"Indigenous technologies are not lost or forgotten, only hidden by the shadow of progress in the most remote places on Earth". In her book Lo-TEK: design by radical indigenism, Julia Watson proposes to revalue the techniques of construction, production, cultivation and extraction carried out by diverse remote populations who, generation after generation, have managed to keep alive ancestral cultural practices integrated with nature, with a low environmental cost and simple execution. While modern societies tried to conquer nature in the name of progress, these indigenous cultures worked in collaboration with nature, understanding ecosystems and species cycles to articulate their architecture into an integrated and symbiotically interconnected whole.
Vernacular Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
Upon becoming a sovereign country, free from British Rule, the people of India found themselves faced with questions they had never needed to answer before. Coming from different cultures and origins, the citizens began to wonder what post-independence India would stand for. The nation-builders now had the choice to carve out their own future, along with the responsibility to reclaim its identity - but what was India's identity? Was it the temples and huts of the indigenous folk, the lofty palaces of the Mughal era, or the debris of British rule? There began a search for a contemporary Indian sensibility that would carry the collective histories of citizens towards a future of hope.
The 22nd of March 2022 saw the twenty-ninth commemoration of World Water Day – as a worldwide water crisis continues to leave populations vulnerable. It is an extremely multi-faceted issue. Governance sadly determines water accessibility, with marginalized people disproportionally affected. Urban typologies are another factor. The over-pumping of groundwater sources to meet the water demands of Hanoi, for instance, has resulted in arsenic being drawn into Vietnam’s village wells.
For centuries and centuries we’ve built – and the diversity in our global built environment is a testament to that. The many different cultures around the globe have had different ways of building throughout history, adapting locally found materials to construct their structures. Today, in our globalized present, building materials are transported across the globe far from their origins, a situation that means two buildings on completely opposites sides of the world can be more or less identical.
Last Tuesday, March 15, Francis Kéré became the first African architect to win the Pritzker Prize, the most important award in the architecture discipline.
The election of Kéré is not only symbolic in a time of identity demands, where the institutions that make up the mainstream are required to more faithfully represent the social, cultural, and sexual realities that make up our societies, but it also confirms the recent approach of the Pritzker Prize jury.
The architecture of indigenous peoples is deeply rooted in their surroundings, in the sense that materials are locally sourced and empirically tested, to discover the construction techniques and dwellings that best respond to the values of the community and their understanding of housing. The situation in the Amazon is no different. Many different groups of people have settled on the land and water, developing many unique building skills that attract a lot of architects working in these regions. As a result, there is an exchange of knowledge, combining native cultures and novel architecture.
Vernacular techniques and local materials are becoming more and more relevant in architecture, but is it possible to bring these concepts to large urban areas?
In 1984, the Amazonian architect Severiano Porto had already pointed out the need to make architecture more connected to its location. Using local materials and techniques is becoming more important each day, considering the impacts of the commodity chain of building construction on the planet. Not surprisingly, the number of projects that use this approach is growing every day, as Severiano has already mentioned in his work since the 1980s.
The American architect, designer, and futurist Buckminster Fuller once defined the Dymaxion principle as “constructing ever more with ever less weight, time, and ergs per each given level of functional performance.”
Carl Pruscha, an Austrian architect who mainly dedicated his professional career to investigate and work closely in the field of regional architecture in the eastern world, a territory that was being overlooked at a time when the modern movement in architecture and in the rest of the world was booming. Through an overview of his life, we will highlight some of his most relevant works in Nepal and Sri Lanka and understand how Pruscha managed to stamp his unique visions of architecture and cities into his built projects.
Around the world, a new generation of architects are challenging “business-as-usual” and bringing change to populations who had formerly no access to their professional services. This article is the first in a series to introduce this new practice that brings transactional client relations into more profound, trust-based collaborations. We call it Do-It-Together architecture.