Steenkamp, C (2012), Revalidating vernacular techniques for a sustainable built environment by way of selected examples in the Eastern Cape, Masters in Architecture thesis, University of the Free State.
Hassan Fathy, an Egyptian architect, held that architects are in a unique position to revive people’s faith in their own culture, and if, as authoritative critics, they show what is admirable in local forms and even go so far as to use them, the local people at once begin to look on their own products with pride. Furthermore in 1994, as the government of the new South Africa took to the international stage, Nnamdi Elleh, an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture of the University of Cincinnati, stated that as temptations existed for quick design solutions arose to meet political needs, architects should exploit the traditional precedents around them (Figure i.) and not let political expedience guide their design concepts.
This dissertation examines the revalidation of local vernacular building techniques through a multi-layered study addressing issues such as social equity, cultural identity, tradition, sustainability and apprenticeship specifically within the uMasizakhe community in Graaff-Reinet. Vernacular case studies within an isiXhosa community built by the local people elucidate the reintroduction of the local vernacular techniques to strengthen the sustainability of the built environment moreover improving the cultural identity of the populace.
The research promotes the implementation of vernacular building techniques and indigenous knowledge into contemporary architecture through a participatory approach to community development. Following the findings, the knowledge concerning a local vernacular cannot be inconsequential to contemporary architecture which may play an essential role in guiding architects through the past in order to navigate to the present and sustainable future.