Appropriate architecture

ImageThe Resource Management Act places a duty on the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Conservation, and every local authority to be satisfied that any objective, policy, rule or other method “is the most appropriate means of exercising the function, having regard to its efficiency and effectiveness relative to other means”. [32 (1) (c) (ii)]

Vernacular architecture constantly seeks for appropriate means.

Vernacular architecture always considers alternatives.

Vernacular architecture uses familiar building techniques, but also welcomes innovation. Vernacular innovation grows from an understanding of place, tradition and indigenous custom, and thus it seems familiar although it is new.

A building industry which is driven by the desire for profit seeks to accelerate the consumer society, introducing building techniques which will create dissatisfaction and generate demand.

The Resource Management Act assumes a fundamental reassessment of architectural theory.

Agenda 21 notes that “All countries should formulate programmes to enhance the utilisation of local materials by the construction sector by expanding technical support and incentive schemes for, increasing the capabilities and economic viability of small scale and informal operatives who make use of these materials and traditional construction techniques.” [7.69 (b)]

Agenda 21 makes a link between scale of building and the ability of people to relate to architecture. This does not necessarily mean that buildings need to be small in size. A mediaeval cathedral humanises the vastness of the built form, so that it is possible to relate to the whole through the crafted detail of a doorhandle. Each cathedral becomes unique and a symbol of community.

Vernacular architecture uses materials and techniques which are appropriate to the unique aspirations of people to live in a humane environment.