New book highlights traditional lessons for modern architects to maximize sustainability | News

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Mud Beehive houses near Aleppo, Syria. Image: Bernard Gagnon.

Long before foam insulation and concrete tower blocks, humans were finding ingenious ways to address their needs through architecture. Using local materials and inherited construction techniques, societies have ensured that buildings provide protection and comfort. In Tonga, traditional curved roofs offered aerodynamic protection against storms and cyclones. In the Uros islands of Lake Titicaca in the Andes, reeds were used in houses due to the insulating properties of their hollow stems.
— cnn.com

A key issue in sustainability lies with imported building materials, leading architects to look for more ways to use local resources. As attention is turned towards existing materials, traditional design solutions must also be taken into account as each culture has its own history of building in a particular climate and region. 
Earthen hut with thatched roof in Toteil, near Kassala, Sudan. Image: Petr Adam Dohnálek.In a recently released book Habitat: Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Planet, edited by Sandra Piesik, these unique cultural design solutions are highlighted as lessons for current architects. As the construction industry’s resource-heavy techniques eat up energy and produce greenhouse gas emissions, the question at the center of these issues is “what is modern”? Traditional architecture is not necessarily in opposition to progress. Moving forward, many architects are now embracing a combination of local practices with the latest technology, aesthetics and engineering. The challenge is now to use these combined resources and devise an economically viable model.  Fujian Tulou (earth buildings) at Tianluokeng (Snail Pit village) in southwestern Fujian province, China. Image: Gisling/Wikipedia.

 

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