Vernacular Architecture: Everything You Should Know I Top Tips

Vernacular Architecture: Everything You Should Know

Vernacular Architecture: Everything You Should Know

Vernacular architecture is the local architecture whose construction was made by locals, not necessarily architects.

Moreover, the cultural expressions of each region can be seen in this kind of architecture, the context where it develops is highly determinant and the final result communicates forms of social manifestation.

However, the vernacular architecture draws from local materials, techniques, and particular constructive solutions. The client or user is the one who develops this architecture, relying on the community and tradition as it uses the construction systems of their ancestors. In Africa, there are numerous examples that are studied by architecture professionals from around the world.

Vernacular Architecture: Everything You Should Know
Vernacular Architecture: Everything You Should Know

The vernacular architecture may be a variant of rural architecture and in almost all cases is part of a well away from the cities environment. While there are many examples in warm or tropical climates, we also find examples of houses with bales of straw in Russia. The igloos, the Eskimo houses are also examples of this kind of architecture.

Other Vernacular Architecture Definitions

It is the result of four basic factors that include:

  • Site
  • Weather
  • Material
  • Ability

In vernacular architecture, users design and build in the same place. Therefore, vernacular houses are more profitable compared to contemporary houses.

The Origin

The origin of the vernacular architecture is in the native populations as a constructive solution to the needs of inhabiting.

Although the origins must be sought in each country, this may have begun with the great megalithic constructions. These are gigantic homes for more than 20 people that were made in northern Europe when the man became sedentary. The man when he left the caverns built large houses of straw and branches (similar to that of current vernacular architecture) to house relatives and elements for their livelihood.

The first human settlements with vernacular architecture are Çatal Höyük in Anatolia and Mohenjo Daro, in the Indian subcontinent (now Pakistan). Then the natives continued this practice for millennia, in some regions to the present day.

The Interiors

Moreover, the architecture preserves interior comfort through thermal mass, the thick walls often composed of several layers of materials are responsible for doing the work of protection against the weather.

In summer the thick walls trap the heat that comes from outside leaving the interior considerably cooler than the outside. While in winter, the thermal mass slows the cold and releases the heat accumulated from the sun’s rays during the day at night, offering natural heating inside the house, no mechanical gadget is necessary.

Factors That Influence Vernacular Architecture

The factors are as follows:

  • Climate and geological
  • Local materials used
  • Technology adopted


Furthermore, to know how to recognize what is vernacular architecture and what are not these are some typical specifications that define it:

Vernacular Architecture: Everything You Should Know
Vernacular Architecture: Everything You Should Know
  • They offer an example of the popular culture of the place, where the built structures are associated with functionality and adaptation to the environment.
  • They also try to influence the environment by creating micro-climates to modify the temperature, make changes in the atmosphere, etc.
  • It has beauty and harmony in its forms, also in terms of its structure is different from one place to another, but the essence is the same.
  • However, the materials used are those present in the local environment.
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