Imaging vernacular architecture: A dialogue with anthropology on building process

Dilshad Ara, Mamun Rashid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnographic surveys of building processes rarely feature in mainstream architectural history. The curious dearth of studies derives perhaps more from the absence of a relevant methodological orientation and cross-disciplinary collaboration than a lack of serious interest in the building process itself. By drawing on building methods and know-how from an oral culture, in this essay, we propose that sentient building processes are useful means for constructing one seamless history that transcends limited disciplinary representations. We also pursue the possibilities of collaboration on ethnographic knowledge across vernacular architecture and anthropology. The essay discusses concepts and methods including visual methods. Informed by current anthropology, images are additionally utilised to interpret architectural temporality, a biographical view of dwelling, situated learning, technology-culture non-duality, and socio-spatial references. By intertwining a cross-disciplinary methodological position with methodological techniques and by tying conditions and potentials of human life to the very act of building, concerning an indigenous culture without any written history, we advocate vernacular architecture’s potential to complement mainstream architectural history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-195
Number of pages24
JournalArchitectural Theory Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 3 2016


  • Architectural history
  • Hybrid ethnographic methods
  • Technology and culture
  • Vernacular architecture and visuals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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