Friday Reading List: Vernacular Architecture


On Vernacular Architecture and The Folk House

This week we released the final renderings for The Folk House by SPORA architects, but many of you may be ondering what exactly they meant by “vernacular architecture.” Here are a few books which demonstrate what it means to build homes with inherited knowledge and community.

Dwellings: The Vernacular House Worldwide, by Paul Oliver.

“More than 90 per cent of the world's buildings, including some 800 million homes, constitute architecture of ordinary people. Dwellings is about the vast range of types of vernacular houses around the world. It documents the form of traditional buildings that are self-built by their owner-occupiers or built by members of a community, recording the means of construction and decoration of the house across a spectrum of different cultures. First published by Phaidon in 1987, Dwellings – in its new updated, revised and expanded format – assimilates new scholarship in the field, including the author's own research, and traces theoretical developments in the spheres of cultural geography, gender studies, sociology and anthropology. It is not only a fascinating reference work on domestic buildings, but also a useful survey for understanding how diverse communities cope with issues of climate, migration, mass development and, in turn, how this brings to life symbolic and cultural meaning in architecture.”

Buildings Without Architects: A Global Guide to Everyday Architecture, by John May

“A wonderfully informative reference on vernacular styles, from adobe pueblos and Pennsylvania barns to Mongolian yurts and Indonesian stilt houses”

House Form and Culture by Amos Rapoport

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi 

Beyond Architecture: Imaginative Buildings and Fictional Cities Hardcover by L. Feireiss 

“Beyond Architecture is the first publication of its kind to document the creative
exploration of architecture and urban propositions in the contemporary arts.
Presenting experimental projects from an array of creative contexts, the book
features a multitude of groundbreaking approaches. It demonstrates how not
only architects and designers but also artists are taking architecture as a starting
point for experimentation.
The projects collected in this book range from performance, installation art and
crafted sculptures to architectural models, alternative ideas for living spaces
and furniture, as well as illustration, painting, collage and photography. Through
stunning photographs and complementary texts, these visionary concepts reveal
the hidden creative potential for architecture and urban environments in inventive
The interplay between architecture and visual culture will certainly pave the future
aesthetic and shape the development of architectural practices and urban landscapes
in the decades to come. Beyond Architecture is not only an essential
and inspiring reference for architects, but for anyone interested in visual culture.”