Expert’s work on vernacular architecture arrives in library’s Special Collections

Friday, 23 December 2016

Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library

Paul Oliver’s Vernacular Architecture Archival Collection has been deposited in the Special Collections section of Oxford Brookes University’s main library.

Paul Oliver is an art historian who graduated from the University of London in 1955. During his career he has taught at various institutions, including Oxford Brookes for more than 30 years.

He has written and edited a large number of books on vernacular architecture, most notably the monumental Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World (EVAW) (Cambridge University Press), which in 1997 won the Sir Bannister Fletcher Award for Art and Architecture.

Vernacular architecture comprises the culturally distinctive, traditional, common and everyday forms of building made by ordinary people in response to local needs and environments.

The Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library (POVAL) collection comprises of material related to his many publications (including the prize-winning EVAW), as well as correspondence, conference papers, unclassified graphic material and more personal material such as notebooks, travel logs and press cuttings.

The Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library collection provides an unparalleled source to the global academic community, collected over a period of more than 50 years.

Dr Marcel Vellinga, Reader in Anthropology of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Marcel Vellinga, Reader in Anthropology of Architecture in Oxford Brookes’ School of Architecture said: “The Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library collection provides an unparalleled source to the global academic community, collected over a period of more than 50 years, it is a truly global resource of value to anyone interested in the study, conservation and development of the world’s build environments.”

The acquisition of the POVAL was made possible by the generous support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

The collection is available for research by appointment only. A finding aid to the collection is available on request from Special Collections. Please contact libraryenquiries@brookes.ac.uk

Dr Marcel Vellinga is currently embarking on an ambitious, global project to produce a second revised edition of the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World (EVAW) and help provide increased knowledge of vernacular architecture to greater numbers of scholars and students around the world.

Vernacular architecture research image

Since the production of EVAW in 1997, a wealth of new research has taken place. Much of it has been inspired by that publication, and has resulted in a more diverse, active and dynamic field of study.

Marcel’s project will involve the input of hundreds of scholars from dozens of countries, to incorporate this new body of research to the original EVAW. Published in print and digital, it will comprise of six volumes, some 3,000 individual entries and about 2.1 million words.

You can read about his project in more detail in the Autumn 2016 issue of Research Forum magazine.

Dr Marcel Vellinga was a recipient of the University’s inaugural Research Excellence Awards, which are providing him with the time and funding to undertake this huge project, due to be finished at the end of 2018. 

The Awards were launched earlier this year as part of Oxford Brookes’ commitment to supporting research-active academics and in supporting the aims of the recently revised  Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2016-2020

Keep reading the University’s news pages for further information on the winners of the Research Excellence Awards. 

Imagecredit: Paul Oliver, Riparian settlement, Kampuchea, Cambodia, 2007