Banco: Adobe Mosques of the Inner Niger Delta

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Banco: Adobe Mosques of the Inner Niger Delta by Sebastian Schutyser and Jean Dethier (author of Down to Earth) et al., is a beautiful book with photographs by Sebastian Schutyser that reveal a neglected African architectural heritage: village adobe mosques. His black-and-white images emphasize an artistic fusion of architecture and sculpture and exalt the strength and beauty of a craft that eludes globalization. The photos emphasize the grain and substance of clay smoothed by villagers’ hands or cracked by erosion, and highlight the solidity of the masonry and the sensuality of the textures. The texts that accompany these stunning pictures are by a leading expert on raw-earth architecture and by a major scholar on African vernacular architecture. Included is an appendix that documents all 500 of the principal adobe mosques of the Inner Niger Delta, with the names of the villages and geographical coordinates. For more information visit www.sebastianschutyser.com

Desert Works

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Rick Joy: Desert Works contains masterfully modern designs in rammed earth by this Tucson, Arizona based architect. Joy uses color, texture, and materials to turn the six houses shown here into spare and subtle evidence of humanity in a vast natural world. He uses a similar approach, with expanded functionality, in the three studio/office designs that complete this book. The quiet of the settings and the simplicity of Joy’s approach are perfect partners in producing architecture appropriate to a vast, unpeopled place.

Architecture for the Poor

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Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt describes Hassan Fathy’s plan for building the village of New Gourna, near Luxor, Egypt, without the use of more modern and expensive materials such as steel and concrete. Using mud bricks, the native technique that Fathy learned in Nubia, and such traditional Egyptian architectural designs as enclosed courtyards and vaulted roofing, Fathy worked with the villagers to tailor his designs to their needs. He taught them how to work with the bricks, supervised the erection of the buildings, and encouraged the revival of such ancient crafts as claustra (lattice designs in the mudwork) to adorn the buildings.