All about Indian Vernacular Architecture

Date: 13-May,2022Last Updated: 26-September,2022
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Nowadays, we are seeing a rapid rise of Vernacular architecture and many hybrid architectural styles that incorporate modern interior and exteriors into the vernacular architecture.

Though globalization has infused various architecture styles into what is known to be modern architecture, vernacular styles still rule the rural regions of the nation.

But before we dwell deep into the topic, let's explore it further.

What is Vernacular Architecture?

As the word suggests, Vernacular Architecture is a specific style that incorporates the construction materials and traditions indigenous to an area or time period.

These buildings are designed according to the needs and want of the populace of that particular area.

Originally the word "vernacular" was used to identify the styles of speech, traditions, rituals, and architecture other than that of the colonial or European powers. Often it was shunned by the West as primitive and ancient.

However, in the early 20th century, the architects understood the deep and hidden prowess of these styles as they were much more equipped to deal with complexities of the climate and lay of the land than the foreign styles.

They are much more eco-friendly, too, as compared to the early western architectural styles.

Some of the most famous architects in the world, such as Le Corbusier, Frank Llyod Wright, and Adolf Loos, were great supporters of vernacular architecture. Bernard Rudofsky popularized vernacular architecture in 1964 through an event called Architecture without Architecture.

However, many contemporary scholars question which style can be called vernacular architecture, as modern western styles such as Alabama Shot Gun Houses and Australian Queenslander houses can also fit in the context of the people's wants, needs, and climate major pointers for the same.

Which are the most recognizable vernacular architecture in the US?

Major Vernacular Architecture in western countries, especially in the US, are Shot Gun Homes of the 1800s, Sears Homes of 1900s, Ranch Homes 1950's, etc.

Major Vernacular Architecture in India

As you might be aware, India has a multitude of cultures, traditions, and languages and has its unique styles of vernacular architecture that is unique to the regions across the nation.

Let's explore some of them.

`1) Gujarati Bhunga

Bhunga Architectural style is prominent in Gujarat's Kutch regions. A Typical Bhunga will consist of a conical thatched roof and a cylindrical house design. A bhunga is made of mud bricks and has a single door as well as two windows.

The home will be elegantly designed with simple yet sophisticated mural artworks depicting nature and the daily lifestyle of the village.

This seemingly simple design helps the residents safeguard themselves from desert winds, sandstorms, heat, and also earthquakes.

2) Chuttilu Architecture style of Andhra Pradesh

The shuttle style of construction involves mud, wattle, rice paste, and ochre. A Truly indigenous style of building. The thatched roof is one of the highlights of the structure, the top comes down and protects the structure.

Divided into three circles, the inner circular and semi-circular structures are dedicated to the storage space. These structures are best for the farming community of the region.

3) Timber & Mud Homes of Ladakh

The iconic structures of Ladakh are built mostly of mud, clay, and timber components. These raw materials help to provide more heating in the extreme cold regions.

The structure is built as a large single room, with a furnace at the corner which acts as a heating source. The mud is sometimes mixed with sawdust to rope in more insulation against the extreme climate.

4) Naalukettu Style of Kerala

Naalu means "Four," and Kettu means "built sides," essentially meaning that the house is effectively covered in four sides with an open courtyard in the middle, the center of which is adorned with a structure to keep Tulsi Plant.

Naalukettu roofs are made up of sunburnt clay tiles, and the structure is built up of red, burnt bricks or limestones. These structures are built to block off the ill effects of the strong and torrid monsoons of Kerala. Each roof tile is replaceable, which makes it easy and cheap to keep the structure fresh every year.

5) Koti Banal

Perhaps the most interesting styles in this list, Koti Konal structures are perhaps one of the most recognizable forms of vernacular architecture in India.

Known for their extreme earthquake resistance, these homes are often 3-7 storeys high. The lower stories are for safeguarding the domesticated animals, the middle ones are for the residents, and the top ones are for storage.

Built on Thick Timber and reinforced stones, the structures are a blend of wooden frames and stone masonry. This is completed with slate roofs on the top.

So, folks, this was a glimpse of Indian Vernacular Architecture.

We will we back with another interesting topic next time.

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