Vernacular vs Globalisation II
Norbert, I enjoyed your May 25th 2013 post "Vernacular architecture and globalisation" and the points you made so much that I feel they deserve their own topic. :)

You closed with "its much liked by the users, but not by the authorities / politicians, as it has not enogh modern materials and it is not recognised in the architectural community, where more spectacular things are expected, although they have hardly any impact in the building practice, as they are not repeated."

Firstly, frequent users (of buildings) almost always have a different view from politicians who prefer buildings to be theatre stages which therefore magnify the image of the politican.

Secondly, `the architectural community` which seems to be mainly empty-headed glossy magazines which promote empty-headed glitzy architecture are on another planet and not the one called reality. For myself, I mourn the loss of the international architectural journal "Mimar" which presented a mixture of many different aspects of design and architecture.

Thirdly, there are many modernist misconceptions about traditional and vernacular architecture, starting with Adolf Loos` "Ornament is Crime" because the value of most vernacular designs comes from spatial morphology and (to coin a couple of phrases) spatial physiology and spatial psychology.

Furthermore, even more value comes from the continual synthesis of old and new materials and the synthesis of old and new techniques, processes by which vernacular (aka homegrown) architecture all over the world evolves and has evolved for thousands of years.

But what you ask is the reason for `the architectural community` ignoring vernacular designs? And I would say that because many vernacular designs are DIY (do it yourself) and made non-architects then such designs bypass the whole system of architectural education.

This might not sound serious, but if creative and innovative architectural designs can be done by non-architects, then what is `the reason for being` of today`s system of architectural education?
Frank John Snelling
Vernacular vs Globalisation II
Dear Frank,
Thanks for picking-up the issue in a wider perspective. Just a few thoughts:
- I hope we get a wide and sound discussion of what shall be improved especially with regard to the poor 2/3 of the population.
- It is really an issue of architectural education and self understanding. A lot of what people do in the rural areas is really better than what “ professionals “ propose
- There was a discussion, if form or function comes first. For users, it is the function ( of course under all aspects, including the well feeling and the cultural identity) a bicycle with square wheels may be a monument, but not a usable bicycle…
- If I look at the short list of the Aga Khan Award, it seems that mostly the unusual is in the main stream , not that what really helps the average people, not that what can be repeated
- To what extend can we afford fashion in Architecture, or to condemn, what was considered good before and then after it was partly destroyed, tried to bring it back again ( a striking example is in Kabul at the river side town-planning where things were changed forth and back again)
- How could we get the discussion on another level, getting key players on board, not only those who look at finding something for their thesis?

- A lot of traditional designs work better than most modern approaches – a good example is the Gurjarat court yard house, which is also the basic concept for the Ahmadabad traditional house
- For example in Islamabad, you can see a building with glaze facades which collets so much heat that the real side is full of fan coil units to get the heat out again – a waste of energy.
- Any traditional building is rather comfortable , in the given climate and if all building would be air-conditioned, the world climate is likely to collapse
This is just to trigger the discussion..
Norbert E. Wilhelm


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