Prof. H Martin Edge






Edge, H.M. and Pearson, R. (2001)

Vernacular Architectural Form and the Planning Paradox: A Study of Actual and Perceived Rural Building Tradition

Journal of Architecture and Planning Research Vol. 18 No 2 Summer 2001(ISSN 0738-0895)


Research in Scotland has described a paradox in the UK planning system as it tries to encourage tradition and vernacular architecture in the rural built environment. It is suggested that the paradox, which is demonstrated to be at least partially instigated and perpetuated by much of the literature on vernacular local architecture, emanates from a flawed implicit definition, in the minds of many planners, of the nature of vernacular built forms. The thesis of the paper hinges around a discussion of the true nature of appropriate vernacular form in relation to changing, culturally driven, contemporary tradition. It is supported by evidence from the literature on the subject, demonstrating shifting perceptions of 'place' and the use of symbols in our appreciation and planning of built environments which reflect a strongly historicist perspective. Empirical evidence is presented which demonstrates that many of our mental constructs of tradition in the rural built environment are based on a partial, historical view which does little to accommodate evolution and necessary change in rural systems. It is proposed that a systems based, broadly ‘ecological’ approach to the way in which built environments address local economic, social, resource and environmental criteria is a more appropriate response to the control of rural architectural form than current models, based as they are largely on conformity to a ‘checklist’ of visual criteria constructed around an 'inauthentic' view of 'place'.