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Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

Architectural potential Print E-mail

ImageThe Resource Management Act seeks to sustain “the potential of natural and physical resources to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations”. [5 (1) (a)]

Traditionally architecture has been seen as occupying a site. An architect has been seen as beginning with a site and then the architect possesses the site with a building.

The Resource Management Act begins with a different assumption. A building is seen as part of a much larger and much longer process. The potential of the site for further change is never sacrificed. Buildings are always “unfinished”. In that sense “alteration” does not fit easily with the Resource Management Act.

The need for constant alterations indicates a failure of architecture. This does not of course, necessarily indicate a failure of the architect. Architects work in a social context.

The person who buys a house so that they can alter it to suit their needs is actually buying the wrong house. The popular myth is that they are buying it for the location rather than for the building.

This is where Vernacular Architecture comes in. Vernacular architecture seeks to be so closely related to place as to be the perfect reflection of place.

To seek for location is to delight in vernacular architecture.

Agenda 21 notes the need to “Develop and support the implementation of improved land management practices which deal comprehensively with potentially competing land requirements for agriculture, industry, transport, urban development, green spaces, reserves and other vital needs.” [7.30 (h)]

Protecting the potential for good implies the possibility of potential for evil. Preserving the potential for life and growth implies the giving away of power and certainty.

Vernacular architecture is always open-ended.
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