Inhabit the world, vernacular architecture. 

The earth is the serving bearer, flourishing and prosperous, florid and fruitful. Endless wide fields of stone and water, giving place for growth to plants, animals and humans. Human beings living on the earth, brought to peace, building and cultivating the earth. Us mortals, we inhabit the world, we dwell and we live on the earth.  How we live in or inhabit the world goes back till before ancient times. So the story tells, after tohu vavohu man lived in paradise, in harmony with nature.

After the first agricultural revolution people had enough food to stay in one place for a longer time, long enough to build them a shelter, a home. These were simple huts from natural materials such as adobe, clay, stone, straw, wood, animal skin or a mixture of those. This is where vernacular architecture started, as shelter for wild animals and weather conditions around a fireplace for cooking and warmth.  Having enough food for a group of people, they got time to do other things than taking care of food. Trading, writing, money and cities developed, civilisation started. This civilisation started in several places at about the same time: in Mesopotamia, India, China, Egypt and with the Maya culture in Meso-America.

Cities grew in a natural way (along a river, around a holy place or temple) and there were actually two types of people: those who lived in or around a city/village and those who travelled around (nomads, traders, etc). This was the situation till right before the industrial revolution, when trains, cars and airplanes made traveling available for everyone.

Even before the industrial revolution there is a strong call for authenticity. Society or civilisation should be less appearences, show, extravagance and more simple, honest, real and transparent. One who had a large influence on that movement was Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778), who plead for going back to nature. (In French: retour à la nature). This in basic romantic thought had a large influence, not only on his contemporain (baroque) architecture, but also on modern architecture of the 20th and 21st century.

WSJperspschets1

As Frank Lloyd Wright puts it (1910): the true base of every study about architecture taken seriously still is the aboriginal, humble building, which is for architecture what folksongs are for music, fabels and fairy tales for literature. Lots of aboriginal architecture is earthly and natural. Their functions mostly refer to the inner life of humankind, true and honesty, intimate and connected to the context.

So in order to go back to the original idea of living in nature with architecture as shelter one might consider going forwards to an architecture which uses local and natural building materials and techniques, where the plan is functional (without need to look for symetry or other forced modes of esthetics)  and ornaments not part of the structure are left out, still creating a unity in form and enclosed space.  Contemporain architects working with vernacular architecture are for example Glenn Murcutt (Australia, picture below) or gunnar Daan (The Netherlands, picture above).

glenn murcutt

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