architecture
Jun 152 min read

7 Lessons that we can learn from Vernacular Architecture!

written by

Team Kaarwan

Vernacular Architecture is known for its use of local materials and knowledge of traditional techniques without any modern technology. The term Vernacular Architecture means, ‘domestic, native, indigenous'. Many tribal settlements and traditional buildings represent vernacular architecture, for eg. Wada Housing in Maharashtra, Bhonga Housing in Gujarat, Toda Tribal Hut in Nilgiri Mountains, etc. This type of architecture is functional, informal, and designed mostly with locally available resources.

Today, as the demand for sustainable architecture increases many architects and designers are investing their time and resources to decode vernacular architecture around the world, so as to merge traditional outlooks with modern techniques! 

Here are a few things we can learn from vernacular architecture:

1. Co-Existence

Today, cities are full of landmarks rather than co-existing urban forms. While traditional architecture was harmonious with surroundings, climate, geography, landscape, and human psychology while successfully coexisting, treating architecture as a holistic natural living element.

Image source: Freepik

2. Local Materials

The vernacular architecture was responsive to locally available materials, which were energy efficient, affordable, easily available, and needed less labor. The construction materials used today consume energy and contribute majorly to the world’s greenhouse emissions. 

Image source: My Modern Met

3. Construction Techniques

Traditional architecture has proved to be more durable as compared to modern structures. Using local materials permitted efficiency, recyclability, and biodegradability. The construction techniques changed dynamically, as a result, to create the best suitable structure according to context.

Image source: Arch Daily

4. Community

Homes were built according to regional possibilities, material availability, topography, and climate. Traditional buildings rich in culture lost their identity due to the influence of Western culture which led to buildings that are internationally acceptable and use similar materials.

Image source: Auroville

5. Climate Responsiveness

Buildings require year-round HVAC systems contrary to natural cooling options used by vernacular buildings which consumed less energy. These buildings prove to be inefficient, where glass exterior traps the sun’s rays during summer and hemorrhages heat throughout the winter.

Image source: Arch Daily

6. Contextual Approach

A building’s fundamental purpose is to provide a comfortable living environment, protected from the extremes of climate, as well as respond to the site, setting, and context. The construction of each vernacular style differs according to the context of the site.

Source: archisoup


7. Incremental Growth

Structures should be capable of growing according to the changing needs of the inhabitants. Vernacular architecture had the potential to accommodate growth in its spatial layout. For, example the Malay House, Bumbung Panjang, could easily allow an addition to the house on the roof.

Source: ResearchGate

To conclude, Vernacular architecture is a traditional or indigenous style or technique that is designed and built using local materials and resources and adapted to the local culture and climate. The term is used to describe designs that have been built/constructed over time by local people, often without the use of professional architects, designers, or engineers; and we have a lot to learn from it to guide the future of the AEC industry in the right direction!


Team Kaarwan

Team Kaarwan

Since we graduated from IIT Roorkee, we have been on a mission to democratize education through affordable online and offline workshops on industry-relevant skills, that help students gain better employability across the Indian subcontinent!