EjSBS - The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences

The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences

Online ISSN: 2301-2218
European Publisher

A Different Aspect of the Architectural Education


Vernacular materials and construction techniques are very important in architecture. However, information about vernacular architecture education is generally not given to the student in architectural education. Conservation of the vernacular texture in the rural cultural landscape is important issue in the last years. It has vernacular architectural property 90% of the world's structuring. It is a living area of 800 million people. However, vernacular architecture researches as important as urbanely and structuring researches. In addition, a questionnaire is developed to architectural students who from different countries and levels about willingness to learn vernacular architecture.

Keywords: Vernacular architecture, architectural departments, education


Vernacular architecture which became prominent in architectural texture in recent years and means something that is local to a region and vernacular, is one of the descriptive elements of cultural landscapes. The constructions built through natural materials in the region and construction techniques are discussed in this context (Bowyer 1980, Oliver 2003, Vellinga, Oliver, & Bridge, 2007).

The majority of architectural designs are cultural landscape areas containing delicate historical and vernacular buildings. The fact that vernacular settlements reflect the cultural value of the country and built according to bioclimatic characteristics make them even more important (Philokyprou, 2011). The need for training and skill acquisition of the students in the subjects such as construction practice, design as well as protection awareness about these areas, arises.

However vernacular architecture education requires a way leading to professionalization unlike the contemporary design education. Contemporary architecture education is relatively open to new developments. In the early 19th century, this system was partly a way to control entry to the emerging formal profession (Abbott, 1988). Architecture schools today have their origins in a series of institutions which still persist in the schools in the form of procedures and attitudes towards building and the building professions (Davis, 2006). The present system is an amalgam of these origins, not necessarily optimized for learning architecture in today’s World, and certainly not optimized to educate professionals to be helpful in the emergence of a healthy vernacular architecture (Boyer & Mitgang, 1996).

In this study, through the support of a questionnaire conducted with 150 final year architecture students via internet it will be investigated that how should the vernacular architecture education carried out with the emphasis on vernacular architecture and its historical development process.

Vernacular Architecture

International Association for the Study of Traditional Settlements (IASTE) and The Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) organized symposiums with respect to vernacular architecture in 1980 and Al Sayyad (2001) emphasized that in the recent years knowledge and skills on vernacular architecture are transferred as basic principle to contemporary studies.

The term “Vernacular” is derived from Latin origin “vernaculus” word and it is used in defining the special characteristics of a place. In the academic fields it is also used in a wider sense such as vernacular landscape, vernacular building. Al Sayyad (2001) stresses that cultural experiences are influenced by each other and vernacular form are the products of transition period (Heath 2009). Jokilehto (1999) notes the importance of locality in defining the vernacular, ethnic, intangible heritage in conservation theory that is widely used.

Monumental buildings drew more interest with respect to vernacular architecture (Oliver 1969, Rapoport 1969, Al Sayyad 2006). Rudofsky (1964) and Oliver -in academic field (1969) - used the vernacular architecture definition for the first time. While Oliver (1969) explained the history of architectural theory in his work named Shelter and Society, included traditional architecture definition as well as vernacular term. Guidoni (1975) put forward the indigenous term concerning the vernacular architecture. Bourdier and Al Sayyad primarily discussed the traditional architecture in international “Traditional Dwellings and Settlements” symposium in 1988 (Ozkan 2006).

Architectural Education in Architectural Departments

The provisions of this law tested in some pilot provinces of Turkey create the need for an architect who is trained, acquainted with vernacular architecture and able to implement it. When the curriculum of some architectural departments in Turkey and world there are some compulsory and optional courses based on the protecting and understanding the vernacular architecture. Some of these courses are; dwelling design based on tradition and traditional structure methods. Especially, the performance of applications by students directly in the workshops through the analysis of traditional systems is highly successful in terms of grasping and learning the system.

The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) which has a moving effect on architecture education has recently decided that it is important to educate students about what it calls ‘Historical Traditions and Global Culture’. According to the guidelines about how to accomplish this, schools of architecture are responsible for providing students with an understanding of parallel and divergent canons and traditions of architecture, landscape and urban design including examples of indigenous, vernacular, vernacular, regional, national settings from the Eastern, Western, Northern, and Southern hemispheres in terms of their climatic, ecological, techno socioeconomic, public health, and cultural factors” (NAAB, 2010; Jarzombek & Hwangbo, 2011).

As a result, vernacular architecture education is as if compulsory subject in department of architecture. For instance, when we make a study of legal legislation about vernacular architecture, it is the National Rural Recovery Strategy Document that has an important place which took effect by being published in the 04.02.2006 dated and 26070 numbered official gazette (Resmi Gazete, 2006). The document in which improving quality of rural settlements and bettering sense of aesthetics is aimed, it is adopted to support and develop samples for dwelling production in standard quality which is suitable for area, its culture, its ecology, science and hygiene rules and which meets the vernacular needs in architecture. Accordingly Ministry of Public Works, as stated in the circular issued in 2007, has aimed ascertaining vernacular architectural typologies and presenting these as a model to newly constructions in rural areas by determining construction practices and materials. Upon request, governorship also has purposed typical drawings be presented to vernacular people and supported its construction. Within this scope, in the first place vernacular architectural typologies of Kayseri and Balıkesir provinces in rural areas have been constructed. In addition, under the force of Unplanned Areas Building Bylaws’ 57th article and 3rd sub-clause, it is decided that upon request, governorships will be able to provide with projects properly for buildings to be constructed in village in accordance with area’s traditional, cultural and architectural characteristics (Ministry of Public Works, 2007). In accordance with 3194 numbered Construction Law’s 27th article amended with decree law concerning the organization and duties of Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning in 2011 August, apart from municipality and urban areas it is obligated that villages in built up and around areas and constructions, other structures in arable fields should be suitable for vernacular sense and architectural characteristics, science, art and health norms (Resmi Gazete, 2011). Also according to a paradox of vernacular architect education, for example vernacular architecture has been changing in some ways like material suitable for area, style, shape etc. and number of vernacular architectural types has been increasing. Even classifying vernacular architectures around the world is quite difficult. Throughout history, mankind, with his extraordinarily creativeness feature, have constructed examples of different vernacular architecture all around the world. Vellinga et al. (2007) classified vernacular architectures according to cultural differences as East and Central Asia, Australia and Oceania, Europe and Eurasia, Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, Latin America, North America, semitropical Africa. And May (2010) categorized vernacular architectures according to materials as wood, stone, soil, clay, stake, bamboo, reed and ice.

Purpose of the Study

In this study vernacular architecture and historical process is summarized, and a small researched is carried to situation of the vernacular architecture in architectural departments. The study is aimed to evaluate of the vernacular education in architectural departments. It is purposed to create awareness about vernacular architecture education.

Research Methods and Findings

In this study a questionnaire was developed in architectural students. In architecture departments, a small two- question poll has been taken by mail with 150 senior architecture students chosen arbitrary from different countries to analyze vernacular architecture education.

The survey questions are as follows:

1) Do you think that you are qualified enough in terms of vernacular architecture material and construction practices throughout architecture education?

a) very few b) few c) intermediate d) good e) very good

2) How do you prefer the courses on vernacular architecture design courses?

a) Compulsory b) Optional

According to the results of the survey the students’ answers to the first question were as follows: 12% “very few”, 48% “Few”, 34% “Intermediate”, 5% “Good” and 1% “Very good”.

73% of the students said “compulsory” and 37% of them said “optional” to the second question.


As we could see from the survey results, 48% of the students think that vernacular architecture education is “few” and 34% of them says it is “intermediate” i.e. insufficient. Since the students need to design the theoretical knowledge in studio environment. In addition the problem on which neighbourhoods need to have knowledge about material, construction practice and design principle in order to be qualified, arises. In this case it is possible to classify and teach the vernacular architecture techniques based on material and according to regional characteristics worldwide. Therefore, it will be necessary to concentrate on analysis studies of the area to be designed. The architect, who could perform analysis in a better way, will possibly reach the good results.

The fact that 73% of the students answer the courses on the vernacular architecture design should be compulsory, indicates the willingness and interest of the students in vernacular architecture.

Davis (2006) laid the emphasis on vernacular architecture education and contemporary architecture education in his work named “Architectural education and vernacular building”. According to Davis (2006) a new educational system which deals more generally with the production of the vernacular environment, and which could be helpful to the success of that environment needs exactly the same things. Educational institutions such as architectural schools are faced with the choice of becoming relevant to the large majority of the people and cultures or remaining within the elitist margins of the changing societies of billions of people. Their relevance, like that the institutions they serve, depends heavily on the extent to which they can distinguish expertise from power.

Considering the implementation and legal obligations about education in terms of the protection of the vernacular architecture and material, construction practice and design principles of the vernacular architecture more emphasis should be placed on vernacular architecture in the departments of architecture.


The author(s) declare that there is no conflict of interest.


  • Abbott, A. (1988). The System of Professions: An Essayon the Division of Expert Labor, Chiago: The Universtiy of Chiago Press. DOI:

  • Al Sayyad, N. (2001). Comsuming Tradition, Manufacturing Heritage. London, Routledge.

  • Al Sayyad. (2006). Preface. In L. Asquit & M. Vellinga (Eds.), Vernacular Architecture in the Twenty-first Century, Theory, Education and Practice. New York, NY; Taylor & Francis.

  • Bowyer, J. (1980). Vernacular Building Conservation. London, UK: The Architectural Press.

  • Boyer, E. L., & Mitgang, L. D. (1996). Building Community: A New Future for Architectural Education and Practise, Princeton: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

  • Davis, H. (2006). Architectural Education and Vernacular Building. In L. Asquith and M. Vellinga (editors), Vernacular Architecture in Twenty First Century: Theory, Education, and Practice (pp. 231- 244). London, UK: Taylor & Francis.

  • Guidoni, E. (1975). Primitive Architecture, Milan: Electa.

  • Heath, K. W. M. (2009). Vernacular Architecture and Regional Design, Cultural Process and Environmental Response. UK: Architectural Press, Elsevier. DOI:

  • Jarzombek, M., & Hwangbo, A. B. (2011). Global in a Not-so-Global World. Journal of Architectural Education, 59-65. DOI:

  • Jokilehto, J. (1999). A history of architecture. D. Phil Thesis, The University of York, England, Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, 1986, Recomposed in PDF format in 2005, England.

  • May, J. (2010). Handmade Houses & Other Buildings, The World of Vernacular Architecture.

  • NAAB (2010) National Architecture Accreditation Board (NAAB) Student Performance Criteria. Retrieved on 5 July, 2010, from http://depts.washington.edu/archdept/Forms/ 2009_Conditions%20_FINAL%20EDITION.pdf

  • Oliver, P. (1969). Shelter and Society. London: F. A. Praeger.

  • Oliver, P. (2003). Dwellings: The Vernacular House World Wide. London.

  • Ozkan, S. (2006). Traditionalism vernacular architecture in twenty-first century. In L. Asquith & M. Vellinga (Eds.), Vernacular Architecture in Twenty First Century: Theory, Education, and Practice. London: Taylor & Francis.

  • Philokyprou, M. (2011). Teaching Conservation and Vernacular Architecture. Journal of Architectural Conservation, 17(2), 7-24. DOI:

  • Rapaport, A. (1969). House, Form and Culture. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

  • Resmi Gazete (2011). Çevre ve Şehircilik Bakanlığının Teşkilat ve Görevleri Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname ile Bazı Kanun ve Kanun Hükmünde Kararnamelerde Değişiklik Yapılmasına Dair Kanun Hükmünde Kararname. 17.08.2011 tarihli, sayı; 28028.

  • Rudofsky, B. (1964). Architecture without Architects. New York, NY: Doubleday & Co.

  • Vellinga, M., Oliver, P., & Bridge, A., (2007). Atlas of Vernacular Architecture of the World. New York, NY: Routledge.

Copyright information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About this article

Published online: 01.01.2014
Pages: 88-94
Publisher: Cognitive-crcs
In: Volume 8, Issue 1
DOI: 10.15405/ejsbs.115
Online ISSN: 2301-2218
Article Type: Original Research
Cite this article