Architecture characterised by the use of local materials and knowledge, usually without the supervision of professional architects. Vernacular architecture represents the majority of buildings and settlements created in pre-industrial societies and includes a very wide range of buildings, building traditions, and methods of construction.
Although it encompassed 95% of the world’s built environment in 1969, vernacular architecture tends to be overlooked in traditional histories of design. It is not one specific style, so it cannot be distilled into a series of easy-to-digest patterns, materials, or elements. Because of the usage of traditional building methods and local builders, vernacular buildings are considered part of a regional culture.
Vernacular architecture can be contrasted against elite or polite architecture, which is characterized by stylistic elements of design intentionally incorporated for aesthetic purposes which go beyond a building’s functional requirements. This article also covers the term traditional architecture, which exists somewhere between the two extremes yet still is based upon authentic themes.