Building Community New Apartment Architecture

Michael Webb

An international survey of the most inventive contemporary apartment buildings, to inspire architects, developers, urban planners, and informed city dwellers


There's an urgent need to build more and better apartments: to relieve an acute shortage of affordable housing in major cities; to use scarce land more economically; to save energy wasted on long-distance commutes; and to revitalize urban centers. These challenges have led to the creation of some of the most inventive contemporary buildings of the last few years.

In his new book Building Community, author Michael Webb explores apartment buildings as a typology of growing significance and traces the history of multiple-occupancy housing through its most innovative 20th-century exemplars. These range from the pioneering projects of Henri Sauvage and Michel de Klerk to the landscaped housing estates of Weimar Germany, the radical proposals of Le Corbusier, and public housing in post-war Europe.

Thirty recent apartment complexes are grouped by theme, from compact urban villages to mega-structures, and from social housing to upscale high-rises. Each is considered for the way in which it enriches the lives of residents and the city, and is illustrated with drawings and photographs. Nine projects currently under construction anticipate the surge of innovation as architects become increasingly involved in this area of design.

Creativity is the theme that links these diversified examples: finding new ways to share space, while maintaining a balance of privacy and community. Building Community offers dozens of proven successes, offering valuable lessons in the creation of good living environments. It also includes interviews with Bjarke Ingels, Édouard François, Michael Maltzan, Lorcan O'Herlihy and Stanley Saitowitz: architects who have each set an example for their peers.


This attractive and informative volume, filled with color photographs and black-and-white drawings, offers 30 bold, innovative case studies [of] solutions to myriad challenges of urban living, including overcrowding, housing shortages, neglected neighborhoods, and sustainability issues. Webb begins with a brief essay outlining the evolution of the apartment building as typology and introduces readers to exceptional examples of 20th-century modernist dwellings. The greater portion of this book showcases contemporary designs, with brief texts describing the challenges the architects addressed. Design professionals will appreciate being introduced to these projects and trends. For general readers, this work will expand the notion of what apartment design can be.

— Library Journal

Highly recommended. Webb makes the reader aware of some innovative contemporary solutions to the unrealized potential of the apartment building. Nothing was spared in illustrating the book: more than 300 high-quality color photographs, diagrams, floor plans and sections provide an excellent understanding of the concepts the author is propagating.



Michael Webb


Michael Webb is a Los Angeles-based writer who has authored more than twenty books on architecture and design, most recently Modernist Paradise: Niemeyer House, Boyd Collection, and Venice, CA: Art + Architecture in a Maverick Community, while contributing essays to many more. He is also a regular contributor to leading journals in the United States and Europe. Growing up in London, he wrote for The Times and Country Life before moving to the US to direct film programs for the American Film Institute and curate a Smithsonian exhibition, Hollywood: Legend and Reality, which traveled to major American cities and Tokyo.