Without qualification, this is the greatest account of vernacular architecture, indigenous shelter, and traditional folk-built home images ever published. And it won’t likely be surpassed, since fanatical photographer Yoshio Komatsu spent 25 years traveling the globe to document the full jaw-dropping variety of shelter on earth. He’s been EVERYWHERE. I can’t think of a remote region of Asia, Africa, South American and Europe that he missed; most of the styles are new and stimulating to me, and I’ve been around. While Architecture Without Architects (see above) hints dreamily at this diversity, Built By Hand completes the thought by explicitly celebrating this abundance in vivid in-your-face technicolor. It’s in a different league from all previous vernacular architecture books. This one is a stupendous 480-page cornucopic tome overflowing with 700 photographs, and thousands of details, hopes, and design ideas. Totally breathtaking, totally awesome! If this doesn’t get you to grab a hammer, nothing will.
[No longer in print, even used copies of this book are quite pricey. However, the Kindle edition is available for $10. ]
Moula, Cameroon. Arched earthen doorway.
Sumba, Indonesia. Four main posts provide the structural support in this building, and bamboo is used for everything else. Symbolically, the tall section of the roof is for God, the middle space for man, and the ground level for animals.