Vernacular Architecture

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Vernacular Architecture



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The study of vernacular architecture historically has been of broad cross-disciplinary interest. Related scholars and practitioners comprise not only anthropologists, archaeologists, architectural historians, and architects, but also historians with a range of interests, folklorists, geographers, engineers, museum curators, and community activists ; some focusing on issues of materials and construction methods, others on socio-cultural concerns, still others on the history of form and the needs and practicalities of preservation. Vernacular architecture scholars have addressed questions of spatial use and planning, regional variations in form, race and/or ethnic variables in building typology, landscaping and land use, agricultural idioms, suburb enclaves, squatters' communities, and global urban settings. Increasingly energy sustainability and issues of climate also have become a significant feature of vernacular architecture discussion. Related analyses also have broached standard architectural questions with respect to structure, sources, symbolism, patronage, and the unique input of the designer, as well as larger issues of building use.

Table of Contents

Vernacular Architecture6


Literature Review15


Analysis and Discussion25

House, Home, Domesticity, And Mobility29

Builders, Technologies, Aesthetics, And Decoration36

Settlement Plans And Urban Planning38

Architectures And The Subaltern: Empire, Slavery, Colonialism, And Globalization41



Vernacular Architecture


The term 'vernacular architecture' over the last half-century has come to represent a farrago of building traditions that lie outside canonical largely Western building exemplars created generally by formally trained architects. From the Latin vernaculus, meaning native, indigenous, domestic, or subaltern (verna referencing local slaves), vernacular connotes popular as opposed to elite idioms. In contexts of language,vernacular evokes not only spoken language and dialect in contradistinction to literary form, but also everyday language instead of scientific nomenclature. In architecture specifically, the term 'vernacular' embraces an array of traditions around the world ; everyday domiciles, work structures, non-elite places of worship, and cultural sites (battlegrounds and tourist centers, for example) as well as both colonial/settler and settlements. The term also embraces a range of other architectural forms outside the West (elite and otherwise) that long have been overlooked in Western scholarly study. Thus in addition to comprising a large number of structures which generally have been excluded from the study of canonical Western architectural forms, the term 'vernacular architecture' also has provided a salient alternative for the larger grouping of buildings once called 'primitive' -a both pejorative and notably arbitrary classification which set apart the larger grouping of non-Westernarchitecture from Western and Asian exemplars. Forms of vernacular architecture in this way comprise a vast majority of the world's architecture, works remarkable at once for their geographical breadth, historical depth, and socio-cultural diversity.Vernacular forms include small-scale structures of hunter-gatherers as well as global exemplars of empire, structures which have endured through millennia and those whose ephemeral features last for only a few weeks or months.

Despite the importance of vernacular architecture within the larger discussion of ...
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