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    New Vernacular Architecture

    by Vicky Richardson

    "Vernacular architecture," strictly speaking, could be a contradiction in terms. The vernacular is the unconscious work of craftsmen based on knowledge accumulated over generations perhaps the very opposite of architecture, which is often considered to involve a premeditated design process with a conscious appeal to the intellect.

    Yet the term is a convenient shorthand to describe an approach that adopts the spirit of the vernacular, if not its actual forms. It is not intended to indicate a new style in fact, many "new vernacular" architects reject the concept of style.

    The term instead describes their intention to reflect by "analogous inspiration" the characteristics of local buildings, their scale in particular, whether they have chosen to concentrate on the use of materials, the landscape, the local culture, or even no more than the idea of continuity with the past.

    In his introduction to An Outline of European Architecture, Nikolaus Pevsner presented the distinction between building and architecture as simple. It was the difference between a bicycle shed and Lincoln Cathedral, he said. "Nearly everything that encloses space on a scale sufficient for a human being to move in is a building; the term architecture applies only to buildings designed with a view to aesthetic appeal."   >>>

     
    This article is excerpted from New Vernacular Architecture by Vicky Richardson, with permission of the publisher, Watson-Guptill Publications.

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    ArchWeek Image

    The Chhebetar Orphanage, designed by Hans Olav Hesseberg and Sixten Rahlff, nestles into the hillside of a small Nepalese village.
    Photo: Hans Olav Hesseberg and Sixten Rahlff

    ArchWeek Image

    The building was constructed by local people using traditional skills.
    Photo: Hans Olav Hesseberg and Sixten Rahlff

     

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