Home Page
About Us
Books & Videos
Current Projects
Contact Info

Vernacular Architecture Around the World

We now have a new book out on traditional building around the world. It is primarily color photographs from a Japanese friend, Yoshio Komatsu. Out of the thousands of photographs that Yoshio has, we along with his wife Eiko have chosen examples that are inspirational examples to us of natural building.

The chapters of the book include: Earth, Stone, Wood, Bamboo, Thatch, Combined Materials, Into the Earth, On the Water, On the Move, Natural Conditioning, Villages, Places of Worship, Grain Storage & Birds, Streets, Doors, Windows, Sculpted Features, and Embellishment.

Below is a description of the book out of the Gibbs Smith, Publisher catalog.

BUILT BY HAND Vernacular Architecture Around the World

Photographs by Yoshio Komatsu

Athena Steen, Bill Steen & Eiko Komatsu

$50 hardcover I-58685-237-X June

8 x 9, 480pp, 700 Color photographs.

Published by Gibbs Smith, Publisher

Built by Hand is the most extensive documentation ever published of traditional ("vernacular") buildings throughout the world. With examples from nearly every continent, the book documents the diverse methods people have used to create shelter from locally available natural materials, and shows the impressively handmade finished products through this truly stunning compilation of photographs. Unlike modern buildings that rely on industrially produced materials and highly specialized tools and techiniques, the shelters featured here represent a rapidly disappearing genre of handcrafted and beautifully composed structures. They are the work of simple people who, as builders and homesteaders, have integrated artistic beauty and practical form into their shelter needs.

Built by Hand offers insights into the world of vernacular buildings, along with potential solutions to many of the problems that plague noderm architecture. It is a must-have collection that preserves and documents the rich cultural past of each structure and its community, and offers inspiration for those looking to build in a way that is motivated by something larger than speed, efficiency, and economic profit.

Athena and Bill Steen are the authors of the Straw Bale House and The Beauty of Straw Bale. They are active in community building programs that teach low-income families how to build their own shelters, and known for their efforts to incorporate artistic techniques based on local and natural materials into the world of modern construction. They live in Canelo, Arizona.

Yoshio Komatsu has been photographing buildings and people around the world for 25 years. His photographs were collected in the Japanese book Living on Earth, and his work is regularly published in books, magazines, and calendars throughout Japan. This is his first book in English. He and his wife, Eiko, live in Tokyo.

We are currently not selling the book Built by Hand. It is available in most bookstores , online through Amazon.com., or directly through

Gibbs Smith Publishing
PO Box 667
Layton, Utah 84041

Return to listing of other Books in progress.
Return to listing of other CURRENT PROJECTs