|Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture: Principles and Examples with Reference to Hot Arid Climates (UNU, 1986, 172 pages)|
People can beautify anything they do with their hands and can satisfy their physical and spiritual needs when they interact with the environment, using its natural materials and sources of energy. The result of the humanenvironment interaction constitutes culture and has led to the development of a multitude of cultures by different people in different environments. Vernacular architecture is one of the most concrete manifestations of this interaction.
The aesthetic aspect was given no less attention and importance than the functional aspect in the development and application of the salsabil, the fountain, the claustra, and the architectural design concepts for shading and air movement, in spite of the fact that these appear to be losing ground to the apparent conveniences of mechanical solutions. The unrestrained use of the machine has resulted in the current energy problems in industrialized countries. As a result, a serious effort has been launched to return to natural energy sources such as solar and wind energy. In this effort, the solutions provided by generations of traditional societies, which used only natural sources of energy in their vernacular architecture, may be of great help in opening new fields for research and application.
Modern science can develop human capabilities to use natural sources of energy far beyond what has been achieved in vernacular architecture. This requires a systematic application of science and a comprehensive comparison of modern and traditional structures. But if modern science is to revitalize architecture in this way, the principles that produced the traditional solutions must be respected. This is the only way modern architecture can surpass, in human and ecological quality, the achievements of vernacular architecture in the hot arid regions of the world.
The examples presented here, some of which show opportunities available for the continuity of vernacular traditions, indicate the benefits of critically evaluating our heritage. We must determine which might serve as viable solutions to some of the current problems, not just of architecture in the hot arid zones but in all environments and cultures, and in many other fields. Such an effort can only enrich human thought and culture.