Vernacular and craft-based design

Concept – Various

There are a number of younger architects addressing issues of sustainable living and construction through combining vernacular techniques with contemporary design technologies. Most of this work is based in countries of the global South and in deprived neighbourhoods, taking a participative approach that utilises local skills and knowhow. These architects not only design the buildings, they often raise funds and mobilise volunteers as well as organising related developmental work. For example architect Francis Kéré has built a number of buildings in his family village in Burkina Faso by raising funds in Germany.

Sanjeev Shankar is based in New Delhi, India where his work combines traditional craft skills with an open source inclusive design process. His recent project Jugaad (2008) consisted of residents making a pavilion in their neighbourhood from nearly a thousand discarded oil cans which were worked by hand over a period of three months. The workshops provided a forum to discuss ideas on recycling and reuse and resulted in a large freestanding canopy suspended with pulleys to adjust for shade. Other projects have included collaborations with artisans from different parts of India, working with materials such as leather and bamboo and using traditional skills to produce modern designs.

The utilisation of local materials and skills has also been key to Anna Heringer and Eike Roswag's design for the Meti School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh, built in 2005. The building was designed for the Bangladeshi NGO, Dipshika, who look to reduce migration to cities by improving village life through providing better facilities and employment opportunities. The school was designed to promote creative, student-centred learning and its construction was aimed at using local knowledge and providing jobs for the villagers. The architects refined the vernacular building technique of using wet loam and straw by adding a damp proof course and brick foundations, whilst an upper storey was built using bamboo construction. Heringer and Roswag organised the construction of the school over a period of four months with only the foundation being built by a commercial company. The rest of the building was constructed by hand by local builders who were trained by specialists from Germany and with the help of architecture students from Bangladesh and Austria.

Other Work

'Anna Heringer | Architecture', http://www.anna-heringer.com/ [accessed 16 July 2010].

Sanjeev Shankar - Art, Craft, Design and Architecture', http://www.sanjeevshankar.com/ [accessed 16 July 2010].

'DESI and HOMEmade', Urbaninform, http://www.urbaninform.net/home/minidoc/123/desi-and-homemade.html [accessed 19 July 2010].

References About

Johanna Agerman, 'Jugaad Pavilion', Icon Magazine Online, 2009, http://www.iconeye.com [accessed 19 July 2010].

Ali Kriscenski, 'Aga Khan Awards: METI School of Rudrapur, Bangladesh', Inhabitat, 2007, http://www.inhabitat.com/ [accessed 16 July 2010].

Nico Saieh, 'Handmade School / Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag', ArchDaily, 2010, http://www.archdaily.com/ [accessed 19 July 2010].

Catherine Slessor, 'Magic carpet: Sanjeev Shankar's New Delhi art installation explores the city's take on ecology and celebrates the nation's 'make do and mend' culture', Architectural review, 225 (1345)(2009): 82-85.

'Canopy installation, Rajokri, New Delhi, India', Architectural Review, 226 (1354)(2009): 100-101.

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