A proposal for the future of vernacular architecture studies

Davidson, James (2013) A proposal for the future of vernacular architecture studies. Open House International, 38 2: 57-65.

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Author Davidson, James
Title A proposal for the future of vernacular architecture studies
Journal name Open House International   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0168-2601
Publication date 2013-01-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 38
Issue 2
Start page 57
End page 65
Total pages 9
Place of publication Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, United Kindom
Publisher Open House International Association
Language eng
Abstract Given the broad scale and fundamental transformations occurring to both the natural environment and human condition in the present era, what does the future hold for vernacular architecture studies? In a world where Capital A (sometimes referred to as 'polite') architectural icons dominate our skylines and set the agenda for our educational institutions,is the study of vernacular architecture still relevant? What role could it possibly have in understanding and subsequently impacting on architectural education, theory and practice, and in turn, professional built environment design? Imagine for a minute, a world where there is no divide between the vernacular and the 'polite', where all built environments, past and present are open to formal research agendas whereby the inherent knowledge in their built historiesinform the professional design paradigm of the day -in all built settings, be they formal or informal, Western ornon-Western. In this paper, the author is concerned with keeping the flames of intellectual discontent burning in proposinga transformation and reversal of the fortunes of VAS within mainstream architectural history and theory.In a world where a social networking website can ignite a revolution, one can already see the depth of global transformationson the doorstep. No longer is there any excuse to continue intellectualizing global futures solely within aWestern (Euro-American) framework. In looking at the history of VAS, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate that theanswers for its future pathways lie in an understanding of the intellectual history underpinning its origins. As such, thepaper contends that the epistemological divide established in the 1920s by art historians, whereby the exclusion of socallednon-architect architectures from the mainstream canon of architectural history has resulted in an entire architecturalcorpus being ignored in formal educational institutions and architectural societies today. Due to this exclusion, the majority of mainstream architectural thinkers have resisted theorizing on the vernacular. In the post-colonial era of globalizationthe world has changed, and along with it, so have many of the original paradigms underpinning the epistemologiessetting vernacular environments apart. In exploring this subject, the paper firstly positions this dichotomy withinthe spectrum of Euro-American architectural history and theory discourse; secondly, draws together the work of scholarswho have at some point in the past called for the obsolescence of the term 'vernacular' and the erasure of categoricaldistinctions that impact on the formal study of what are perceived as non-architectural environments; and finally,sets out the form by which curricula for studies of world architecture could take.
Keyword Architecture
Cross cultural
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Architecture Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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