Teaching: References on Critical Architectural Practice

27th June 2015

Continuing from where we left off last time, I have compiled list of books and reading material one can refer to get a better understanding of the finer aspects of indigenous architecture. The books on this list are listed in no particular order and are meant to orient and introduce the student into the world of indigenous architecture. Since the values and principles of indigenous architecture overlap with the socio-cultural, socio-economic and socio-political aspects of people, it is not unthinkable to list books that deal with larger socio-political ideas of space and people.

It is very easy to get carried away with the material and technological wave that is generally associated with indigenous architecture. Contemporary practices of indigenous architecture today are driven by the technological and material pursuit of architecture in both India and abroad. It is easy to get trapped in this as these aspects are tangible- they can be touched, felt and measured. Fortunately indigenous architecture is far richer than that. To understand the finer nuances of the relationship between the physical aspects of material and technology and other aspects like sociology, economy and political theory, one will have to dig deeper. After all indigenous architecture is all about the people. If you take them out of the picture, then it ceases to be architecture and remains only as abstract art. The following books attempt to do justice to above topics. I have not read all of them and this is certainly not a conclusive list, So suggestions and comments on additions are highly appreciated.

Indigenous Architecture Book List 2015

Barefoot Architect

Atlas-Vernacular Arch

Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture

Built to Meet Needs

Vernacular Architecture-Towards a sustainable future


REading architecture of underprevileged classes

the culture of building

Lessons from vernacular architecture

Building without Architects

Handmade houses

Architecture without Architects



Timeless way of building

House form culture

Vernacular Architecture-illustrated handbook

freedom to build

housing by people


  • Earthern Architecture-pastpresentfuture

  • Architecture of Complexity Hardcover by Lucien Kroll  (Author), Peter Blundell Jones (Translator)
  • The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering of Masonry Architecture by Jacques Heyman (Author)

    stone skeleton

    Humanitarian Architecture: 15 stories of architects working after disaster by Esther Charlesworth (Author)

Humanitarian Architecture

  • Elemental: Incremental Housing and Participatory Design by Alejandro Aravena (Author), Andres Iacobelli (Author)


  • Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture by Justin McGuirk  (Author)

Radical Cities

  • Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities by Alfredo Brillembourg (Editor), Hubert Klumpner (Editor), Urban-Think Tank Chair of Architecture and Urban Design(Editor), ETH Zurich (Editor)

Torred David

  • Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social by Andres Lepik  (Author), Barry Bergdoll (Introduction)

Small Scale Big Change

  •  Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart  (Author), William McDonough  (Author)

cradle to cradle

  • Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek  (Author)

Deisgn for the Real World

Expanding Architecture Design as Activism

Design With the other 90

Design for the other 90

  • Beyond Shelter: Architecture and Human Dignity by Alfredo Brillembourg  (Author), Hubert Klumpner  (Author), Patrick Coulombel (Author), Marie Aquilino (Editor)

Beyond Shelter

  • Design Like You Give A Damn: Architectural Responses To Humanitarian Crises by Architecture for Humanity  (Author), Kate Stohr (Editor), Cameron Sinclair (Editor)
  • Design Damn1
  • Design Like You Give a Damn {2}: Building Change from the Ground Up by Kate Stohr (Author), Cameron Sinclair (Author), Architecture for Humanity  (Editor)

Design Damn2

  • Housing Without Houses: Participation, Flexibility, Enablement by Nabeel Hamdi  (Author)

Housing without Houses

  • The Placemaker’s Guide to Building Community (Earthscan Tools for Community Planning) by Nabeel Hamdi (Author)

Placemakers guide

  • Small Change: About the Art of Practice and the Limits of Planning in Cities by Nabeel Hamdi  (Author)

Small Change

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