From Chettinad Architecture to Maori, Vernacular Architecture has seen many traditional architectural styles over the years. An architectural style would change over time but the traditional architectural style of a place cannot be buried since it is the physical manifestation of the conscious assimilation of an older truth.

Tradition is the adhesive of the cultural fabric of an ethnic group since it preserves the integrity and trust among the people’s beliefs transcending across generations. Hence no external forces could weather off traditions in culture; it is continuous and canonical. Similarly, an architectural style would change over time but the traditional architectural style of a place cannot be buried since it is the physical manifestation of the conscious assimilation of an older truth.

1. Chettinad Architecture- Tamil Nadu India

Chettinad architecture manifests the prosperity of the Nattukottai Chettiars, the salt, and gem merchants of the place. The indigenous materials and architectural elements include red soil baked bricks, locally manufactured athangudi tiles, egg white, Chettinad plaster, stucco, etc. With terraced roofscape, elegant arches, wooden columns, concrete figures of deities, richly crafted balustrades, cornices, parapets, and wooden carvings the mansions have characteristic thinnai (verandah) and elongated courtyards.

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2. Newari Architecture – Kathmandu Nepal.

Newars are the oldest ethnic group of Kathmandu valley whose traditional houses have an odd number of storeys vertically organized. Upper floors are built of timber and lower ones out of sun-dried bricks to withstand the cold climate and to reduce the load. They have 30degree sloped gable roofs covered with Jhingat tiles tied to the walls using wedges for earthquake resistance.

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3. Minangkabau Architecture – Western Sumatra Indonesia

The Minangkabau group of Sumatra possess a dynamic ethnic culture whose traditional houses are called Rumah Gadang which has enormous concave-shaped roofs that resemble buffalo horns. The equally high floors represent the equity of status among the members. Renewable or farmable building materials are used for construction such as bamboo, palm tree, sugar palm fiber, wood, etc. 

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4. Dzong Architecture- Bhutan

Dzongs are fortress structures built on hilltops accommodating a monastic body and center for civil administration in Bhutan. Enclosing a courtyard Dzongs have heavy load-bearing tapered stone walls and timber or mud upper floors topped with shallow sloped roofs. Dzongs have a vertical emphasis in its outer form whose white walls are decorated with embellished wooden windows and cornice details.

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5. Shinto Architecture – Japan

Shinto shrines are permanent Buddhist shrines of Japan built completely with Hinoki Cypress timber and bamboo frameworks without any nail or glue which are rebuilt every twenty years by the process called Shikinen Shingu. These have characteristic hip roofs with upturned gables and forked finials called Chigi ornamented with Katsougi. Most of the shrines are painted bright red and embellished with streamers, lanterns, and animal statues. 

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6. Malian Architecture- West Africa

The indigenous architecture of Mali is composed of mud and sun-dried straw. The mosques built reconstructed every year as a celebration has an attractive feature of the style is the smooth mud-plastered surface pierced and poked out with wooden nails. These are used as ladders by masons during the reconstruction ceremony. These have sharp and pointed spires on top. 

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7. Nubian Architecture- Egypt

The Nubian houses are characterized by modest rooms with a central courtyard for climatic and cultural responses. These are built with mud and gravel and roofed with timberless vaults made of earth bricks and mortar. The facades are decorated with Nubian folklore elements such as mirrors, dried crocodiles, cow heads, adobe brick filigree, and geometric images in the mud. 

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8. Moroccan Architecture

The tradition of Morocco is deeply influenced by Isam and hence buildings are adorned with geometric patterns, Quranic verses, and colorful mosaics. The Palaces consist of pavilions arranged around a series of courtyards and riads into which all the rooms and windows open. The walls are made of marble and stucco and floors are tiled with Zellig.

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9. Half Timbered Houses of France

Half-timbered houses were structures that employed timber as the framework and infills such as cob, stone, or bricks in between. The ground floor is made of stone as the base to protect the wood from potential fires and humidity. The studs, braces, and cross beams besides structural elements serve as decorative facade features.

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10. Cave Houses of Santorini- Greece

The cave houses with whitewashed walls and contrasting blue domes are defined by simplicity, austerity, and adaptability and are called yposkafo. These are inhabited by poor residents who dig them entirely into the volcanic rock with additions constructed as superstructures.  Cave houses have long spatial planning with narrow windows and facades.

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White and blue color combination_©pinterest

11. Canal Houses of Amsterdam – Netherlands

The canal houses are slim, high, and deep townhouses painted with dark colors overlooking the canal forming the iconic feature of the urban fabric. These accommodate commercial and residential activities that are accessed by stairs due to the threat of flood. These have sloping roofs that terminate with the Flemish or triangular gables with pediments. 

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12. Stave Churches of Norway

Stave churches of Norway combine Christianity, Nordic designs, and Viking motifs in its architecture. These austere Churches are exceptional craft out of staves or wooden posts built without the aid of any nail or glue. This wooden prowess is made distinctive by adding Christian iconography and pagan designs.

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13. Traditional Bermuda houses

Bermuda is filled with modest houses whose pastel-colored walls are aperture with small windows shaded by wooden blinds.  These have a distinctive limestone roof with Stuart or triangular gable ends. Roofs are grooved to filter and purify rainwater. Massive chimneys are typical features of Bermuda houses.

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14. Maori Architecture – New Zealand

The Maorians are indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand whose meeting houses are called Wharenui. Its architectural features including the carved figures, front barge boards, ridge poles, and rafters are symbolic of the structure of the human body, representing any of their ancestors. The carvings and panels of the house are based on the Maori legends Whakapapa Genealogy of the tribe.

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15. Spire type Wooden Churches of Russia

The spire type wooden churches in Russia are considered by the locals as the eighth wonder that ranges up to 37m high nailless churches. The spires are topped with an onion-shaped cupola. The configurations include the octagon quadrangle and cube-type churches. 

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A student architect who is deeply interested in architectural journalism, research and education. She is a classical dancer along with a profound passion for music and literature. This ardent reader firmly believes in ones karma and strives to forge a self identity in her mastering domains.