Category Archives: vernacular architecture

Does New Orleans Have an Identity Crisis?

And if so, how many other cities do as well? I spent five weeks in New Orleans in May/June of this year…it is a truly fascinating city, a completely unique place, yet for the most part it denies the fact that it is a delta city. With large tracts of the city below sea level, it would seem reasonable to expect water to be an omnipresent characteristic. But the built environment of New Orleans denies water, walls it off, instead of embracing it.

There’s a line from Jurassic Park that I’ve quoted a bazillion times: “[The scientists] were so concerned with whether they could, they never stopped to consider whether they should.” Wherever technology allows one to ignore nature, this seems to be too often what happens. Modern New Orleans was built wrongly (where it is built wrongly) because it could be. Continue reading

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The City of the Future?

We humans love to plot our existence on time lines. Make the world linear. Everything has a beginning, a middle, an end. The universe in vectors. But how often does reality comply? It seems to me that no geometric figure can accurately represent the dynamism of civilization. Sometimes a vector may well be appropriate. Other times, a triangle or a step pyramid. The closest model to my mind, however, is a helix, or rather multiple helices. Some are bent, some wrap around others, some are vertical, some aren’t. All, however, are roughly orbital. A new development (such as the automobile) creates a new ring, the course of action spurred on by that development plays out, and eventually things come back around to a new approximation of where they began.
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A Question of Nomenclature: What is a Neighborhood?

What, exactly, is a neighborhood? People on all sides of the urban conversation talk about neighborhoods, trotting them out to support everything from transit oriented development to the suburban status quo, from Smart Growth to no growth. Formal definitions vary, but few include criteria beyond a set of distinctive characteristics shared by a contiguous geographic area inhabited by people who behave neighborly. Which, despite its vagueness, sounds sensible enough. Imprecise, but sensible. And yet, when I think about the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, or spent time in, few of them fit even this ambiguous definition.
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Interview: Traditional Home Builder Devin P. Rutkowski

The retention of vernacular architectural practices maintains a place’s connection to its past. It also informs the direction it charts into the future. I’m currently living in a small town in Florida—Sarasota—that has had its share of troubles during a growth process that has seen disparate vernacular styles such as Florida Cracker and the Sarasota School emerge, prosper, decline, and slowly reemerge. A new crop of craftsmen/builders are reviving traditional design, including Devin P. Rutkowski, founder and president of Bungalow Builders, LLC.
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Posted in architecture, Culture, History, Interview, Josh Grigsby, Local Inspiration, Placemaking, Sarasota, urban design, urban planning, vernacular architecture, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tibetan Traditional Architecture: The Vernacular Under Fire

Tibet has produced one of the world’s most unique and easily-recognizable forms of architecture. Nevertheless, systematic study of Tibetan architecture is still a comparatively unexplored field. Tibetan construction activities can be traced back over 1300 years, when the first Buddhist temples were built in central Tibet. One of these, the Lhasa Jokhang, still exists and yields important information about the origins and early development of Tibetan architecture (see architectural history of the Lhasa Jokhang).
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