History and Vernacular Architecture
Amidst the revolutionising technologies and innovation in construction material, mankind has constructed the marvels of architecture in various civilizations. The world has been evolving since day one, and our forward-looking approach is compelling us to move ahead and develop the grandeur of architecture with further improvements. The field of construction and architecture have been evolving since the day when a person constructed their first adobe. This means construction and mankind run parallel to each other; from houses made of mud to the buildings revolving around smart technologies, we have come a long way.
Graana.com through this blog brings forward the concept of Vernacular Architecture which is a reminiscence of the early days of architecture and construction. As mentioned earlier, the construction and architecture are marked by a great evolution, from the neolithic era to the contemporary age, mankind has used the earth’s natural resources for revealing the construction marvels on the earth.
Defining Vernacular Architecture
Vernacular Architecture can be defined as a construction type that adheres to the local or regional norms in the construction practices. Thus it can be said that Vernacular architecture relates to the indigenous designs which have evolved from a particular region. It can be observed that the structures which have a historical significance and existed since the early ages have a unique and distinguishable architecture and construction material of their own. Furthermore, the book Built to meet needs: Cultural Issues in Vernacular Architecture states that the environment has a great impact on design and construction which compelled a person to use different materials depending on the atmosphere, climate and weather conditions.
Below mentioned are the major attributes of the vernacular architecture
The first and the foremost attribute of Vernacular Architecture is tradition. If we take a look at the history of ancient civilizations it can be observed that the designs of the buildings were heavily influenced by the traditions of respective civilizations. For example, the greek civilization had altogether different designs for their structure while the Indus civilization had a unique set of their buildings. Moreover, those traditional designs are still alive today and have a special place in the cultures of various regions. It is pertinent to mention here that vernacular architecture has great bioclimatic characteristics which provide sustainable architectural examples.
Somewhat closer to the ‘traditional’ attribute, the vernacular architecture keeps the context of a surrounding relevant for example, societal, environmental and cultural. The vernacular designs used to evolve in a special context. For instance, the construction materials used in hot and dry climates were strong and resilient, ‘Ziggurat’ in Messopatmia was made of high-quality clay and bricks. Similarly, the areas across the river Nile in Egypt used to incorporate the fertile soil which was used in the construction of homes at that time. The lifestyle of the people is heavily dependent on cultural norms and that is also reflected in the vernacular buildings.
Conventional materials are also among the major attributes of Vernacular Architecture. Since the concept dates back to ancient times, therefore, the material used in the construction was also very conventional. Clay and bricks were the most used construction materials and in the tropical regions use of bamboo and leaves were very common. Particularly in the buildings of the tropical environment, those materials were used which responded most effectively to the moisture, water and humid conditions. In the case of South Asian societies, to strengthen the structures of the buildings additives like animal dung, seaweed, and bitumen were used. Thus, in excavations components like seaweed, sandstone, and traces of salty water are found which proves the cognizance of people with the construction practices.
Absence of Technology
Technology had no role to play in vernacular buildings, there were no concise professional practices for constructing vernacular buildings. Therefore, the buildings developed in the historic times were simple which depict the expertise of the people in the field. Despite the absence of technology or professional expertise, the vernacular buildings are evidence of the fact that people had the know-how of using earthly materials to survive. Owing to the absence of technology, the high-rises were developed using man-made structures for giving alleviation to the structures. Hence it can be said that vernacular architecture has a great influence on the buildings of today.