In an academic sense, the notion of a vernacular architecture has commonly been derived from an idiomatic, regionally specific reading of building practices and habitation. Broadening this reading of the vernacular, the performative characteristics of local species and ecosystems also provide a compelling indigenous ‘language’, a Natural Vernacular, which can be deployed to challenge the existing, sometimes staid design pedagogies around sustainable design.
Vernacular design seeks to continue a conversation about local building practices in a given site. Natural Vernacular design takes that notion a step further, the local built environment is studied as well as the survival mechanisms of the local flora and fauna. Observations of biological evolutions can give a designer more insight into creating a truly sustainable design in situ.
We have looked at this way of designing previously in research studios we have taught centered around biomimicry. In biomimicry nature is mined for patterns of survival, performative characteristics. The idea of a Natural Vernacular looks at both the strategies of the local built environment, or built vernacular while cross referencing natural evolutionary performances.
By researching both the biological responses to a problem and indigenous vernacular solutions, inspiration can be found to make a project more sustainable and potentially much more elegant as well.