Need, necessity, requirement.. Multiple words, a cause for invention.
Vernacular Architecture is also an offspring of this cause. Since primitive times stone age man has been practicing Vernacular Architecture, unknowingly. The use of tree hides, straws, bamboo and the oldest form of shelter i.e. stone caves as places to seek shelter are all an indirect practice of vernacular architecture. Man was forced into using the materials that were locally and easily available to him and creating shelter out of it. Man being the wisest of all living beings has always sought to devise new techniques and technologies to make life simpler. Even though practicing of this style has been slightly perished in the modern days due note has to be made that ‘Green Architecture’, ‘Sustainable Architecture’ are its sister styles.
Vernacular Architecture was not just followed through the usage of locally available materials but construction techniques as well. Vernacular architecture is nothing but local architecture. Assam is one such example where systems such as higher plinth, sloping thatch roof, Earthquake resistant and light weight structure construction, etc. were used. These systems, methods and materials are not just easy to adapt but are all very sustainable techniques. This modulus operandi was adapted when sustainable techniques did not have to be adapted differently. And man had the habit of living in connected communities.
Vernacular architecture did not use formally-schooled architects, but relied on the design skills and tradition of local builders. However, since the late 19th century many professional architects have worked in versions of this style. Vernacular architecture not only considers the climatology and weather of the region but also takes into account locally available materials and elements. Through vernacular architecture regions all over the world have been practicing green architecture naively.
India has a very long history of tradition, vernacular architecture being one. Designing according to the climatology and carrying a specific architecture style in India is region specific. Due to so many different civilization practices that are being followed since ancient times. Even though the style, materials, architectural features differ from region to region the principle of designing vernacular structures remains the same. Vernacular Architecture uses technology available since primordial times and adapts to the current times as well. As Ar. Hassan Fathy believed and promoted the underlying concepts on traditional architecture to form contemporary design in the same way practicing architects can also follow the same concepts and formulate modern designs in the current era.
As we know with the growing population, there arises a distinct need to create sustainable and green living spaces. Even though now with time it has become possible for us to transport materials across seas and oceans the cost for it and the embodied energy that is being unnecessarily wasted has to be considered. Traditional architecture has been a boon for us that is being carried to us since ages. The different techniques that are used are tried tested and experimented a million times by our ancestors to bring to us a perfect and faultless output. Like the saying ‘ Old is Gold’ these techniques and materials of construction are region specific and custom made according to different communities and their style of living. Following these styles of architecture we are not only creating adaptive means to living but are also preserving our heritage.
Hence, Vernacular architecture needs to be practiced everywhere in whatever amounts it may be. As we can see brilliant modern examples that strike out the fact that following the style of vernacular architecture is an age old and backward practice. We as architects must try to incorporate as many vernacular elements may it be through materials or through traditional practices so we remain connected to our roots in what ever way possible.