Vernacular: the language of everyday building

Vernacular: the language of everyday building

The term vernacular refers to the language or dialect of one’s native country, while its use in architecture is concerned with everyday, ordinary buildings rather than their monumental counterparts.



Vernacular describes a traditional language of building, usually of unknown authorship, constructed from local materials to suit their native setting, indigenous climate, and specific local needs. Being built from locally available materials, such as stone, clay, timber and thatch, vernacular buildings in the UK – l like those the world over- makes little reference to mainstream style or to any prevalent theories of architecture.

[…] the most important movement in architecture today is the revival of the vernacular and classical traditions and their reintegration into the mainstream of modern architecture in its fundamental aspect: the structure of communities, the building of towns. – Vincent Scully

Desert vernacular architecture // Natural Building Blog
Vernacular architecture of Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

‘Neo-vernacular’ emerged in the UK and Scandinavia in the 1950s especially in the ‘contextualism’ of Alvar Aalto and his respect of site context, memory, route, etc. It describes an architecture resulting from the subjection of the language of vernacular form to an architectural style or design theory. Meanwhile, ‘pseudo-vernacular’ is a pastiche architecture without integrity, and simply mimics and inflates the appearance of handmade traditional buildings.

Neo-Vernacular. Architecture that drew on brick, tile, and other traditional materials and even on vernacular forms in a general reaction against International Modernism in the 1960s and 1970s. It was called the Neo-Shingle style or the Shed Aesthetic in the USA. — Jencks (1988)

Vyborg Library by Alvar Aalto // Vyborg, Russia, 1927-35

Re-imagining Vernacular

This unique structure uses the barn typology traditionally to store farm equipment and perform as a workspace, while also functioning as an art studio and collectibles container.

Barndominium LoJo Architects

To set it apart from other surrounding barns, and reflect its unique program, a gable roof is inverted and also provides northern light conditions.


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