Khan, Hasan-Uddin. "Being, Forgetting, Remembering: Stewardship, Spirituality, and Change in the Vernacular Built Environment." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 4, Number 1 (pp. 5-27), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2014.
The correlation between belief in the stewardship of the earth and vernacular architecture yields a sensitivity to nature and to the spirituality of place in building construction. Patterns in nature are thus reflected in the organic forms of buildings and in various urban interventions. The notion of stewardship is also deeply embed in the teachings of Islam and other religions and cultural systems. Past architecture exhibits knowledge about the relationship and balance between the built and natural environment (A Place of Being). The scientific revolution, the industrial revolution and specialization seemed to bring with them the separation of beauty and utility and also encouraged an aggressive attitude toward the exploitation of nature. In the larger project of modernity ‘progress and development’ deepened the rupture between the built and natural realms (A Place of Forgetting). In the past two decades or so, environmental awareness and economic imperatives have begun to generate programs that have resulted in built works that attempt to heal the scars in the landscape and to be more sensitive to place (A Place of Remembering). Today, some architectural projects, based on ethical concerns, are beginning to reconnect contemporary architectural projects to the wisdom of the past in order to produce solutions for a sustainable built environment (A New Place of Being), and perhaps a new vernacular built environment.
Keywords: a place of being/forgetting/remembering; authenticity; stewardship; sustainability; vernacular architecture