Structural Crafts: Developing Vernacular Construction for Sustainable Futures

Program Director

The climate emergency is pushing the fields of architecture and engineering towards finding new sustainable ways to build; 50% of materials and processes used to construct buildings causes one third of all greenhouse gas emissions. While the term sustainable construction implies different methods, one of the most agreed-upon strategies is to make with local, mostly natural, materials and resources. This direction overlaps with building crafts that evolved into a sophisticated body of knowledge through generational transmission and trial and error. But this overlap is not being fully explored, as current scopes for sustainable construction adopt either pre-or super-industrial approaches. Much less has been studied about the potential dialogues between building crafts and engineering technology.

This project aims to examine the design culture behind three vernacular construction crafts in Spain; study and distill the craft knowledge and the inherent mechanics in the three techniques and transform it into a communicable construction-informed design language for engineers and architects; and unearth potential designs for low-carbon building components that combine building crafts and advanced fabrication systems.