Sunday, 18 April 2010

A case for the Vernacular...

  I am in the process of undertaking a magister Scientiae (Master of Science) degree in ‘Intelligent Buildings’. Intelligent Buildings can be defined as being; ‘An intelligent building is one which provides a productive and cost-effective environment through optimisation of its four basic elements; structure, systems, services and management, and the interrelationship between them. [Intelligent Buildings: Concept, Strategy & Management - paper written by Rudo Nyangulu]. I chose this program because the course sounded interesting; I have always loved architecture, (particularly old church buildings) and I was working in the industry at the start of the course and wanted more formal knowledge. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I love my course and have really enjoyed expanding my knowledge base to include the sciences when I have historically been one for the arts.

 As part of this study I have to carry out a research project of my choosing, the question is, what do I feel passionate about???? After much deliberation (not to mention flirtation with two other topics); having found a cause I am passionate about I have decided on the following;

The concept of ‘Sustainable Communities’ in relation to developing an international principle or (minimum) standard / criteria for a home dwelling

I have not as yet settled on a title but I have embarked on the journey of researching my subject area to ascertain its feasibility and if in fact such a standard already exists and if so how well it is delivered…there is certainly much to consider…What I do already know is that any such principle / standard would only be successfully achieved if vernacular architecture plays a central role.

Vernacular architecture refers to common domestic architecture of a region, usually far simpler than what the technology of the time is capable of maintaining. In highly industrialized countries such as the U.S., for example, barns are still being built according to a design employed in Europe in the 1st millennium BC. Vernacular structures are characterized by inexpensive materials and straightforwardly utilitarian design.

Vernacular architecture is a term used to categorise methods of construction which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect the environmental, cultural and historical context in which it exists. It has often been dismissed as crude and unrefined, but also has proponents who highlight its importance current design.  []

I am convinced that by adapting vernacular architecture successfully, through the participation and approval of local people, who will be able to manage, repair and occupy these dwellings, we can eradicate poor housing standards and their associated health risks around the world…watch this space…


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