Like all forms of life and architecture, language is all about making connections and amplifying people’s lives. And local architecture helps in creating a channel for defining cultural and traditional expressions of natives around the world. Language is also bestowed to each person as a medium for developing one’s vague idea into a gleaming rendered outlook, similar to the evolution in the art of doodling ideas to the well-defined drafting of structures. Likewise, language extends its beautiful arms to our people to decipher the various manifolds of local architecture and influences each soul in its unique interpretations.

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An architect deciphering a design_©lifeofanarchitect.com

An Essence of Language

Communication is a core element in any community, and language is an essential factor in it. Over time as language develops, different communities share their collective understanding in the form of sounds. Each language shared by a group of individuals helps in forming a new culture. When a commonplace is found after overcoming their language barrier, a new reality emerges. People from varied communities and cultures start to get new ideas that transform into distinguishable features in their society. It can be said that the local architecture styles found in different parts of the world are derived from the shared ideas of people. These get further filtered depending on other criteria such as climatic conditions, geological terrain, locally available materials, artisan’s skill-set, and so on.

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Language Tree_©greenheart.org

Words between Spaces

Form follows function,” the famous words said by Architect Louis Sullivan emphasize one of the basic ideas on which a building takes shape. In another context, language forms the foundation for every syllable and word to stand upon to make a meaningful sentence. A space transformed by local architecture holds a place close to a person’s heart as it invokes a personal voicing to one’s mind based on its cultural and ancestral values. Each voice commuting in our heads as words changes the perception of the local architecture imparted to each design and gifts a new meaning to that space. What each person takes away depends upon an individual’s direction of orientation.

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Artwork named ‘Group of spiral men thinking’_©Smokedsalmon via Shutterstock

Language of Aesthetics

A design provides a solution in the allocation of space that’s required for the people. Calculating the footage of these spaces is an easy task until the aesthetic factors join the equation. Every local architecture has its own defined elements that play a crucial role in its design language. To assist this process, the architects and designers implemented terminologies to reduce complex ideas to generalized components. This vocabulary helped the project team members get a better understanding and develop more unique solutions for the design. Moreover, this helped the vast community of people define the design aspects of their local architecture as an architectural language.

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Elevation of Ionic and Doric order of Greek Architecture_©employees.oneonta.edu

Two Sides of a Coin

Mies Van Der Rohe explained architecture as a language by saying, “Architecture is a language, and I think you have to have a grammar in order to have a language. If you are good at that, you speak a wonderful prose, if you are really good, you can be a poet”. Similarly, local architecture and language go hand-in-hand. Several factors weighed in the formation of these two, one of them being the circumstances or situations faced by society. For example, France, known for its weather and nature, has a soft and flowy accent. Whereas Germany has endured many civil and world wars, resulting in a deep and hollow voice. The same situation applies to local architecture as well. The Gothic style of architecture in France is vibrant and bright, while the local architecture style in Germany is dominant and rigid.

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French Gothic Architecture_©french moments
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Picture depicting architecture style in Germany_©discovergermany

Local Architecture in the Modern World

The progression of architecture in the present day continues to be shaped by western philosophy. Size, technological advancements, material selection, and engineering innovation remain the critical factors on which a building gets judged. But as we move forward, the issues such as climate change, societal and political instability emerge in our built environment. To address these issues, architects and designers can adopt numerous construction methods or ideologies from the advancements we have made in the technological sector. However, most of these professionals turn to their traditional methods of local architecture to implement their ideologies and resolve the issues at hand. Many practices spark new ways of thinking among us and contribute to conversion in the mindset of the discipline as a whole.

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Family home in Sao Paulo by Campana Brothers Studio_©Leonardo Finotti
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SFER IK Museion by Roth Architecture_©Fernando Artigas

Leaving behind a Trace for the Future

Architectural heritage is one of the surviving portals that open a path to every community’s ancestral lineage and traditional beliefs. Unless there is an essential change in the social or economic power within a place, the local architecture stays unaffected for many years. The local artisans used typical construction materials available in the region for their architecture. Hence, kindred buildings are seen in places with similar regional expressions and geological conditions. The design elements of each native site were not built to leave a trace behind for its future generation. Instead, it’s developed for the community of people living in those times. 

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Minangkabau Architecture, West Sumatra, Indonesia_©Rodney Re
Stilt Houses in Cempa, Indonesia_©Howcheng

The need to restore and preserve the local architectural style in different parts of the world is necessary for future generations. With the advancement in technology, the knowledge imparted from local architecture can be shared amongst people worldwide, with language as its ground channel. A language goes deep into the roots of emotions within a person and builds a sense of trust. Similarly, language can influence local architecture by being its mediator and prolong its life for the coming generations.  

Reference :

 Aesthetic Community, W., 2021. Understanding the Language and Elements of Design | WBDG – Whole Building Design Guide. [online] Wbdg.org. Available at: <https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/aesthetics/understanding-language-elements-design> [Accessed 21 July 2021].

Ktb.gov.tr. 2021. Folk Architecture. [online] Available at: <https://www.ktb.gov.tr/EN-98763/folk-architecture.html> [Accessed 21 July 2021].

Shop, g., 2021. Local Architecture in a Globalized World. [online] gestalten US Shop. Available at: <https://us.gestalten.com/blogs/journal/local-architecture-in-a-globalized-world> [Accessed 21 July 2021].

Club, G., 2021. Language: The Essence of Culture | Greenheart International. [online] Greenheart.org. Available at: <https://greenheart.org/blog/greenheart-international/language-the-essence-of-culture/> [Accessed 21 July 2021].

Author

Milan Denny is an architecture student who has just begun to explore his way into architectural journalism. He is genuinely passionate about architecture and technology and constantly seeks new experiences to widen his knowledge to blend them. Tea is the shortcut key to his heaven.

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