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Home > Catalogue > Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World
Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World


  • 2700 b/w illus. 80 maps
  • Page extent: 2500 pages
  • Size: 219 x 276 mm
  • Weight: 8.87 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 721
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: NA208 .E53 1997
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Vernacular architecture--Encyclopedias

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521564229 | ISBN-10: 0521564220)

  • Published November 1997

Unavailable - out of print November 2004

 (Stock level updated: 02:21 GMT, 10 October 2015)


Vernacular - or traditional - architecture encompasses most of the buildings of the world. This encyclopedia is the first to show the remarkable diversity of the buildings constructed and lived in by the people of over a thousand cultures. The first of the three volumes focuses on the theories, principles and philosophy that underpin traditional architecture. Volumes 2 and 3 consider these principles within specific cultural and societal contexts. As building traditions vary widely within some countries and extend across the political boundaries of others, the encyclopedia considers vernacular architecture within its cultural rather than its national contexts. Richly illustrated with photographs, line drawings and maps, the work is also supported by a glossary, a lexicon, and the largest bibliography on the subject ever published. This work will be an inspiration and resource for architects, anthropologists, folklorists and geographers, and important for all who help shape housing and conservation policies.

• The first encyclopedia ever compiled on this subject • Over 750 contributors from more than 80 countries • More than 1,700 photographs, 1,000 line drawings including plans, diagrams, and computer-generated projections; 80 regional maps; c. 2,500 pages • Comparative Lexicon of 500 terms used in the study of vernacular architecture with translations into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic • Glossary of over 1,200 specialist architectural or anthropological terms • Largest bibliography to have been published on the subject, with over 9,000 references • An essential reference work for architects, anthropologists, geographers, folklorists, planners, historians, conservationists and all those who work in, or are concerned with, the built environment • Published in three volumes


Volume 1 Approaches and Concepts; Cultural Traits and Attributes; Environment; Materials and Resources; Production and Components; Service Systems; Symbolism and Decoration; Typologies; Uses and Functions. Volume 2 Asia East and Central; Australasia and Oceania; Europe and Eurasia; Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. Volume 3 Latin America; North America; Sub-Saharan Africa; Glossary; International Lexicon; Bibliography; Index of Cultures and Habitats, Nations and Locations; General Index.

Prize Winner

Sir Banister Fletcher Award 1998 - Winner


'… the breadth and detail is staggering.' Building Design

'It should be seen as a major pioneering work.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'The Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World is … a many-sided achievement, dealing with material culture and sustainable settlements as a source for understanding both present and past and as an inspiration for constructing the future.' Architecture Today

' … a masterwork in that it is not only a rare achievement of collaborative scholarship but also the result of its editor's individual vision and determination, and his skill in constructing a multidimensional matrix of themes and materials …'. Anthropology Today

'Paul Oliver is the Sir Banister Fletcher of our age, chronicling the architecture of the people rather than for the people.' Architects Journal

' … a monument in its own right, and a classic to put on the shelf alongside Pevsner … in the league of Banister Fletcher's famous tome on comparative architecture and Nikolaus Pevsner's extensive Building of England series'. RIBA Journal


750 contributors from 80 countries

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