The Art of Earth Architecture, by Jean Dethier, is a comprehensive guide to “the history of architecture, settlements, and structures built from earth.” Technical aspects are covered in the first chapter, while other sections give a chronological account of raw earth architecture from antiquity to the present. It was originally published in French, as Habiter la terre: traditions, modernité et avenir de l’art de bâtir en terre crue.
The subtitle—Past, Present, Future— might seem clichéd, though it’s an apt summary of the book’s three key features: a sweeping historical survey, a guide to contemporary trends, and a manifesto for change. That last element is rather excessive, with Dethier’s repeated evangelising about the benefits of raw earth, though the 450 photographs and global coverage make this a definitive book on earth architecture.
The Art of Earth Architecture is one of several recent books on architectural materials. Others include Concrete, Brick, Stone, and Wood (a series by William Hall); Glass in Architecture (by Michael Wigginton); Brick (by James W.P. Campbell); Architecture in Wood (by Will Pryce); Arish (by Sandra Piesik); and Corrugated Iron (by Simon Holloway and Adam Mornement).