Small Scale Big Change

The role of the global architect in society is changing. Instead of waiting for commissions to come their way, architects are initiating and developing practical solutions in response to dramatically changing living conditions in many parts of the world today. Small Scale, Big Change
focuses on a central chapter of this shift, presenting recently built or under-construction works, many of which are constructed of earth, in underserved communities around the globe by these 11 architects and firms: Elemental (Chilean); Anna Heringer (Austrian); Diebedo Francis Kere (Burkinabe); Hashim Sarkis A.L.U.D. (Lebanese); Jorge Mario Jauregui (Brazilian); Frederic Druot, Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal (French); Michael Maltzan Architecture (American); Noero Wolff Architects (South African); Rural Studio (American); Estudio Teddy Cruz (American, born Guatemala); and Urban Think Tank (American/Austrian/Venezuelan).

Without sacrificing concern for aesthetics, these architects have developed projects that reveal a post-utopian specificity of place; their architectural solutions emerge from close collaboration with future users and sustained research into local conditions. The projects–which include schools, parks, housing and infrastructural interventions–reveal an exciting change in the longstanding dialogue between architecture and society, as the architect’s roles, methods, approaches and responsibilities are dramatically reevaluated. They also offer an expanded definition of sustainability that moves beyond experimentation with new materials and technologies to encompass larger concepts of social and economic sustainability. Small Scale, Big Change examines the evolving standards of responsibility and participation in architecture and the ways in which architects can engage critically with larger social, economic and political issues currently facing communities around the world.

Arquitectura Con Tierra en Uruguay

Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay is a book that offers a tour of fifteen case studies of buildings constructed with earth in Montevideo, Canelones, Maldonado, Rocha and Salto, Uruguay. One of the most significant characteristics of this type of construction technology in Uruguay is the amount of new work, which makes a difference to other countries in the region. This publication presents the works of several architects and builders from 1996 to 2009 in a compilation of 250 photographs and charts.

Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay makes clear the living traditions of ancient technologies that are increasingly valued. This book is available in Uruguay in the Faculty of Architecture Library (Bulevar Artigas 1031, Montevideo) and in the Library of the Society of Architects of Uruguay (Gonzalo Ramírez 2030, Montevideo). It can be purchased elsewhere through

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Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay es un libro que propone una recorrida por quince casos de construcciones con tierra en los departamentos de Montevideo, Canelones, Maldonado, Rocha y Salto. Una de las características más significativas de este tipo de tecnología constructiva en Uruguay es la cantidad de obra nueva que marca la diferencia con respecto a otros países de la región. En esta publicación se recopilan las obras de varios arquitectos y constructores desde 1996 a 2009 a través de 250 fotografías y gráficos elaborados especialmente.

Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay da cuenta de la siempre viva actualidad de técnicas milenarias que vuelven a cobrar valor. Este libro se puede adquirir en Uruguay en la Librería de Facultad de Arquitectura (Bulevar Artigas 1031, Montevideo) y en la Librería de la Sociedad de Arquitectos del Uruguay (Gonzalo Ramírez 2030, Montevideo). Puede ser adquirido desde el exterior a través del sitio

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Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay – Autor: Alejandro Ferreiro – 120 páginas – 17 x 24 cm – ISBN 978-9974-98-153-9. Alejandro Ferreiro es arquitecto egresado de la Facultad de Arquitectura (UdelaR) en 2005. Se desempeña como docente de la cátedra de Arquitectura y Tecnología y ha participado como capacitador a partir de 2002 en distintas actividades y jornadas universitarias de transferencia tecnológica. Desde el año 2008 comienza a trabajar como profesional liberal en proyectos de arquitectura con tierra y materiales naturales.


Earth is a natural building material that is at once traditional and modern. In recent years it has advanced to become a high-quality material. Its aesthetic qualities and character along with its beneficial effect on the indoor climate and general well-being are widely recognised. Of particular relevance are its environmental properties, for example the incomparably low energy balance of many earth building materials. As an authentic historical building material, earth is also widely used in the conservation and renovation of historic buildings.

Lehmbau-Praxis, written by Ulrich Röhlen and Christof Ziegert, provides an overview of the current state of the art of planning and building earth constructions and is an invaluable reference for architects, engineers, building contractors and tradesmen. Available in English or German.

Adobe Homes for All Climates

Adobe Homes for All Climates: Simple, Affordable, and Earthquake-Resistant Natural Building Techniques, by Lisa Schroder and Vince Ogletree, is ideal both for first-time do-it-yourselfers and for experienced adobe builders seeking to improve their craft. Drawing on the experience of more than fifty major adobe projects since 1993, Adobe Homes for All Climates describes Adobe Building Systems’ patented reinforcement and scaffolding systems, showing readers how to construct adobe homes more easily and safely, and with superior strength, durability, structural integrity, and aesthetic appeal, as compared to earthen homes of the past.

Handmade Houses & Other Buildings: The World of Vernacular Architecture

Vernacular architecture, by its very nature, is built from local materials that are readily to hand and is thus defined by the geology and ecology of the region and by local climatic conditions. Constructed by the community using traditional tools, these structures are highly practical, energy-efficient, and blend with the landscape. They carry many of the attributes that we are now seeking in green architecture as we struggle to adapt our built environment to the demands and concerns of the climate-change era. Handmade Houses & Other Buildings: The World of Vernacular Architecture looks at everyday structures all over the world, from whatever wood, grass, earth or stone that was to hand, in ways that offered practical solutions to the challenges of climate or terrain. Based on immemorial principles, but highly relevant to our newly found environmental concerns, these buildings show the simple and satisfying ways in which humans have worked out how to live and live well, in harmony with their surroundings.

Bâtir en Terre

The French language book, Bâtir en Terre, by Romain Anger and Laetitia Fontaine was published as part of the exhibition Ma Terre Première Pour Construire Demain (Earth Today for Construction Tomorrow). The book presents the unique heritage of earth construction, from the mythical Shibam in Yemen The “Manhattan of the desert to the strange group of Hakka houses in China. The book includes projects from Europe and documents the achievements of contemporary architects, fascinated by the qualities of the material. The book offers simple and fun experiments to understand physio-chemical properties of earth from which could arise ways to develop alternatives to industrial materials like cement. [ Preview the book here ]

Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments

Books on architectural history and theory often overlook mud and dust as a material of architecture and cities. As author David Gissen points out in his new book, “Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments“, the eradication of mud from urban environments is often seen as a form of cultural advancement. “Massive paving projects were undertaken to remove muddy pockets from the centers of cities, and drainage efforts eliminated mud from most public parklands. The appearance of mud [in the ninetieth and twentieth centuries] became emblematic of urban engineering failures and impending pathologies”, writes Gissen. He then goes on to describe the expanded potential for this material from a historical and theoretical perspective in projects such as de Paor architects pavillion for the Venice Bienale, which was constructed of 21 tons of Irish peat and Otero-Pailos’s The Ethics of Dust, and experimental preservation project which captures an interiors dust in latex that is then assembled as an interior facade. The book is not about fashionable topics surrounding sustainability and ecology. With chapters on smoke, dankness, debris, exhaust, weeds and other counter-architectural conditions, Gissen seeks to expand one’s perception of truly alternative materials in a positively original way.

Book Description
We are conditioned over time to regard environmental forces such as dust, mud, gas, smoke, debris, weeds, and insects as inimical to architecture. Much of today’s discussion about sustainable and green design revolves around efforts to clean or filter out these primitive elements. While mostly the direct result of human habitation, these ‘subnatural forces’ are nothing new. In fact, our ability to manage these forces has long defined the limits of civilized life. From its origins, architecture has been engaged in both fighting and embracing these so-called destructive forces. In Subnature, David Gissen, author of our critically acclaimed Big and Green, examines experimental work by today’s leading designers, scholars, philosophers, and biologists that rejects the idea that humans can somehow recreate a purely natural world, free of the untidy elements that actually constitute nature. Each chapter provides an examination of a particular form of subnature and its actualization in contemporary design practice.

The exhilarating and at times unsettling work featured in Subnature suggests an alternative view of natural processes and ecosystems and their relationships to human society and architecture. R&Sien’s Mosquito Bottleneck house in Trinidad uses a skin that actually attracts mosquitoes and moves them through the building, while keeping them separate from the occupants. In his building designs the architect Philippe Rahm draws the dank air from the earth and the gasses and moisture from our breath to define new forms of spatial experience. In his Underground House, Mollier House, and Omnisport Hall, Rahm forces us to consider the odor of soil and the emissions from our body as the natural context of a future architecture. [Cero 9]’s design for the Magic Mountain captures excess heat emitted from a power generator in Ames, Iowa, to fuel a rose garden that embellishes the industrial site and creates a natural mountain rising above the city’s skyline. Subnature looks beyond LEED ratings, green roofs, and solar panels toward a progressive architecture based on a radical new conception of nature.