Art of Building in Yemen

Fernando Varanda

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Considered as a classic in Vernacular and Traditional Architecture of the Middle East, this book, first published by MIT Press in 1981, suddenly reappears in a revised and amplified version, also covering South Yemen.

After 25 years, the contents of this book remain a mandatory reference for its extraordinary and singular documental value. This is what justifies this second edition, which includes the contents of the first edition (sold out since the mid 80s), and the research made in 2006, that gives a global vision of a unified Yemen territory.

This research includes all kinds and styles of buildings and the materials that they have been build with, crossing geomorphic conditions and cultural movements. Maybe it is also the last possible look to the purest and homogenic side of Yemen Architecture since, as in the neighbor countries, occidental models influence seems inevitable.

A selected choice of photographs and drawings make this book or unmissable to architects, travelers and other readers that are interested in how much architecture can reflect society , by the identification of patterns in human relations illustrated by stories of cultural habits with the most diverse kind of houses and villages.

Part One, Space and Form, covers the environment and its control through dams, terraces, wells and moats; the basic types of shelter from tents and caves to the remarkable “tower houses” (commonly six storeys high) and the basic types of settlements from desert outgrowths and hilltop hamlets to urban centres of trade and polity; building methods and materials, including mud, plaster, stone and brick; and architectural elements such as roofs, walls, gratings, doors and windows (many filled with brilliantly colored glass).

The book’s Part Two, Regional Surveys, notes architectural variations and distributions from the coastal strip to the midlands, highlands and eastern plateau.”

The third Part, Architectural Syntheses, is amplified in this edition and shows the architectural syntheses achieved in cities, the confrontation with the process of modernity, the shapes of resistance of local identities and the outcome concerning the idea of historic preservation.

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Fernando Varanda

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