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Contested Legacies: Vernacular Architecture Between Sustainability and the Exotic

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Neveen Hamza


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It is acknowledged that vernacular architecture was generally mastered by non-schooledarchitects. Vernacular architecture refers to an architectural construct builtbased on collective community responses to values and religious beliefs, localbuilding material and years of trial and error (Oliver 2006; Weber and Yannas 2014).Vernacular architecture reflects cultural expressions with its programme of spacesand urban configurations. Academic discourses stand at cross roads with practiceson the ground of conservation and people’s perceptions of the feasibility of living invernacular houses. Researchers and architects are often left wondering if they haveto mimic the building practices or take a distant view of learning and archiving?Reconciling to the fact that vernacular architecture’s aesthetics, form and land availabilitycan be financially prohibitive and instead of an ‘architecture for the poor’ asleading Egyptian architect Hassan Fathi called it, it turns into an architecture for thevery rich and singular buildings. How do we place a value on these buildings? Arethey an architectural archive of building grandiose palaces, quarters that used tohouse the elite? Many of these today converted to Eco lodges with a sustainablelabel and a sometimes prohibitive price tag for even a one-night accommodationexperience. Presented as environments where the contemporary occupants wouldexperience the excitement of being away from modern day technologies and sterileinteriors, and an ever-increasing demand for comfort. This chapter contests the ideathat the vernacular is to be mimicked and valorized. It seems the factors that lead toits definitions as ‘sustainably’ responsive to climate, local economics and occupants’needs are the exact factors that led to its demise, leaving us today with contestedsustainability ideas of vernacular architecture.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hamza N

Editor(s): Sayigh, A

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Sustainable Vernacular Architecture: How the Past Can Enrich the Future

Year: 2019

Pages: 7-21

Print publication date: 09/04/2019

Online publication date: 30/03/2019

Acceptance date: 06/03/2019

Series Title: Innovative Renewable Energy (INREE)

Publisher: Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Place Published: Berlin


DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-06185-2_2

Notes: 9783030061852 Ebook ISBN

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9783030061845