Panoramic view, Oia, Santorini, Greece, 1998, © Paul Oliver

The Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World

The Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World will be a fully revised, updated and expanded edition of Paul Oliver’s classic 1997 publication. Featuring approximately 3,000 entries, the encyclopedia will contain over 30% entirely new material and will be available as a six volume printed work and as an interactive online encyclopedia. A major development in the field of vernacular architecture studies, this new edition, with its expanded, newly-comprehensive theoretical and geographical scope, will reflect the considerable growth in research in the field since the first edition. It will bring the encyclopedia, which has long been unavailable, back to prominence and to a new expanded readership, and will be the definitive and most up-to-date reference resource for the study of the world’s vernacular and traditional building cultures.

The encyclopedia will be published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2018. The Editor-in-Chief is Dr Marcel Vellinga at Oxford Brookes University. Details of the full editorial team can be found here.


In the nearly twenty years since the publication of the first edition, a considerable amount of new research has taken place around the world and by scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds, both in terms of the documentation of the vernacular architecture of specific cultures or places, and theoretical approaches towards the definition, documentation, analysis and representation of vernacular architecture more generally. Altogether, this research has resulted in a more mature, diverse, active and dynamic field of study, interdisciplinary and international in focus, which continues to enrich our knowledge and understanding of the diversity and quality of the world’s vernacular architecture. The second edition will encompass the results of this new research.

An update is particularly important in view of the rapid cultural and environmental changes that have taken place in the past two decades. Population growth, urbanisation, globalisation, climate change, migration, natural disasters, conflicts, and the internationalisation of architectural practice have exerted increasing pressure on vernacular forms of architecture in many parts of the world. In some cases, this has resulted in the abandonment, replacement or destruction of distinctive and unique vernacular traditions; traditions that a revised edition of EVAW will be able to document, before they are for ever lost. In other cases, it has resulted in conscious attempts to conserve, safeguard or revive existing traditions, or invent new ones, and to explore their application and appropriation in contemporary architectural practice. These processes have in turn led to the emergence of hybrid forms of ‘new vernacular’ architecture that combine vernacular and contemporary elements, both in professional and informal contexts, in many parts of the world.

In line with these processes and with developments in cultural theory more generally, more dynamic and active approaches to the study of vernacular architecture have emerged that attempt to challenge the dichotomies inherent in earlier definitions and representations of the vernacular. Paying more attention to the impact of human agency and practice on architecture, they explore the ways in which traditions actively transform, overlap, combine and amalgamate as a result of processes of development and consumption (e.g. through occupation, appropriation or representation). Simultaneously, in response to the challenges posed by processes of environmental change, an active discourse has developed that explores the ways in which vernacular forms, materials and technologies may inform contemporary sustainable environmental design.

The second edition of the Encyclopedia will document these emergent discourses and new forms of vernacular architecture in two new sections focused on ‘Consumption’ and ‘Sustainable Development’. In addition, it will update, revise and expand the existing Theories and Principles, and Cultures and Habitats sections; as well as the Comparative Lexicon, Glossary and Bibliography.

Existing sections

New sections on Consumption and Sustainable Development


For general inquiries about the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, please contact the Editor-in-Chief, Dr Marcel Vellinga, at


Dr Marcel Vellinga

Place, Culture & Identity Group

School of Architecture
Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Gipsy Lane
Oxford, OX3 0BP

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 483200
Fax: +44 (0) 1865 483298

Bao Zhuang temple steps, Shexian, Anhui, China, 2000, © Paul Oliver