Vernacular Architecture Visual Gallery

Vernacular architecture means architecture created by indigenous humans around the world. Although not all of the entries on this page qualify in that regard, the professionally designed structures included here have an affinity for the earth beyond that usually seen in western styles.

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Charles Johnson - Boulder House.

One of the most influential designs on me personally. The boulders locations are not natural - a crane was used to place them per the architectural design.

Mosque - Namdo, Mali.

Native adobe is probably one of the most used building materials in the world. Great plasticity of form is possible.

Mosque - Nangoyo, Mali.

Concrete is just a more permanent form of mud and has all the plastic possibilities of adobe.

Residence - Segu, Mali.

Boldly modeled parapet detail. Bright iron oxide color applied to surface.

Ndebele Decorated Residence.

Polychrome designs over adobe have been used on vernacular architecture for millenia. See Moonhouse Ruin Complex below.

Residence - Sirigu, Ghana.

Door opening formed like the mouth of a clay pot. Abstract polychrome designs reinforce the impression of pottery.

Stair - Kano, Nigeria.

Wonderful nested shells of plastered adobe. Doorways in vernacular architecture are often are narrow at the bottom and wide at the top; ergonomically sensible.

Mosque - Sanam, Niger.

Incised decoration and niches illustrate the modeling possibilities of plastic (formable) building materials.

Hussain-Doshi - Gufa Interior.

Wonderful organic forms. Note the floor details, like a flow of honey over the ground.

Palace of the Emir.

More geometric than most adobe structures. Incised and polychromed designs create symbolic surfaces.

Dogon Residence.

Well implemented columns and niches create a rich texture. Rock border at bottom of walls root the house to the earth.

South African Residence.

Effective use of natural pigments to enliven a simple form.

Mosque Staircase - Timbukto.

Staircases are also expressive in vernacular architecture. Note the large buttress providing support for the upper landing.

San Francisco Mission Church - Rear View, New Mexico.

A sculpture of earth. Massive buttresses support the walls and root the structure in the earth.

Daniel Grataloup - Maison d'Anieres.

Ferrocement structure taking full advantage of the plastic nature of the material.

Kuchumaa Eco Center.

Impressive use of ferrocement to assume the forms of the surrounding native rock.

Ferrocement Residence - Interior.

All surfaces are part of the whole.

Enclosed Walkways - Exterior View.

A contemporary design in a vernacular idiom. See Los Farallônes Project Page for use of a similar concept.

Enclosed Walkway - Interior View

Filtered light to mute the harshness of a desert sun. Parabolic arches.

Mesa Verde - Cliff Palace.

A masterpiece of vernacular architecture. Native stone masonry plastered with mud.

Moonhouse Ruin Complex.

Wattle and daub construction. Traces of polychrome design on walls. Wonderful window ledge.

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