Vernacular is not a style.

The vernacular is not a style, still less a style to be copied.  To see it like that is to cease to look.  It can’t be copied.  It dies on your drawing board; you kill the butterfly in order to mount it.  The significance of the vernacular is as a learning tool.

First, the vernacular shows how to be straightforward; for example, how to put materials – any appropriate materials – together to form a structural whole which has character because it is coherent.  Related to this is a properly balanced view of economy.   This is not the economy of the slave-ship and the back-to-back house . . . but the economy of a living organism, an economyin the true sense of the word.

Second, the vernacular demonstrates how quite complex character – we can see it now as an architectural character – emerges from this straightforwardness, as simplicity builds up into an apparent complexity by being constantly applied.

Third, it has that elusive quality, human scale.  It is of course built in a very direct way by people for people.  Not many drawing boards were used . . .

The pitched roof is not inevitable to our work; but (and we can back this with bitter experience as to the converse) we have observed that for getting water off a roof there is nothing quite like tilting it.

Robert Maquire

The Value of Tradition, 1976

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