Handmade Houses and Other Buildings

Handmade Houses and Other Buildings, by John May, Thames & Hudson, RRP£14.95

It was a jolt to learn that most people in the world (roughly 80 per cent) live in self-built homes. And, if ever there was a case against the rush to concrete urban jungles, this captivating book makes it in the most charming way.

As the world’s population edges towards a predicted 9bn in 2040 it seems vital that the knowledge and skills involved in vernacular building should be preserved and utilised – not least because such homes are highly practical, energy efficient and landscape friendly, as a foreword by vernacular architecture specialist Anthony Reid observes.

This 192-page compact hardback kicks off with a photo gallery of local materials (including snow) that profoundly connect indigenous builders with their environment and communities.

May then escorts us on a global tour of vernacular styles including Yemen tower houses, Russian izby, Trulli stone houses, Samoan fales, Marsh Arab reed-houses, Japanese minka and English cob houses – each delightfully illustrated with line drawings and captions highlighting key features.

Human-scale architecture is here in spades, perhaps inspiring some readers to build their own hand-made houses and the rest of us to dream of doing so.

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