Humanistic Vernacular Architecture
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Humanistic Vernacular Architecture

Vernacular architecture evokes responses to the essence of particular places, cultures and climates within a modern context as well as exhibits harmony between people, artefacts and nature.

The Trulli houses (Trullo, singular) of Puglia, Italy.

Vernacular buildings exhibit an extreme responsibility toward authenticity in architecture which can be the basis for today’s aspiration of an architecture rooted in local heritage as well as for continuity into the future. Vernacular architecture evokes responses to the essence of particular places, cultures and climates within a modern context as well as exhibits harmony between people, artefacts and nature.The 1960s witnessed a stream of condemning modernism and the International Style by emphasising the importance of vernacular architecture. Bernard Rudofsky’s Architecture without Architects (1964) appeared to break down the narrow concepts of the art of building by introducing the vernacular architecture of different parts of the world. Rudofsky believes that the “vernacular is much more than a style; it is a code of good manners that has no parallel in the urban world” (Rudofsky, 1977, p. 235). During the post-modern era, neo-vernacular style also represented the architect’s reaction against modern architecture and provided “an acceptable model for design… as long as it is underplayed and unselfconscious” (Jencks, 1982, p. 153).

Traditional mud brick village at the top of the Bandiagara escarpment, Sanga, Mali.


Undoubtedly, the outstanding architectural character and the positive effect of the images of vernacular architecture do not only come from its reliance upon traditional prototypes but also from their interesting exteriors. The marvellous quality of the architecture of the past was derived, not from stylistic elements, but from the superiority of its essential features, their proportional arrangement and their basic ideas. Vernacular buildings maintained a coherence and unity between inhabited space, construction and landscape. Therefore, the aesthetic quality of these buildings come from the harmony between its components as well as the juxtaposition of their elements, which provide variety and visual interest through change in their size and scale. There is no doubt that the builders of these vernacular buildings expressed the idea of perceiving a building as an entity as well as articulating the function and identity of each member of the building.

Santorini Village, Greece (

Undoubtedly, the simple compositional technique and the essence of a tradition epitomise the strength and endurance of the vernacular, which has become a main theme in the 20th century and early 21th century mainstream discourse. One can touch on this subject in the study of regional architecture and contexuality. However, architects and planners should consider the value and importance of vernacular architecture and respond to the human needs and requirements in their designs. This attitude towards creating humanistic architecture, which respond to the public concerns and interests should be strengthened in order to maintain a balance in a more advanced and technological world.


Rudofsky, Bernard, The Prodigious Builders. London, 1977.

Jencks, Charles, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture. London, 1977.

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Comments (7)
Ranked #12 in Architecture

I love those buildings in Puglia, they are in a class of their own.

Ranked #1 in Architecture

Excellent work.

Yes, excellent

Ranked #11 in Architecture

As I was researching for vernacular pics, the was beneath so I click it and there it goes, I really miss this informative, educational article from your expertise Sir Abdel.

Thank you very much Sir. I am really pleased that you liked it. much appreciated

Nice work Abdel-moniem!

Thank for your kind comment. appreciate