Vernacular Architecture


I guess vernacular architecture is really harking to a time when there were no architects, things were built with nature, focusing on tradition and knowledge passed down through generations. Think of those homes on stilts which are in swampy areas, or those built into the rock of remote windy areas . Things like bamboo are very abundant materials, as well as being cheap and good to work with, so when we talk about vernacular architecture, we are talking about materials such as this. 

vernacular architecture examples

To think of this,. It is pretty simple. Think of traditional buildings. From Skara brae in Scotland, to places in Sudan where they made things from clay. Clay has a very good way of regulating temperature in hot places. 

These are examples of vernacular architecture. In addition to this you may have heard of cob building.

What is Cob?

Cob is a building material that is made from subsoil, water and a natural material (usually straw) . it is a very versatile building material, and you will find it used around the world. 

The first recorded use of this is in 8000bc Jericho. But was probably used a lot before that too. 

Energy efficient

Cob buildings are energy efficient because they act as a thermal store. They take a long time to heat up and are cool in the baking heat of the day, but they are warm in the night because they slowly let the heat radiate through. 

In addition to  this there are also no bad chemicals used in this process, so if you are prone to allergies and cannot breathe in certain situations, it would be great to have a cob home. 

types of vernacular architecture

As we know we have cob homes, and stone homes as would be seen in ireland, scotland and england. But what else? What other types are there? 

Well really vernacular architecture is quite difficult to define because there are so many types

  • Timber - Obviously this depends on region and quality of the building materials, some of the earliest buildings that are still standing in the uk today are timber framed. It is a time tested building materialism that is very strong. 

From the 18th century onwards, it was used for the poorest people only. And it was losing favor in the 17th century. So it is sometimes useful to know these things when trying to date a home. 

  • Stone -  of course stone has been used for centuries as a building material.and there is a difference in stone varying where you go in the country, so things will look different.
  • Brick - brick was used in the 16th century (medieval period). Brick could be moulded into shapes and components, so it advanced masonry and helped it be more complex and decorative. 
  • Clay

modern vernacular architecture

Is there such a thing as modern vernacular architecture ? Well the answer is yes. Vernacular just alludes to the fact it is relevant to location and climate, so let us explore this a bit more. 

wood vernacular architecture
wood vernacular architecture

Because of all of the materials we have today modern vernacular homes incorporate energy efficiency and a little more, and more functional spaces. Less wasted space that will be needed to heat. In addition to this it also includes low carbon materials. 


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