Vernacular Architecture is the style of architecture that takes into account the needs of the people, materials available locally, indigenous labor, and economic factors of the people in question. It, like every other field of architecture, evolutionized with time and need. This style is more particularly worked upon residences than other buildings and today it is found in rural areas rather than cities. When you think about it, vernacular architecture is the best form of architecture construction since it is extremely cost-effective by using materials that are available locally and labor too, and also takes into consideration all the needs of the building. 

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We have seen the types of vernacular architecture in South India previously. When coming to construction techniques that are used in Vernacular Architecture, we are truly at a loss of indigenous methods. But, we can categorize these buildings into three based on their sizes and completeness as kachcha, pakka, and semi-pucka.

KACHCHA HOUSES

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A Kachcha house is made of materials like mud, bamboo, thatch, and wood and is therefore a temporary structure. It would require continued maintenance and has practical limitations in the form of the structure based on the material.

Some general fabrication methods used in mud construction are cob, adobe, rammed earth, and wattle and daub.

1. COB

This is the simplest method of mud construction that was used in older periods of time. It involves mixing ingredients like mud, cow dung, hay, and lime. The concoction is then made into spherical shapes and then placed to make a wall. Any form can be given to these walls when following the cob method.

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2. ADOBE

This method is very similar to the previous one. The same concoction is made and this time, they are placed in block molds and are sun-dried. This is the beginning of brick masonry as well. These mud-bricks are then used in wall construction, the same mixture acts as plaster.

Construction techniques used in the vernacular architecture of South India - Sheet1
Adobe ©naturalbuildingblog.com

3. RAMMED EARTH

This is a slightly more advanced method of construction. It involves making a mixture with the sub-soil and then using a formwork to create the walls. It is very similar to reinforced cement concrete construction that we do today by pouring the cement into the steel formwork. The soil is compacted over a period of time before the formwork is removed.

Construction techniques used in the vernacular architecture of South India - Sheet2
Rammed Earth ©ecofriend.com

4. WATTLE AND DAUB

This method is primarily used in areas where bamboo is found in abundance. It involves the placement of bamboo in the middle followed by daubing the mud on either side.

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Construction techniques used in the vernacular architecture of South India - Sheet3
Wattle and Daub ©designingbuildings.co.uk

PAKKA HOUSES 

These houses are permanent structures made of durable materials like brick, RCC, or stone depending on the location and availability of materials for construction. Some of the vernacular structures in Karnataka are built out of stone like the weaver’s community with large fort-like entrances.

Here the construction technique is our modern-day brick masonry, where the burnt bricks are used to build a wall that is plastered with lime. RCC construction involves the usage of cement and formwork as mentioned above.

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The Chettinad houses use the above techniques for their house construction. Another important material used in the construction of these houses is timber. Timber can be crafted to any shape and can be used as roofs, doors, flooring, and even walls. 

Construction techniques used in the vernacular architecture of South India - Sheet4
Pakka Houses ©pukkabodrum.com

SEMI-PUCCA HOUSES

It is a combination of the first two kinds of houses. Architecture is evolutionary based on the requirements of people and economic conditions that can be supported by them at the hour of need.

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The pakka houses are a lot more embellished and decorated than the temporary ones and are usually belonging to the people high up in the economic hierarchy. The permanent houses are costlier to build and they last generations to come. The kachcha houses on the other hand are temporary mostly because of the profession of the people. Maybe, they require to travel from one location to another. While one reason for the temporary structure could be economic conditions another one could be the location. People living in coastal areas close to large water bodies cannot always live in that region due to natural conditions of high tide and the risks of tsunamis.

The high end of the construction is the palaces. These are usually heavy with decor and are lavishly incriminating the rich. Some of the palaces in Kerala like the Padhmanaban palace contain courtyard spaces to improve ventilation and lighting according to the climatic requirement of the place.

Every architecture is different and is appropriate to the requirements of the occupants, the climatic conditions, economic factors, and the profession of the family. 

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Hopefully, you found this article helpful!

Author

An undergrad student who dreams of building castles in the sky with her words. Yep! She is an aspiring architect and writer, living between the grand mosques of the gulf and the palatial indian palaces, currently, hankering for a peripatetic lifestyle all the while maintaining her non-existing social life!

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