Earthy tones, from those used in traditional vernacular constructions to contemporary interior design trends, are instrumental in crafting inviting, organic, and harmonious environments. These tones encompass a spectrum of shades reminiscent of natural elements such as earth, clay, sand, and stone, fostering a deep connection with nature. They are readily available in various construction materials, paints, and coatings, allowing for captivating texture combinations. In the following section, you'll find inspiring projects that exemplify the potential of these color palettes.
Vernacular Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
In a time marked by environmental challenges and a growing demand for authenticity and cultural diversity, architects are increasingly turning to indigenous knowledge systems not only as sources of inspiration, but as viable solutions to adapt and respond to local and global challenges. As traditional custodians of the land, indigenous communities posses a profound understanding of their ecosystems, locally-available materials, cultural norms and social constrains. This knowledge holds insights valuable for shaping contemporary architecture, helping it adapt to both the people and their environments.
Vernacular and indigenous practices are emerging as a foundation for architectural reimagining, informing spatial lays, the choice of materials and building techniques while also allowing for the integration of innovation and contemporary expression. This careful blend of tradition and modernity can have a significant impact in terms of sustainability, as architects who adopt the indigenous approach to harnessing available resources can not only create structures rooted in their context, but also minimize the ecological impact of the construction. Additionally, collaborating directly with indigenous communities leads to projects that prioritize community participation, cultural sensitivity and sustainable development.
In the face of a climate emergency, various fields are under pressure to reformulate their operations and actions, and architecture is no exception. After all, the built environment and the construction industry are responsible for a considerable percentage of carbon gas emissions into the atmosphere. Rethinking and restructuring the construction chain - from design to execution - is the order of the day for construction professionals.
India recently overtook its sub-continental neighbor, China, to become the most populous country in the world with a demography of over 1.4286 billion people. As data from the United Nations also estimates an annual population growth rate of 0.7%, the country’s built environment is set to interact with a new discourse of demography and present its own perspective on how to build for billions. It is set to engage with new challenges of infrastructure, transportation, and adequate housing, which on the surface will force cities to constantly expand as a response to these dynamic needs. However, a critical look at the population distribution within the country reveals that the majority of Indians still live in rural areas as it caters to 65% of the population despite increasing rural-urban migration. This suggests a nudge in a different direction. One where the design and development of the rural areas take precedence over the cities. One that explores architecture in rural areas, its relationship with the cities, and its future as a primary framework to house the exploding population.
In the south of Burkina Faso, sharing borders with the northern environs of Ghana is Tiébélé; a small village exhibiting fractal patterns of circular and rectangular buildings, housing one of the oldest ethnic groups in West Africa; the Kassena tribe. With vernacular houses dating back to the 15th century, the village’s buildings strike a distinctive character through its symbol-laden painted walls. It is an architecture of wall decoration where the community uses their building envelope as a canvas for geometric shapes and symbols of local folklore, expressing the culture’s history and unique heritage. This architecture is the product of a unique form of communal collaboration, where all men and women in the community are tasked with contributing to the construction and finishing of any new house. This practice serves as a transmission point for Kassena culture across generations.
"Habitat: Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Climate" Offers Strategies and Instruments for a Sustainable Transition
As the challenges posed by climate change increase in number and intensity, it also heightens the need to find sustainable building practices that connect to ecosystems and livelihoods rather than harm them. While often overlooked in the search for innovation, vernacular architecture can offer answers to contemporary issues. This type of architecture not only relies on readily available locally sourced materials but also on indigenous knowledge of local conditions like sun orientation, wind patterns, ventilation needs, and the behavior of materials in time. Dr. Sandra Piesik, director and architect of 3 ideas, and founder of HABITAT Coalition, explores this potential in her newest book, 'Habitat: Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Climate.'
Contemporary architecture's approach to space is fairly linear: enveloping a specified volume within some form of material construct. But if we take a look at humanity's first intentional dwellings, it becomes clear that they were much less premeditated.
Rather than manmade areas to be furnished with pride, our earliest homes were naturally occurring cave lairs that offered hunter-gatherers temporary protection from the elements and potential predators. It wasn't until the appearance of agriculture that our ancestors took permanent, built residences. To this day, troglodytism — or cave living — continues to be connected to ideas of societal disassociation and a hermetic desire to exist outside of orthodox architectural norms. And yet, from Northern China to Western France and Central Turkey, hundreds of millions of people still choose to spend their lives at least partially underground.
Climate issues have been the main topic of discussions about the future of cities, but they are certainly not new. The warning about human irreversibility on the planet has been part of scientific discourse since the 1980s. Faced with increasingly frequent environmental urgencies, Donna Haraway, in her book Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, suggests a change in attitude on the part of humans to ensure not only partial environmental recovery but the species' survival.
Atelier Masōmī Designs the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development in Liberia
Atelier Masōmī has just revealed its design for The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center). President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf chose an all-female team to work on the project with lead architect Mariam Issoufou Kamara of Atelier Masōmī, exhibition's architect Sumayya Vally of Counterspace, and the local architect Liberian architect Karen Richards Barnes. The EJS Center, located in Liberia’s capital Monrovia, will provide digital access to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s personal and professional archives.
The Architecture in Development Global Challenge has just announced the finalists for the 2022 edition of the competition. Highlighting and celebrating the ongoing efforts of self-built community-led initiatives worldwide, the Global Challenge offers a platform for those initiatives while connecting partners and collaborators globally.
From 19 applications received, on February 16, 2023, the global challenge jury, composed of many architects, designers, and thinkers worldwide, including Johann Baar (The Hilti Foundation), David Barragan (Al Borde Arquitectos), David Basulto (ArchDaily), Ole Bouman (DesignSociety), David Cole (Building Trust International), Kira Intrator (Aga Khan Development Network), Irene Plan-chuelo Gómez (TECHO Internacional), Doina Petrescu (University of Sheffield), Rob Breed and Changfang Luo (Architecture-in-Development), selected nine finalists.
Whenever light falls on a surface there will be a shadow, no matter how insignificant its focus is. The outline will hardly be visible, but other shapes will come to the fore in this play of light and dark. In the case of being projected by solar dance, a latent dynamic is added to the shadows that can be used to intensify everyday phenomena, breaking the monotony of space. Orthogonal openings in a long corridor or woven pieces in a courtyard are examples of constructive elements that create patches of light and shadow, bringing in addition to aesthetic delight and thermal comfort to its users. In this way, it becomes evident that these intangible elements are essential parts of an environment that, long before Louis Kahn declared the power of shadows, was already being manipulated.
The Taiwan Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale Highlights the Intelligence Embedded in Surrounding Landscapes
The 18th annual Architecture Exhibition La Biennale Di Venezia is taking place from May to November under the theme of “The Laboratory of the Future”. This year, the Taiwanese Pavilion, organized by the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, announced that it will explore the intelligence embedded in surrounding landscapes. “Diachronic Apparatuses of Taiwan” displays how locals throughout Taiwanese history have used their intuition to shape their environment. Furthermore, the project also opens a dialogue about artificial and natural terrain to rediscover what we may learn from nature.
Perkins & Will has just begun construction on the Gateway Project for the University of British Columbia. The project will serve as the primary entrance point to the campus, as well as the new hub for the Nursing, Kinesiology, Language Science, and the university's health clinics. This project is inspired by the surrounding landscape and is informed by the Musqueam people, who have been occupying these territories for generations.
Archaeological endeavors aimed at exploring the civilizations of the past have revealed a commonality across the world. A form of architecture developed independently on every continent. Evidence shows that Neolithic communities used fertile soils and alluvial clay to construct humble abodes, creating humankind’s first durable and solid building material. Earth architecture was born at a very early age in human history. The techniques soon suffered a gradual decline as lifestyles changed, cities grew, and industrialized materials flourished. Does earth architecture have a place in the 21st-century world?