38. Rethinking 'Vernacular' with Elizabeth Golden

38. Rethinking 'Vernacular' with Elizabeth Golden

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“All of those natural materials—stone, wood—we’ve always seen ourselves in them, in some way.”

Today we engage in a broad-ranging discussion on the contemporary and future applications of what are considered to be vernacular or traditional materials with architect and professor Elizabeth Golden. Besides their structural, economic and political entanglements, our conversation also veers towards the spiritual and intangible ramifications of working with non-modernist materials.

Timestamp Outline

1:30 Book: Building from Tradition: Local Materials and Methods in Contemporary Architecture by Elizabeth Golden
5:04 Optimism and pessimism on traditional materials in an industrialized world
5:51 Architects Francis Kéré, Vo Trong Nghia and Al Borde
6:10 Why use traditional materials? Not a silver bullet
7:16 Relevance in Seattle?
8:06 Herzog and de Meuron’s Ricola Kräuterzentrum in Laufen, Switzerland
8:12 “In the United States, I think there’s a fixed way of thinking about building. Here, it always just comes down to money.”
8:57 Rick Joy rammed earth houses, Olson Kundig rammed earth projects
9:43 Cultural life of materials
10:32 Bernardo Bader and the embodied practice and of solid wood construction in Vorarlberg, Austria
13:00 Modern aesthetics and materials
15:45 Mud brick/adobe in Niamey 2000 project in Niger
17:01 How did you become interested in traditional materials?
17:49 Arkansas architecture: Fay Jones, Edward Durell Stone, Ozark vernacular stone architecture
19:50 Graduate school at Columbia and Studies in Tectonic Culture by Kenneth Frampton
21:28 “As first and foremost an architect, I was really interested in how exactly this was done.”
21:56 The Chapel of Reconciliation in Berlin: rubble of the Berlin Wall and rammed earth
23:16 Le Corbusier’s rubble walls of the Ronchamp Chapel
24:37 Potsdamer Platz and the high-tech, new Berlin
25:51 Le Corbusier’s pisé refugee housing
27:36 Spirituality, traditional societies, and a non-pragmatic reading of materials and architecture
30:23Heilerde”, “healing earth” and the tradition of consuming earth
31:21 “These materials are political”: You can build with the body of the earth, form it and occupy it.
32:18 Chthonic vs Tectonic
32:33 Book Material Cultures, Material Minds: The Impact of Things on Human Thought by Nicole Boivin
33:49 Mesoamerican shaping of soil
35:55 “You ask the brick what it wants to be, and then you do something with the brick.” “And then the brick changes you.” “Exactly!”
37:35 “All of those natural materials--stone, wood--we’ve always seen ourselves in them, in some way.”

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