How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built is an illustrated book on the evolution of buildings and how buildings adapt to changing requirements over long periods. It was written by Stewart Brand and published by Viking Press in 1994. In 1997 it was turned into a 6-part TV series on the BBC.

Brand asserts that the best buildings are made from low-cost, standard designs that people are familiar with, and easy to modify. In this way people can gradually change their buildings to meet their needs. One of his examples is Building 20 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brand states that a supply of simple, low-cost, easily modified buildings is key to innovation and economic growth. He implies that an expanding property-value market may actually slow innovation and produce a less human-centered community. Among other things, the book details the notion of Shearing layers.

Criticism of the architect Richard Rogers was removed from the UK edition but remains in the US edition.