Vernacular architecture

Vernacular architecture is architecture characterised by the use of local materials and knowledge, usually without the supervision of professional architects. Vernacular architecture represents the majority of buildings and settlements created in pre-industrial societies and includes a very wide range of buildings, building traditions, and methods of construction. Vernacular buildings are typically simple and practical, whether residential houses or built for other purposes.

Although it encompassed 95% of the world’s built environment in 1969, vernacular architecture tends to be overlooked in traditional histories of design. It is not one specific style, so it cannot be distilled into a series of easy-to-digest patterns, materials, or elements. Because of the usage of traditional building methods and local builders, vernacular buildings are considered part of a regional culture.

Vernacular architecture can be contrasted against elite or polite architecture, which is characterized by stylistic elements of design intentionally incorporated for aesthetic purposes which go beyond a building’s functional requirements. This article also covers the term traditional architecture, which exists somewhere between the two extremes yet still is based upon authentic themes.

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