As unusual as it sounds, ‘architecture’ existed way before the ‘architect’ did. There was a time when man was forced to provide himself with shelter, which was climate-responsive as well an effective shield from elements, all using the limited resources he had access to. Something quite unimaginable in today’s day, isn’t it? Over time, this simple yet efficient form of construction started being replaced with new experimental and avant-garde architectural values.
The benefits of vernacular architecture, however, were so immense, that it has found its way into contemporary architecture today, giving birth to a new style now known as the ‘Contemporary-Vernacular’ architecture style.
Below mentioned, are 15 conceptual contemporary vernacular projects around the world:
1. Nurnberg House, Ecuador
The Nurnberg house in Ecuador is located between the Daule valley and river, and though its main intension is to portray vernacular characteristics, it also allows clear visual and perceptive communication with nature. The roof system, as a reinterpretation of the vernacular pitch roof, overhangs on one side above the other, allowing easy wind flow.
2. Cuckoo House, Vietnam
This breezy brick wrapped building in Vietnam gets its name because it mimics a cuckoo clock. The design uses locally found clay bricks to tie the structure into the vernacular, while the semi-circular punctures give the space a contemporary edge. Natural ventilation, semi-open courtyards, and gusty passages help beat the heat all year round.
3. Mediterranean buildings
One of the most distinct elements of Mediterranean buildings is the use of clay tiles on the roof. These tiles, which are originally manufactured from terracotta and hail from ancient Greece over 4000 years ago, are still used frequently as they help keep out rain and shield the building from the sun.
4. Wadden Sea Centre, Denmark
It’s extremely sleek, long profile that almost merges into the sea’s horizon gives the Wadden Sea Centre a minimalist and modern feel at first glance. Up close, however, with its thatched roof and thermowood façade, the perfect culmination of contemporary style and vernacular elements – all in harmony with the surrounding nature – is evident.
5. MuWeCo hotel, China
The vaulted roof of this resort is a striking element against the Lou Fu Shan mountain range, evoking the feeling of being nestled under a big tent rather than inside a building. Timber and cork planks as well as local river stones used in the construction of some parts of the building depicts an unambiguous relationship between the space and surrounding landscape.
6. Trulli, Southern Italy
Although they gravitate more towards vernacular style rather than contemporary, Italian Trulli drystone homes are nonetheless modern-looking architectural masterpieces. Its roofs are built with two layers, an inner skin of limestone voussoirs capped by a closing stone, and outer skin of slabs to shed the rain.
7. Mud homes, Saudi Arabia
Pictured below is the home of a resident of the Asir province of the Arabian Highlands. This particular house is a modern version of traditional Asir clay and silt homes with an inner courtyard. The clay walls rest on a stone layer, built-in layers, and allowing stone slabs to protrude. These slates help cascade the perennial rainfall away from the clay; how brilliant is it that they had a solution for every possible climatic situation!
8. Chaumiere, France
A chaumiere or a traditional French cottage has quite a distinctive style, owing to its unique thatched roof. The roof is topped with a clay bed where iris is planted; its roots in turn help mesh together reed ends in the thatch. The iris in colorful flowers, and the cottages against a vast meander, makes it look like a scene straight from a fairy tale.
9. Great Mosque, Mali
The Great Mosque in the small African adobe-built town of Djenne is the largest mud-brick building in the world. The mud used for the adobe bricks and plaster used throughout the city comes from the Niger river and is usually mixed with rice husks and fermented till it becomes tough and resistant to the rain.
10. Dzongs, Bhutan
Dzongs, or typical castle houses as shown below, dominate the Bhutanese valleys even today. They are built with stone curtain walls surrounding courtyards, whereas the internal structure comprises of stone and rammed earth. Its distinctive roof is constructed in hardwood and bamboo, intricately decorated at the eaves.
11. Bhunga, India
Bhunga or roundhouses are the typical houses of the Meghwals people in Hodka, Gujarat. Thick maati (clay) walls, that help keep the interiors cool are paired with thatched roofs. Its thoughtful circular design withstands severe winds and seismic activity prevalent in the region.
12. Caring Wood, UK
A country home in Kent, the Caring Wood embraces its context and its landscape while providing a sustainable and flexible design. Having combined the legacy of the English country house and fundamentals of the Kentish vernacular, the building uses materials like handmade peg tiles, local ragstone, chestnut cladding, and terracotta floor tiles.
13. Soori Bali, Indonesia
The Soori Bali of Indonesia is climatically and socially reactive to its location. The construction of the resort maintained the predominant use of locally sourced materials while integrating inimitable Balinese motifs and forms. The result is a pleasant balance between a contemporary form with a vernacular finishing.
14. Jianamani visitor center, Tibet
Constructed in 2013, this visitor center is a testament to how the Yushu community has been living for over 300 years. The center is built with local construction materials like rocks, by local masons. The railings and observation decks are made of wood and parts recycled from earthquake debris.
15. The Nest, Southern Africa
This house, secluded in the Namib Desert in Southern Africa is an organic, hand-crafted, and completely off the grid home exploring local materials and techniques. Incorporating the concept of biomimicry, the design is inspired by the nests of the sociable weaver birds that dot the desert landscape.