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Africa Vernacular Architecture intro

Documenting vernacular architecture for preservation.

Jon Twingi

on 21 April 2013

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Transcript of Africa Vernacular Architecture intro

Documentation for Preservation Creating a data base for the preservation of African Vernacular Architecture. Mission Statement I look forward to input... a link, a picture and comments. Genius Loci "The Spirit of a Place" The myth.... Vernacular architecture has a stigma which labels it as, poor, temporary, sub-standard, not correct and outdated. People build what they believe in Safari lodges are an exception that embraces the vernacular.... and are stunningly beautiful. Yes... they are built for tourism Yes.. they use some modern materials such as concrete and steel connections... but the majority are built using vernacular materials and techniques. The important point is that they are constructed correctly. Safari lodges in Africa It's ironic these structures are built for visitors on the premise that this is how Africa "should look". And the look is vernacular... which an important component of African vernacular is the concept of sustainability. Architecture that uses materials which are indigenous to an area and are also renewable. Sustainability Architecture defines a society... from the high rises in cities to the most basic shelter in remote villages. Architecture provides shelter. Knowledge of vernacular construction techniques is an art and is in danger of becoming lost as these techniques are abandoned. Once the knowledge is lost.... it is gone forever!! My goal is to document existing vernacular architecture. Before it disappears. There is information out there. All one has to do is research on the internet..... but... you might be surprised how little information is truly available. type in "vernacular architecture".. or "traditional architecture"... there are usually 3 categories of. 1. A web site that has pictures but little to no explanation. 2. A web site that is a thesis paper but contains no images. 3. A web site selling someone's research book. Goal: A data base of African Vernacular Architecture Which is: 1. Comprehensive 3. Available on the internet 2. Analyzed & Organized There are many factors which create and define a specific culture. It has been done: with my research for Zambian Vernacular Architecture Data Style Construction Decoration Influences Types Use of nature What type of materials are being used? What is the size (length/ width) of these materials? Construction materials include thatch, bricks, mud, poles, and other materials What is the shape of the main dwelling structure? Round, square, rectangular, L-plan or other? The overall size of the structure Is there a verandah attached... is it covered? There are other structures besides the main dwelling. There is a huge connection between the people and the land. How is the homestead laid out... between public and private spaces? How is nature itself used to define space? Are there any obvious influences from outside the vernacular culture? Any attempt to add beauty to a structure is considered decoration? Paintings are very common on the side of structures. Other countries
Missionaries Schools
Community buildings In a family's homestead, there are functional structures such as latrines or graineries as well as areas for outdoor cooking and social spaces. A village may also have: These catagories can be applied to every country. Universities with Schools of Architecture Professional Architecture groups Member of UNESCO NGO's Missionary groups Volunteer Organizations Peace Corps VSO Irish Aid An existing data base ... the collection ... the analysis ... the organization ... the presentation If one wants to research African Vernacular Architecture,,,,, Data must be "placed in the cloud" But... data needs to be collected The data needs to be analyzed The data needs to be organized Finally... the data must be presented Many daily functions occur outside, in the compound. Conclusion Not only is there a need to document and preserve African vernacular architecture but it must be promoted as well. What to collect and document: Vernacular architecture in many African countries has been disappearing over generations. Are the materials resourced locally? Is there any reason behind the decorations? But African vernacular architecture is both an art form and more importantly, a part of a country's culture. When people build what they believe in, they will not build what is decline and in threatened of being lost. Vernacular materials are sustainable and have great material properties. The problem is that vernacular is perceived as sub-standard. That is a myth that must be corrected. It is my belief that with social media both data and awareness can be obtained. A material's "carbon footprint" is small, does not have to be produced nor transported. Thatch Earth Bamboo Poles Nature African architecture is as diverse as the climate and topography The introduction of western materials and building techniques lead to a cultural shift in perceptions. To preserve and promote African vernacular architecture by collecting and analyzing information into a data base. Sport Language Food Art Music Celebrations Religion Architecture Clothing Social Mores Many people cannot afford to build lasting structures, but this doesn't mean that vernacular architecture does not work. I leave with my favorite Bemba saying... "Wende bwino mune"..... Travel well my friend For many generations it has come to be accepted that western building materials and techniques are superior to the traditional ones. Western construction became a social symbol, an indication of wealth and thus desired. VS www.zambiaarchitecture.com africanvernaculararchitecture@gmail.com An introduction
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