Dr Marcel Vellinga

Reader in Anthropology of Architecture
Director of the Place, Culture and Identity Research Group
Research Lead (Architecture)


Holding a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Leiden University (the Netherlands), Marcel has extensive research and teaching experience in the fields of cultural anthropology and international vernacular architecture studies. Over the years he has taught and published on a variety of topics including vernacular architecture, the anthropology of architecture, rural architectural regeneration, Minangkabau architecture, tradition and sustainable development.

Marcel is author of Constituting Unity and Difference: Vernacular Architecture in a Minangkabau Village (KITLV Press 2004); co-author, with Paul Oliver and Alexander Bridge, of the Atlas of Vernacular Architecture of the World (Routledge 2007); and co-editor, with Lindsay Asquith, of Vernacular Architecture in the 21st Century: Theory, Education and Practice (Taylor & Francis 2006) and, with Daniel Maudlin, of Consuming Architecture: On the Occupation, Appropriation and Interpretation of Buildings (Routledge 2014). Marcel is the editor of The Bazaar of Isfahan, which was originally conceived by Ali Bakhtiar, John Donat and Paul Oliver (Argumentum, 2016).

Marcel is the Editor-in-Chief of the second revised edition of the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, to be published in 2018 (in print and online) by Bloomsbury Publishing. His current research project (supported by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust) focuses on the life and works of the German architect, planner and urban historian Erwin Anton Gutkind. In 2015 he curated the ‘Architecture for All: The Photography of Paul Oliver’ exhibition in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

Marcel is a Director of the Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library, one of the world's largest collections of books, journals, theses and images focused on the vernacular architecture of the world, which is housed in the Main Library of Oxford Brookes University. He is a member of the editorial boards of Vernacular Architecture and Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review. He is a member the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE), the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU) and the International Vernacular Architecture Committee (CIAV) of ICOMOS. He is also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

Marcel has supervised 10 PhD students to completion and is currently the supervisor of 6 PhD students.

Teaching interests

  • Anthropology of architecture
  • Vernacular architecture
  • Rural architectural regeneration
  • Tradition, culture and sustainability
  • Ethnographic research methods

Research interests

  • Anthropology of architecture
  • Vernacular architecture
  • Erwin Anton Gutkind
  • Rural regeneration and sustainable development
  • Anthropology of Southeast Asia (especially Minangkabau and Nicobar Islands)
  • Mapping and cartography

Examples of recent publications and conference papers

2016 (ed.): The Bazaar of Isfahan. Ali Bakhtiar, John Donat and Paul Oliver. Lisbon: Argumentum.

2016: ‘A Conversation with Architects: Paul Oliver and the Anthropology of Shelter’. Architectural Theory Review, vol. 20 (4).

2015: ‘A Comfortable Home: Architecture, Migration and old Age in the Netherlands’. In Lozanovska, M. (ed.), Ethno-Architecture and the Politics of Migration. London: Routledge.

2014: ‘A “therapeutic irritant”: Bernard Rudofsky and the vernacular’. In Loren, M. and Romero, Y. (eds), Bernard Rudofsky: Desobediencia Critica a la Modernidad. Granada: Centro Jose Guerrero.

2014: ‘Vernacular architecture and sustainability: Two or three lessons…’. In Mileto, C., Vegas, F, Garcia, L. and Cristini, V. (eds), Vernacular Architecture: Towards a Sustainable Future. London: CRC Press.

2013: ‘The noble vernacular’. The Journal of Architecture 18 (4).

2011: ‘The end of the vernacular: Anthropology and the architecture of the Other’. Etnofoor 23(1), 171-192.

2011: With A. Foruzanmehr: ‘Vernacular Architecture: Questions of comfort and practicability’. Building Research & Information 39(3), 274-285.

2010: ‘Marked off: On taboos in architecture’. Perspecta 43, 4-13.

2008: ‘Adjusting the popular image: Diversity and dynamics in Minangkabau vernacular architecture. In Schefold, R. et al. (eds), Indonesian Houses, vol. 2: Survey of Vernacular Architecture in Western Indonesia. Leiden: KITLV Press.

2007: ‘Anthropology and the materiality of architecture’. American Ethnologist, vol. 32 (4).

2007: with Paul Oliver and Alex Bridge: Atlas of Vernacular Architecture of the World. London and New York: Routledge.

Marcell Vellinga


School of Architecture

Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Gipsy Lane
Oxford, OX3 0BP