Publications: Books

Chris Abel’s earliest writings were published in the Architectural Association Quarterly whilst he was still a student at the AA School of Architecture. He has kept up a steady stream of publications ever since, covering many books and over one hundred and thirty papers and essays on theoretical topics and the work of leading architects around the world, for which he is the sole author. His books are listed below, including his new work of interdisciplinary theory, The Self-Field: Mind, Body and Environment. For further details, see:

The author's other major books are listed below. Extracts from selected essays and other publications may also be viewed here.


The Self-Field: Mind, Body and Environment

Routledge, 2021, 346 pages

‘In this incisive study of the biological and cultural origins of the human self, the author challenges readers to rethink ideas about the self and consciousness as being exclusive to humans. In their place, he expounds a metatheoretical approach to the self as a purposeful system of extended cognition common to animal life: the invisible medium maintaining mind, body and environment as an integrated “field of being”’. From the book cover

Architecture and Identity (Chinese 3rd edition)

Architecture and Identity (Chinese 3rd edition)

China Architecture and Building Press, 2019, 390 pages


Architecture And Identity: Responses To Cultural And Technological Change

2017, Routledge (3rd edition), 416 pages

"Architecture and Identity is a classic. The first edition established it as the textbook for the connection between these two important arenas of popular interest. This third edition includes a masterful addition to the original text, one that not only takes the larger cultural discourses seriously, but building on earlier essays also reflects on and contextualises the present moment in the history of the built environment." Nezar AlSayyad, University of California Berkeley


"The impressive breadth of these collected essays from Chris Abel draws out the intellectual ground necessary to bring our ever-fresh obsession with technology in architecture, into the historical and cultural frame it desperately needs. For anyone interested in actually understanding the radical responses of architecture to the changing times, Abel offers a powerfully argued perspective built over many years of reflection that is more relevant than ever." Anthony Burke, University of Technology Sydney



The Extended Self: Architecture, Memes and Minds

Winner of the CICA 2017 Bruno Zevi Book Award

2015, Manchester University Press, 378 pages.

"In his wide-ranging study of architecture and cultural evolution, Chris Abel argues that, despite progress in sustainable development and design, resistance to changing personal and social identities shaped by a technology-based and energy-hungry culture is impeding efforts to avert drastic climate change. The book traces the roots of that culture to the coevolution of Homo sapiens and technology, from the first use of tools as artificial extensions of the human body to the motorised cities spreading around the world, whose uncontrolled effects are fast changing the planet itself. Drawing upon research into extended cognition and embodied minds from philosophy, psychology and the neurosciences, the book addresses a broad readership searching for insights into the origins of the environmental crisis."From the book cover


"A wide ranging, and intellectually deep, exploration of ideas relating to memetics and the transmission of culture. That, in turn, provokes comparisons between the mechanisms of biological evolution and those of cultural change and influence. Abel handles all this with relish."Russell Blackford, Journal of Evolution & Technology

"It would be hard to imagine reading The Extended Self and not coming away with new directions for future research."Joshua August Skorburg, Journal of Environmental Philosophy

"Throughout The Extended Self Abel does a masterful job coordinating a considerable range of concepts and resources in an organised and compelling manner."Andrew Grosso, Tradition & Discovery; The Polanyi Society Journal

A powerful and provocative exploration of the implications of recent theories of embodiment and extended cognition, and it rightfully turns them away from the classical cognitive science preoccupation with problem solving onto the phenomenon of problem creation, thereby implicating ethical questions on the broadest scale."Suraj Sood and Lisa Osbeck, Journal of Theory & Psychology



The Reichstag
With Norman Foster

2012, Prestel, 96 pages

The transformation of the Reichstag is one of the most symbolically charged projects of recent decades, marking the reunification of Germany and the relocation of the parliament to Berlin.From the book cover


Carre d’Art Nimes
With Norman Foster

2015, Prestel, 96 pages

"The Carre d'Art shows how a building project, backed by an enlightened political initiative, can provide a powerful catalyst for reinvigorating the fabric of a city."From the book cover


Beijing International Airport
With Norman Foster

Prestel, 2010 96 pages

In text and illustrations, this book shows what makes the International Terminal of the Beijing Airport a standard for all others to follow."From the book cover



Architecture, Technology and Process

Architectural Press, 2004, 268 pages.

Drawing upon a wide range of knowledge and disciplines, the author argues that underlying technological changes in the process of architectural production are of fundamental importance to the way we think about machines and the world we live in.From the book cover


Norman Foster: Works 1-6
Introductions and essays

2004-2013, Prestel, 400 pages

Norman Foster: Works' is a comprehensive, multi-volume survey of a remarkable career, which explores the evolution of the Foster studio, decade by decade, from its formation in 1960 to the present....Bringing together contributions from noted commentators on architecture alongside essays and observations from Norman Foster and his colleagues in the practice, Norman Foster: Works provides the definitive account of an exceptional body of work.From the book cover



Sky High: Vertical Architecture

Royal Academy of Arts, 2003, 120 pages.

"Published to accompany 'Sky High', a skyscraper show curated by Norman Foster within the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition, this striking book traces the evolution of vertical architecture around the world. An incisive text and numerous colour illustrations survey early iconic skyscrapers in America, the changing skylines of the Pacific Rim and the most recent energy-efficient towers in Europe, examining how attitudes towards tall buildings are changing."From the book cover


Harry Seidler: Houses and Interiors, Vols 1 & 2

Introductions, Images Publishing, 2003, 144 pages

"Many of the houses will be familiar to older generations of architects who graduated in the 1950s and 60s and who eagerly devoured Seidler's designs as part of modernism's essential repertoire of domestic architecture. However, to younger designers around the world who are now shaking off the worst excesses of postmodernism, these houses will come as a revelation: products of an earlier, alternative modernism that was respectful of its locality as well as expressive of its time. As such, both Seidler's work and career demand renewed and close examination."From the author's introduction to Vol 1


Architecture and Identity:
Responses to Cultural and Technological Change

Architectural Press (2nd edition), 2000, 288 pages.

"Chris Abel is a nomad in the intellectual as well as in the geographical sense...The result is always unconventional and challenging, and sometimes impressively prescient."Colin Davies, The Architectural Review

"Where [Abel] really scores is with his discussions of regional architecture in far-flung parts of the world, pointing out the need to understand overseas cultures in their own terms."Andrew Ballantyne, Times Literary Supplement


Architecture and Identity:
Towards a Global Eco-Culture

Architectural Press, 1997, 264 pages.

"Chris Abel approaches the subject of architecture and its relation to social and cultural identities from a wide range of knowledge, including cybernetics, philosophy, new human science and development planning, as well as his experience as a teacher and critic on four continents."From the book cover



Manikata Church: Richard England

Academy Editions, 1995, 80 pages

"Today, Manikata Church stands as a telling rebuke to those architects and commentators who maintain that to communicate, architecture must carry a big sign before it and strike a big drum wherever it goes. As this story shows, the Church communicates the most profound meanings, not always immediately, but in diverse and subtle ways. As such, Manikata Church reminds us of the continuing power of Modern architecture - in the right hands - to surprise us and its critics, with its range and depth and its capacity to meet the most demanding of spiritual as well as material needs."From the author's text


Renault Centre: Norman Foster

Architecture Design and Technology Press, 60 pages.

"This monograph is a uniquely detailed and authoritative record of the Renault Centre, produced by Chris Abel from the Foster Associates' archives, and photographed and drawn under his supervision. Its illustrated essay, portfolio of large-format photographs (many in full colour), 24 pages of specially drawn technical details, and fact-sheets and bibliography are unlikely ever to be surpassed in a single publication."From the book cover