Modernity in tradition: Reflections on building design and technology in the Asian vernacular

Mamun Rashid, Dilshad Rahat Ara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Vernacular buildings across the globe provide instructive examples of sustainable solutions to building problems. Yet, these solutions are assumed to be inapplicable to modern buildings. Despite some views to the contrary, there continues to be a tendency to consider innovative building technology as the hallmark of modern architecture because tradition is commonly viewed as the antonym of modernity. The problem is addressed by practical exercises and fieldwork studies in the application of vernacular traditions to current problems. This study investigates some aspects of mainstream modernist design solutions and concepts inherent in the vernacular of Asia, particularly that of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). This work hinges on such ideas and practices as ecological design, modular and incremental design, standardization, and flexible and temporal concepts in the design of spaces. The blurred edges between the traditional and modern technical aspects of building design, as addressed by both vernacular builders and modern architects, are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers of Architectural Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Building technology
  • Innovation
  • Tradition-modernity
  • Vernacular architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Archaeology
  • Urban Studies


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