Vernacular and Transnational Urbanism

Vernacular Urbanism in the Countryside of Cape Town Google Images
Vernacular Urbanism in the Countryside of Cape Town Google Images
Metropolitian area of Cape Town (2009) Google Images
Metropolitian area of Cape Town (2009) Google Images

After reading Henry Glassie’s Vernacular Architecture (2000) I have come to understand vernacular architecture as the informal buildings constructed with natural materials using pragmatic methods which incorporate a sense of beauty with cultural experience and association. In Glassie's book, “Vernacular architecture" he says that when we isolate an architectural part of a city and it becomes neglected by architects and scholars the city goes from being known to unknown. He describes vernacular urbanism as an acknowledgment of low resources and culture of buildings. It is a more traditional or natural way of living and would be like a local unique style of a building that uses local material and is designed to tailor local needs. Darton's article "Architectural Terrorism," wonders what it would be like to live in a city more deeply connected to itself and other places on earth. That sounds like vernacular urbanism where everyone is comfortable, sheltered and a part of the city.

I’ve gathered from Darton’s Architectural Terrorism, Vernacular Architecture, and Huang’s Walking Between Slums and Skyscrapers that transnational architecture is the artificial design of structures that hold ‘purely exterior’ value, which extend high into the sky to signify power, prestige, and wealth. Transnational urbanism is described well by Darton in “Architectural Terrorism” where he sees cities becoming “dehumanized” and transforming into futuristic and technologically sound global cities. International companies, economic policies, styles of buildings that sprout up globally around the world are a big part of the transcendent nature of transnational urbanism. These skyscrapers clearly assert their dominance as they “suppose themselves to operate on a higher plane than that inhabited by the human material beneath it” (Darton, 2002, p. 91).. Glassie points out in his book that despite the tradition, the vernacular experience has been decimated and technology has conquered. It almost looks like people are losing their fulfillment and transnationalism is putting limits on vernacular urbanism and portraying people in slums as refuges.

There is a significant relationship between vernacular and transnational urbanism despite how they look worlds apart, but actually the transnational lifestyle is happening in both regions. The relationship between the two is that they both encompass the same subjects. This includes time, space, culture, economics, politics and more. However, in a sense transnational urbanism is what is vernacular to our globalized era. One of the biggest differences is that transnational urbanism tries to focus on globalization and how they can affect the world around us. The footsteps of individuals walking through a global city between slums and skyscrapers will be very different depending on the effect that globalization has on each particular life (Huang, 2004).Vernacular urbanism focuses on a specific area at one time without bringing in outside sources.