and urban projects including International Quarter Stratford, Brent Cross Town, Hendon Waterside, Nestle Factory Hayes, Old Doha Heritage Masterplan and Qatar Freezone.

Benedict Zucchi is Principal and Head of Architecture at Building Design Partnership. He studied architecture at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. A close reading of place and an abiding interest in user participation have been common threads in his projects which range from mixed-use masterplans, schools and universities to designs for major hospitals, including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin. Previous publications include the first English language monograph on Italian architect Giancarlo De Carlo.


Matthew Barac is Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at London Metropolitan University where he leads the PhD programme at the School of Art, Architecture and Design, and is Director of CUBE: Centre for Urban & Built Ecologies. He was the School Research Leader 2018-21, and he chaired the Unit of Assessment (UoA) panel 32: "Art and Design: History, Theory and Practice" for the University's submission to most recent REF: Research Excellence Framework.