Tradition and innovation. One couldn’t seem more different from the other. And yet, these contradicting terms are increasingly being used as allies in contemporary architecture. While tradition may evoke images of closed, unwavering ideas, innovation instead brings to mind movement, change – a rejection of historical precedence. How is it that such polar opposites could be utilized together in architecture and building? We will take a look at how and why architects are increasingly bridging the gap between the two distinctive building methods to create a more harmonious and sustainable future.
What is the difference between traditional and innovative architecture?
Before we take a look at how traditional and innovative architecture are being used together, it is important to understand how they relate to architecture.
Traditional building methods, also known as vernacular architecture, are the practices long used by cultures based on local resources, geographics, climatic conditions and lifestyles.
Innovative building methods are instead the basis of modern architecture. With the destruction of entire towns and cities during the two great wars as well as with the expansion of both globalization and industrialisation, the trend was to move to a new era of building using new materials, technology and designs. The key to innovation is change, or breaking away from old ways of approaching architecture.
Architects face challenges every day in their field of work, and there are two particular problems which are greatly influencing the way they approach their designs.
The first has to do with creating harmony in a particular environment. With the onset of modern architecture, particularly regarding postwar construction, architects often wanted to turn away from the ways of the past and looked toward the future, opting for new ideas, concepts and materials. The result was an influx of innovative, never before seen buildings which began to create a path toward change. Exciting designs were built; however, it was not uncommon for modern architecture to feel invasive and create discord within its environmental context.
Now there is an increasing desire to maintain harmony with a structure’s surroundings, which is why architects are turning to the vernacular to inspire their projects. Combining local traditions and materials with innovative technologies is adding an even more creative touch to modern architecture while respecting the historic context. Vernacular architecture is now being used as a source of inspiration with surprising results as innovation builds upon tradition, one complementing the other with harmonious results.
In a previous post we talked about sustainable architecture, a theme which has taken off in the past twenty years with the drastic effects of climate change on the planet. With increasing awareness of our impact on the environment, the ingenuity of vernacular architecture is offering insight to sustainable and innovative building practices. Channeling local knowledge in terms of materials as well as technological, spatial, aesthetic and cultural elements is leading to new directions in innovative and sustainable contemporary architecture.
Tradition and innovation paving the way of the future
As we have seen, two polar opposites – tradition and innovation – can come together to create groundbreaking advances in architecture. Not only are vernacular designs a basis of inspiration for creating innovative, harmonious buildings and spaces, they can also help create the foundation for a more sustainable future.
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