Towards an understanding of vernacular domestic habitation

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Virginia Tech


From the critical discussions presented here, we observe that inquiries on VDH pose two sets of questions. The first set is more generalistic in nature, dealing with the environmental features like physical components of nature, type of building materials, available technology etc. These factors Turan refers to as “environmental adequacy" (Turan, 1990) differ in various environmental contexts, Moreover, both Rapoport and Turan agree that this is the product component of VDH but, not the only answer to comprehend its actual meaning. As a product it may provide information about physical structure, form or use of material ie the “whatness" of VDH.

The ideas that stem from cultural convictions, specific rituals and patterns of life are nonarchitectural in nature and provide information regarding the “how" of the actual making. These social-science related issues reinforce the second set of questions mostly depending upon reasoning and understanding. VDH simply as a physical entity presents an incomplete picture and ignores the philosophical questions that arise from the process and relational aspects. Beyond representation one has to actually learn about the social origins of knowledge, the importance of history and the historical development and transformation of ideas. Also, one has to explore the cognitive framework of mind of the creators of VDH. VDH is not an isolated phenomenon in society, it reflects a complex socio-cultural picture of both the creators and the society at large. Some of the elements of this complex milieu have been presented in this paper.