Mud huts, wooden houses, stone houses: the architecture of all the world is changing, evolving and adapting to the environment, climate and local materials. Great examples of sustainable construction, expressions of traditional cultures, arise from here.
“Learning from Vernacular” exhibition was staged at the Vitra Design Museum. It has been an opportunity to discover examples of traditional architecture: a contemporary design that hides new forms of construction, from South Africa, Egypt, China, to Malaysia up to Cameroon; wooden architecture, spectacular projects in bamboo up to structures that resemble tunnel and were made with Palm grass.
The exhibition presents the residential projects of the Auburn University of Rural Studio in Alabama, the collaboration between architects and craftsmen in India, the work of architect Carin Smuts in South African townships or the bamboo structures of the Colombian Simón Vélez. Films, photographs and plans demonstrate how the buildings were built and the everyday life of their inhabitants.
With its 40 models, the exhibition presents a veritable panorama of world architecture. And it opens the eyes of the public for the abundant variety of materials, shapes and construction techniques that exist outside of the commercial market and are handed down from generation to generation. In these cases, the social aspects of architectures are often just as important as aesthetics or the economy. Thanks to the numerous examples of renewable raw materials and energy-neutral solutions, it offers numerous opportunities for sustainable development of resources.
Learning from vernacular was made possible thanks to the complete collection of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). This collection includes more than 700 1:20 scale architectural models and many documents. The collection is part of a large archive dedicated to modern architecture, whose Director Pierre Frey is the curator of the exhibition.
One of the pioneers of sustainable and social construction practice is the architect Anna Heringer, that held a conference at Vitra Museum about projects in countries such as China, Morocco or Bangladesh, where she developed a unique approach to architectural design that closely involves the community and local materials.