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Vernacular architecture

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Vernacular architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

is a term used to categorize methods of construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs and circumstances. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve
Evolution (term)
The English noun evolution refers to any kind of gradual change.It is used in biology, of biological evolution, in economics, historical linguistics, and many other technical fields where systems develop or change gradually over time, e.g...

 over time to reflect the environmental
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

, 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 in current design
Design as a noun informally refers to a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system while “to design” refers to making this plan...


It can be contrasted against polite architecture
Polite architecture
Polite architecture, or "the Polite" refers to buildings designed to include the artifice of non-local styles for decorative effect by professional architects. The term can be used to describe any number of non-vernacular architectural styles...

 which is characterised by stylistic elements of design intentionally incorporated for aesthetic purposes which go beyond a building's functional requirements.

The building knowledge in vernacular architecture is often transported by local traditions and is thus based largely - but not only - upon knowledge achieved by trial and error and handed down through the generations, in contrast to the geometrical and physical calculations that underlie architecture planned by architects.
This of course does not prevent architects from using vernacular architecture in their designs or from being firmly based in the vernacular architecture of their regions. For the similarities to "traditional architecture" see below.


The term vernacular is derived from the Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 vernaculus, meaning "domestic, native, indigenous"; from verna, meaning "native slave" or "home-born slave". The word probably derives from an older Etruscan
Etruscan language
The Etruscan language was spoken and written by the Etruscan civilization, in what is present-day Italy, in the ancient region of Etruria and in parts of Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna...


In linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, vernacular refers to language use particular to a time, place or group. In architecture, it refers to that type of architecture which is indigenous to a specific time or place (not imported or copied from elsewhere). It is most often applied to residential buildings.


Ronald Brunskill
Ronald Brunskill
Dr. Ronald William Brunskill is an academic who was Reader in Architecture at the University of Manchester. He is an authority on the history of architecture and particularly on British vernacular architecture....

 has defined the ultimate in vernacular architecture as:
...a building designed by an amateur without any training in design; the individual will have been guided by a series of conventions built up in his locality, paying little attention to what may be fashionable. The function of the building would be the dominant factor, aesthetic considerations, though present to some small degree, being quite minimal. Local materials would be used as a matter of course, other materials being chosen and imported quite exceptionally.

The term is not to be confused with so-called "traditional" architecture, though there are links between the two. Traditional architecture can also include buildings which bear elements of polite design: temples and palaces, for example, which normally would not be included under the rubric of "vernacular." In architectural terms, 'the vernacular' can be contrasted with 'the polite', which is characterised by stylistic elements of design intentionally incorporated by a professional architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 for aesthetic purposes which go beyond a building's functional requirements. Between the extremes of the wholly vernacular and the completely polite, examples occur which have some vernacular and some polite content, often making the differences between the vernacular and the polite a matter of degree.

The Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World defines vernacular architecture as:
...comprising the dwellings and all other buildings of the people. Related to their environmental contexts and available resources they are customarily owner- or community-built, utilizing traditional technologies. All forms of vernacular architecture are built to meet specific needs, accommodating the values, economies and ways of life of the cultures that produce them.

Vernacular and the architect

Architecture designed by professional architects is usually not considered to be vernacular. Indeed, it can be argued that the very process of consciously designing a building makes it not vernacular. Paul Oliver
Paul Oliver
-Biography:Oliver was a researcher at the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development , and from 1978-88 was Associate Head of the School of Architecture. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire...

, in his book Dwellings, states: "...it is contended that 'popular architecture' designed by professional architects or commercial builders for popular use, does not come within the compass of the vernacular." Oliver also offers the following simple definition of vernacular architecture: "the architecture of the people, and by the people, but not for the people."

Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures and completed 500 works. Wright believed in designing structures which were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture...

 described vernacular architecture as "Folk building growing in response to actual needs, fitted into environment by people who knew no better than to fit them with native feeling". suggesting that it is a primitive form of design, lacking intelligent thought, but he also stated that it was "for us better worth study than all the highly self-conscious academic attempts at the beautiful throughout Europe".

Many modern architects have studied vernacular buildings and claimed to draw inspiration from them, including aspects of the vernacular in their designs. In 1946, the Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian architect Hassan Fathy
Hassan Fathy
Hassan Fathy was a noted Egyptian architect who pioneered appropriate technology for building in Egypt, especially by working to re-establish the use of mud brick and traditional as opposed to western building designs and lay-outs...

 was appointed to design the town of New Gourna near Luxor
Luxor is a city in Upper Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The population numbers 487,896 , with an area of approximately . As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open air museum", as the ruins of the temple...

. Having studied traditional Nubian settlements and technologies, he incorporated the traditional mud brick vaults of the Nubian settlements in his designs. The experiment failed, due to a variety of social and economic reasons, but is the first recorded attempt by an architect to address the social and environmental requirements of building users by adopting the methods and forms of the vernacular.

In 1964 the exhibition Architecture Without Architects was put on at the Museum of Modern Art, New York by Bernard Rudofsky
Bernard Rudofsky
Bernard Rudofsky was an Moravian-born American writer, architect, collector, teacher, designer, and social historian....

. Accompanied by a book of the same title, including black-and-white photography of vernacular buildings around the world, the exhibition was extremely popular. It was Rudofsky who first made use of the term vernacular in an architectural context, and brought the concept into the eye of the public and of mainstream architecture: "For want of a generic label we shall call it vernacular, anonymous, spontaneous, indigenous, rural, as the case may be."

Since the emergence of the term in the 1970s, vernacular considerations have played an increasing part in architectural designs, although individual architects had widely varying opinions of the merits of the vernacular.

Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa
Geoffrey Bawa
Deshamanya Geoffrey Manning Bawa, FRIBA was a Sri Lankan architect. He is the most renowned architect in Sri Lanka and was among the most influential Asian architects of his generation. He is the principal force behind what is today known globally as ‘tropical modernism’.-Early life:Geoffrey Bawa...

 is considered the pioneer of regional modernism in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. Along with him, modern proponents of the use of the vernacular in architectural design include Charles Correa
Charles Correa
Charles Correa is an Indian architect, planner and activist.-Early life:Charles Correa was born in Hyderabad, India...

, a well known Indian architect; Muzharul Islam and Bashirul Haq
Bashirul Haq
Bashirul Haq is a Bangladeshi architect. He was born in 1938 at Bhatshala, Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh. He is known for his ideological place-responsive architectural style. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture from National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan in 1964. He completed his Master of...

, internationally known Bangladeshi architects; Balkrishna Doshi, another Indian, who established the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad also known as Karnavati is the largest city in Gujarat, India. It is the former capital of Gujarat and is also the judicial capital of Gujarat as the Gujarat High Court has its seat in Ahmedabad...

 to research the vernacular architecture of the region; and Sheila Sri Prakash
Sheila Sri Prakash
Sheila Sri Prakash is an architect and planner of Indian origin. She founded Shilpa Architects in Chennai, India in 1979 and has the distinction of being the first woman in India to have started and operated her own architectural firm...

 who has used rural Indian architecture as an inspiration for innovations in environmental and socio-economically sustainable design and planning. The Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck
Aldo van Eyck
Aldo van Eyck or van Eijk was an architect from the Netherlands.-Family:...

 was also a proponent of vernacular architecture. Architects whose work exemplifies the modern take on vernacular architecture would be Samuel Mockbee
Samuel Mockbee
Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee was an American architect and a co-founder of the Auburn University Rural Studio program in Hale County, Alabama....

, Christopher Alexander
Christopher Alexander
Christopher Wolfgang Alexander is a registered architect noted for his theories about design, and for more than 200 building projects in California, Japan, Mexico and around the world...

 and Paolo Soleri
Paolo Soleri
Paolo Soleri is an Italian-American architect. He established Arcosanti and the educational Cosanti Foundation. Soleri is a lecturer in the College of Architecture at Arizona State University and a National Design Award recipient in 2006.-Early life:Soleri was born in Turin, Italy...


Oliver claims that:
As yet there is no clearly defined and specialized discipline for the study of dwellings or the larger compass of vernacular architecture. If such a discipline were to emerge it would probably be one that combines some of the elements of both architecture and anthropology with aspects of history and geography

Influences on the vernacular

Vernacular architecture is influenced by a great range of different aspects of human behaviour and environment, leading to differing building forms for almost every different context; even neighbouring villages may have subtly different approaches to the construction and use of their dwellings, even if they at first appear the same. Despite these variations, every building is subject to the same laws of physics, and hence will demonstrate significant similarities in structural forms
Structural engineering
Structural engineering is a field of engineering dealing with the analysis and design of structures that support or resist loads. Structural engineering is usually considered a specialty within civil engineering, but it can also be studied in its own right....



One of the most significant influences on vernacular architecture is the macro climate of the area in which the building is constructed. Buildings in cold climates invariably have high thermal mass or significant amounts of insulation. They are usually sealed in order to prevent heat loss, and openings such as windows tend to be small or non-existent. Buildings in warm climates, by contrast, tend to be constructed of lighter materials and to allow significant cross-ventilation through openings in the fabric of the building.

Buildings for a continental climate must be able to cope with significant variations in temperature, and may even be altered by their occupants according to the seasons.

Buildings take different forms depending on precipitation levels in the region - leading to dwellings on stilts in many regions with frequent flooding or rainy monsoon seasons. Flat roofs are rare in areas with high levels of precipitation. Similarly, areas with high winds will lead to specialised buildings able to cope with them, and buildings will be oriented to present minimal area to the direction of prevailing winds.

Climatic influences on vernacular architecture are substantial and can be extremely complex. Mediterranean vernacular, and that of much of the Middle East, often includes a courtyard with a fountain or pond; air cooled by water mist and evaporation is drawn through the building by the natural ventilation set up by the building form. Similarly, Northern African vernacular often has very high thermal mass and small windows to keep the occupants cool, and in many cases also includes chimneys, not for fires but to draw air through the internal spaces. Such specialisations are not designed, but learnt by trial and error over generations of building construction, often existing long before the scientific theories which explain why they work.


The way of life of building occupants, and the way they use their shelters, is of great influence on building forms. The size of family units, who shares which spaces, how food is prepared and eaten, how people interact and many other cultural considerations will affect the layout and size of dwellings.

For example, the family units of several East African tribes live in family compounds, surrounded by marked boundaries, in which separate single-roomed dwellings are built to house different members of the family. In polygamous tribes there may be separate dwellings for different wives, and more again for sons who are too old to share space with the women of the family. Social interaction within the family is governed by, and privacy is provided by, the separation between the structures in which family members live. By contrast, in Western Europe, such separation is accomplished inside one dwelling, by dividing the building into separate rooms.

Culture also has a great influence on the appearance of vernacular buildings, as occupants often decorate buildings in accordance with local customs and beliefs.

Nomadic dwellings

There are many cultures around the world which include some aspect of nomadic life, and they have all developed vernacular solutions for the need for shelter. These all include appropriate responses to climate and customs of their inhabitants, including practicalities of simple construction, and if necessary, transport.

The Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 people have a number of different forms of shelter appropriate to different seasons and geographical locations, including the igloo
An igloo or snowhouse is a type of shelter built of snow, originally built by the Inuit....

 (for winter) and the tupiq tent (for summer). The Sami
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

 of Northern Europe, who live in climates similar to those experienced by the Inuit, have developed different shelters appropriate to their culture, including the atnaris-kahte tent. The development of different solutions in similar circumstances because of cultural influences is typical of vernacular architecture.

Many nomadic people use materials common in the local environment to construct temporary dwellings, such as the Punan of Sarawak who use palm fronds, or the Ituri Pygmies who use saplings and mongongo leaves to construct domed huts. Other cultures reuse materials, transporting them with them as they move. Examples of this are the tribes of Mongolia, who carry their yurt
A yurt is a portable, bent wood-framed dwelling structure traditionally used by Turkic nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises a crown or compression wheel usually steam bent, supported by roof ribs which are bent down at the end where they meet the lattice wall...

s or gers with them, or the black desert tents of the Qashgai in Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Notable in each case is the signicant impact of the availability of materials and the availability of pack animals or other forms of transport on the ultimate form of the shelters.

All the shelters will be adapted to suit the local climate. The Mongolian gers, for example, are versatile enough to be cool in hot continental summers and warm in the sub-zero temperaturs of Mongolian winters, and include a closable ventilation hole at the centre and a chimney for a stove. A ger is typically not often relocated, and is therefore sturdy and secure, including wooden front door and several layers of coverings. A berber tent, by contrast, might be relocated daily, and is much lighter and quicker to erect and dismantle - and because of the climate it is used in, does not need to provide the same degree of protection from the elements.

Permanent dwellings

The type of structure and materials used for a dwelling vary depending on how permanent it is. Frequently moved nomadic structures will be lightweight and simple, more permanent ones will be less so. When people settle somewhere permanently, the architecture of their dwellings will change to reflect that.

Materials used will become heavier, more solid and more durable. They may also become more complicated and more expensive, as the capital and labour required to construct them is a one-time cost. Permanent dwellings often offer a greater degree of protection and shelter from the elements. In some cases however, where dwellings are subjected to severe weather conditions such as frequent flooding or high winds, buildings may be deliberately "designed" to fail and be replaced, rather than requiring the uneconomical or even impossible structures needed to withstand them. The collapse of a relatively flimsy, lightweight structure is also less likely to cause serious injury than a heavy structure.

Over time, dwellings' architecture may come to reflect a very specific geographical locale.

Environment and materials

The local environment and the construction materials it can provide governs many aspect of vernacular architecture. Areas rich in trees will develop a wooden vernacular, while areas without much wood may use mud or stone. In the Far East it is common to use bamboo, as it is both plentiful and versatile. Vernacular, almost by definition, is sustainable, and will not exhaust the local resources. If it is not sustainable, it is not suitable for its local context, and cannot be vernacular.


An early work in the defense of vernacular was Bernard Rudofsky
Bernard Rudofsky
Bernard Rudofsky was an Moravian-born American writer, architect, collector, teacher, designer, and social historian....

's 1964 book Architecture Without Architects: a short introduction to non-pedigreed architecture
Architecture Without Architects
thumb|right|200px|Architecture Without Architects coverArchitecture Without Architects: A Short Introduction to Non-pedigreed Architecture is a book by Bernard Rudofsky originally published in 1964. It provides a demonstration of the artistic, functional, and cultural richness of vernacular...

, based on his MoMA
Moma may refer to:* Moma , an owlet moth genus* Moma Airport, a Russian public airport* Moma District, Nampula, Mozambique* Moma River, a right tributary of the Indigirka River* Google Moma, the Google corporate intranet...

 exhibition. The book was a reminder of the legitimacy and "hard-won knowledge" inherent in vernacular buildings, from Polish salt-caves
-External links:***...

 to gigantic Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n water wheels to Moroccan
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 desert fortresses, and was considered iconoclastic at the time. Rudofsky was, however, very much a Romantic
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 who viewed native populations in a historical bubble of contentment. Rudofsky's book was also based largely on photographs and not on on-site study.

A more nuanced work is the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World
Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World
The Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World is a three-volume encyclopedia detailing the traditional architecture of the world, by cultural region...

edited in 1997 by Paul Oliver
Paul Oliver
-Biography:Oliver was a researcher at the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development , and from 1978-88 was Associate Head of the School of Architecture. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire...

 of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

. Oliver argues that vernacular architecture, given the insights it gives into issues of environmental adaptation, will be necessary in the future to "ensure sustainability in both cultural and economic terms beyond the short term." Christopher Alexander
Christopher Alexander
Christopher Wolfgang Alexander is a registered architect noted for his theories about design, and for more than 200 building projects in California, Japan, Mexico and around the world...

, in his book A Pattern Language
A Pattern Language
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is a 1977 book on architecture, urban design, and community livability. It was authored by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein of the Center for Environmental Structure of Berkeley, California, with writing credits also to...

, attempted to identify adaptive features of traditional architecture that apply across cultures. Howard Davis's book The Culture of Building
The Culture of Building
The Culture of Building is a 2000 book by Howard Davis that details the culture that enabled several vernacular architecture traditions....

details the culture that enabled several vernacular traditions.

Some extend the term vernacular to include any architecture outside the academic mainstream. The term "commercial vernacular", popularized in the late 1960s by the publication of Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi
Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. is an American architect, founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, and one of the major figures in the architecture of the twentieth century...

's "Learning from Las Vegas", refers to 20th century American suburban tract and commercial architecture. There is also the concept of an "industrial vernacular" with its emphasis on the aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

 of shops
A workshop is a room or building which provides both the area and tools that may be required for the manufacture or repair of manufactured goods...

, garages
Automobile repair shop
An automobile repair shop is a place where automobiles are repaired by auto mechanics and electricians.- Types :The automotive garage can be divided in so many category....

 and factories. Some have linked vernacular with "off-the-shelf" aesthetics. In any respect, those who study these types of vernaculars hold that the low-end characteristics of this aesthetic define a useful and fundamental approach to architectural design.

Among those who study vernacular architecture are those who are interested in the question of everyday life and those lean toward questions of sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

. In this, many were influenced by The Practice of Everyday Life
The Practice of Everyday Life
The Practice of Everyday Life is a book by Michel de Certeau which examines the ways in which people individualise mass culture, altering things, from utilitarian objects to street plans to rituals, laws and language, in order to make them their own. It was originally published in French as...

 (1974) by Michel de Certeau
Michel de Certeau
Michel de Certeau was a French Jesuit and scholar whose work combined history, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and the social sciences.-Education:...


Humanitarian response

An appreciation of vernacular architecture is increasingly seen as vital in the immediate response to disasters and the following construction of transitional shelter
Transitional shelter
Transitional shelter is any of a range of shelter options that help a person or population displaced by conflict or natural disaster until they return to permanent accommodation....

 if it is needed. The work Transitional Settlement: Displaced Populations, produced by Shelter Centre covers the use of vernacular in humanitarian response and argues its importance.

The value of housing displaced people in shelters which are in some way familiar is seen to provide reassurance and comfort following often very traumatic times. As the needs change from saving lives to providing medium to long term shelter the construction of locally appropriate and accepted housing can be very important.

Legal aspects

As many jurisdictions introduce tougher building code
Building code
A building code, or building control, is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the...

s and zoning
Zoning is a device of land use planning used by local governments in most developed countries. The word is derived from the practice of designating permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one set of land uses from another...

 regulations, "folk architects" sometimes find themselves in conflict with the local authorities. A case that made news in Russia was that of an Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk , formerly known as Archangel in English, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea in the north of European Russia. The city spreads for over along the banks of the river...

 entrepreneur Nikolay P. Sutyagin, who built what was reportedly the world's tallest single-family wooden house for himself and his family, only to see it condemned as a fire hazard. The 13-storey, 144 feet (43.9 m) tall structure, known locally as "Sutyagin's skyscraper"
Sutyagin house
The Sutyagin House was a wooden house in Arkhangelsk, Russia. The 13-story, of the local entrepreneur Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin was reported to be the world's, or at least Russia's, tallest wooden house. Constructed by Mr. Sutyagin and his family over 15 years , without formal plans or a building...

 (Небоскрёб Сутягина), was found to be in violation of Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk , formerly known as Archangel in English, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea in the north of European Russia. The city spreads for over along the banks of the river...

 building codes, and in 2008 the courts ordered the building to be demolished by February 1, 2009. On December 26, 2008, the tower was pulled down, and the remainder was dismantled manually over the course of the next several months.

Vernacular architecture - examples by Region

  • The Black house
    Black house
    A blackhouse is a traditional type of house which used to be common in the Highlands of Scotland, the Hebrides, and Ireland.- Origin of the name :...

  • East Ayrshire, Medieval turf house
    Medieval turf building in Cronberry
    Excavations in Cronberry East Ayrshire, Scotland by Headland Archaeology revealed a medieval turf building and a nearby enclosure of unknown date. The turf structure was sub-rectangular and contained a hearth surrounded by some paving. Pottery dating to no later than the 16th century was recovered...

  • A Caithness, croft house with whale bone couples, Brotchie's Steading, Dunnet
    Dunnet ) is a village in Caithness, in the Highland area of Scotland. It is within the Parish of Dunnet.The village centres on the A836–B855 road junction. The A836 leads towards John o' Groats in the east and toward Thurso and Tongue in the west...

United States
  • Vernacular Architecture of Rural and Small-Town Missouri, by Howard Wight Marshall http://missourifolkloresociety.truman.edu/marshall.html
  • Earl A. Young
    Earl Young (architect)
    Earl A. Young was an American architect, realtor and insurance agent. Over a span of 52 years, he designed and built 31 structures in Charlevoix, Michigan but was never a registered architect. He worked mostly in stone, using limestone, fieldstone, and boulders he found throughout Northern Michigan...

     (born March 31, 1889 – May 24, 1975) was an American architect, realtor and insurance agent. Over a span of 52 years, he designed and built 31 structures in Charlevoix, Michigan
    Charlevoix, Michigan
    Charlevoix is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 2,994. It is the county seat of Charlevoix County....

     but was never a registered architect
    An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

    . He worked mostly in stone
    Rock (geology)
    In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

    , using limestone
    Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

    , fieldstone
    Fieldstone is a building construction material. Strictly speaking, it is stone collected from the surface of fields where it occurs naturally...

    , and boulders he found throughout Northern Michigan
    Northern Michigan
    Northern Michigan, also known as Northern Lower Michigan , is a region of the U.S. state of Michigan...

    . The homes are commonly referred to as gnome
    A gnome is a diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature...

     homes, mushroom houses
    Mushroom House
    The Mushroom House or Pod House is a contemporary residence in the town of Perinton, New York which has been featured in television programs and books due to its whimsical appearance. Patterned after umbels of Queen's Anne's Lace, its brown color is more suggestive of mushrooms...

    , or Hobbit houses. His door, window, roof and fireplace designs were very distinct because of his use of curved lines. Young's goal was to show that a small stone house could be as impressive as a castle. Young also helped make Charlevoix the busy, summer resort town that it is today.


Different regions in Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 have their own distinctive style of vernacular architecture. For example, in the Carpathian Mountains
Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe...

 and the surrounding foothills
Foothills are geographically defined as gradual increases in elevation at the base of a mountain range. They are a transition zone between plains and low relief hills to the adjacent topographically high mountains.-Examples:...

, wood and clay are the primary traditional building materials.

The Museum of Folk Architecture and Way of Life of Central Naddnipryanshchyna is located in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi
Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi is a town located where Alta River flows into Trubizh River in the Kiev Oblast in central Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi Raion , the town itself is also designated as a separate raion within the oblast...

, Ukraine. The open air museum contains 13 theme museums, 122 examples of national architecture, and over 30,000 historical cultural objects. The Museum of Decorative Finishes is one of the featured museums that preserves the handiwork of decorative architectural applications often used in Ukrainian architecture
Ukrainian architecture
Ukrainian architecture is a term that describes the motifs and styles that are found in structures built in modern Ukraine, and by Ukrainians worldwide. These include initial roots which were established in the Eastern Slavic state of Kievan Rus'. After the 12th century, the distinct architectural...


See also

House types:
  • Hut
    Hut may refer to:*Hut , a small and crude shelter*Hans Hut , Anabaptist leader*Hut Records, an English audio records company*Sunglass Hut International, largest American retailer of sunglasses...

  • Mountain hut
  • Log cabin
    Log cabin
    A log cabin is a house built from logs. It is a fairly simple type of log house. A distinction should be drawn between the traditional meanings of "log cabin" and "log house." Historically most "Log cabins" were a simple one- or 1½-story structures, somewhat impermanent, and less finished or less...

  • Oast house
    Oast house
    An oast, oast house or hop kiln is a building designed for kilning hops as part of the brewing process. They can be found in most hop-growing areas and are often good examples of vernacular architecture...

  • Trullo
    A trullo is a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof. Their style of construction is specific to the Itria Valley, in the Murge area of the Italian region of Apulia. Trulli were generally constructed as temporary field shelters and storehouses or as permanent dwellings by small...

  • Half-timbered construction
  • Black house
    Black house
    A blackhouse is a traditional type of house which used to be common in the Highlands of Scotland, the Hebrides, and Ireland.- Origin of the name :...

  • Vernacular Architecture Forum
    Vernacular Architecture Forum
    The Vernacular Architecture Forum is a scholarly organization founded in 1980 to support the study and preservation of all aspects of vernacular architecture and landscapes. The organization has brought together scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of disciplines--geography, folklore,...

  • Architecture, SUST

Real-life examples:
  • Indian vernacular architecture
    Indian vernacular architecture
    Indian vernacular architecture is the informal, functional architecture of structures, often in rural areas of India, built of local materials and designed to meet the needs of the local people...

  • Slow architecture
    Slow architecture
    Slow Architecture is a term believed to have grown from the Slow Food movement of the mid 1980's. Slow Architecture is generally architecture that is created gradually and organically, as opposed to building it quickly for short term goals...

  • Vernacular architecture of the Carpathians
    Vernacular architecture of the Carpathians
    The vernacular architecture of the Carpathians draws on environmental and cultural sources to create unique designs.Vernacular architecture refers to non-professional, folk architecture, including that of the peasants...

  • Vernacular architecture in Norway
    Vernacular architecture in Norway
    Vernacular architecture in Norway covers about 4,000 years of archeological, literary, and preserved structures. Within the history of Norwegian architecture, vernacular traditions form a distinct and pervasive influence that persists to this day....

  • Machiya
    ' are traditional wooden townhouses found throughout Japan and typified in the historical capital of Kyoto. Machiya and nōka constitute the two categories of Japanese vernacular architecture known as minka...

     - traditional Japanese wooden town houses
  • Broken Angel House
    Broken Angel House
    Broken Angel or the Broken Angel house is a building located at 4/6 Downing Street in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, at the intersection of Downing and Quincy street. The house is a neighborhood institution and was featured prominently as a backdrop in the film Dave...

  • Watts Towers
    Watts Towers
    The Watts Towers or Towers of Simon Rodia in the Watts district of Los Angeles, California, is a collection of 17 interconnected structures, two of which reach heights of over 99 feet . The Towers were built by Italian immigrant construction worker Sabato Rodia in his spare time over a period of...

  • Witch window
    Witch window
    In American vernacular architecture, a witch window is a window placed in the gable-end wall of a house and rotated approximately 1/8 of a turn from the vertical, leaving it diagonal, with its long edge...

  • Laurie Baker
    Laurie Baker
    Laurence Wilfred "Laurie" Baker was an award-winning British-born Indian architect, renowned for his initiatives in cost-effective energy-efficient architecture and for his unique space utilisation and simple but beautiful aesthetic sensibility...

  • Geoffrey Bawa
    Geoffrey Bawa
    Deshamanya Geoffrey Manning Bawa, FRIBA was a Sri Lankan architect. He is the most renowned architect in Sri Lanka and was among the most influential Asian architects of his generation. He is the principal force behind what is today known globally as ‘tropical modernism’.-Early life:Geoffrey Bawa...

  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser
    Friedensreich Hundertwasser
    Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser was an Austrian painter and architect. Born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna, he became one of the best-known contemporary Austrian artists, although controversial, by the end of the 20th century.-Life:Hundertwasser's father Ernst Stowasser died three...

  • Howard Moffitt
  • Mudéjar
    Mudéjar is the name given to individual Moors or Muslims of Al-Andalus who remained in Iberia after the Christian Reconquista but were not converted to Christianity...

Sources & further reading

Large format. Clifton-Taylor pioneered the study of the English vernacular. Carl Pruscha, Austrian architect and United Nations-UNESCO advisor to the government of Nepal, lived and worked in the Himalayas 1964–74. He continued his acitivities as head of the design studio "Habitat, Environment and Conservation" at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
  • Wharton, David. "Roadside Architecture." Southern Spaces, February 1, 2005, http://southernspaces.org/2005/roadside-architecture.

External links