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Classical and Vernacular


Strangeways Terrace in North Adelaide, South Australia
Photo by Matthew Hardy

Leon Krier distinguishes between classical and vernacular architecture. The first adresses monuments, public buildings and the Res Publica. The other one is only concerned by private buildings and structures and by the Res Privata. Though this clear distinction is essential, it is obvious that classical and vernacular cultures regenerate themselves in an ongoing process. The hut and the temple, the house and the palace, the village and the town, the town and the city etc., since common origins in mythical times have always inspired and enriched mutually!


Medieval Houses in contemporary Bologna

" Vernacular architecture is the manual-artisan culture of building, based on tectonic logic..."

"Building is a craft culture which consists in the repetition of a limited number of types and in their adaptation to local climate, materials and custom. "

Leon Krier


House for G.Mayer in Bagnano (1974), Leon Krier

" Vernacular architecture owes its spectacular longevity to a constant redistribution of hard-won knowledge, channeled into quasi-instinctive reactions to the outer world. "

Bernard Rudofsky

" Architecture without Architects "


Meeting House Farm, originally a Quaker meeting place, this historic 90 acre estate was built in 1744 and underwent extensive reconstruction and restoration in 1987.
(This building is for sale at Forbes.com /Real Estate site)


Top Hollow, Morris Township, New Jersey
(For sale at Forbes.com /Real Estate)

" Some might ask how it is possible to place both classical architecture and vernacular construction on the same spectrum at all. Aren't they entirely different, or maybe actually in conflict with one another? Ultraviolet is markedly different from infrared, but both are still light. So what is the commonality that ties classical architecture to vernacular construction? I feel it is the fact that both meet human habitational needs. Some of the needs are very basic. Vernacular construction tends to meet the most pressing basic needs of a culture and a region in manners that are tied closely to climate and other local conditions. Other needs are of higher nature. Man has always had a great need to know who and where he is and to be in harmony with his surroundings. "

Steve Mouzon


Schleifemillen in Luxembourg surroundings
A 19th manufacture reused as housing and workshops

" Vernacular buildings are built by ordinary people who possess principles, or patterns, that have traditionally been handed over from generation to generation. A living pattern language is essential to true vernacular construction by those not trained in architecture.

A community cannot be fully alive, however, without both. Vernacular architecture meets an individual's basic human habitational needs, especially on a short-term basis. The higher needs, however, cannot be met by the vernacular. Simply put, the human heart yearns for things which express not only the memory but also the aspirations of their community and their civilization. Put another way, their most noble buildings should tell the story of not only who they are and where they have been, but also where they hope to go. "

Steve Mouzon


Harvard Club Addition by Richard Cameron ( Cameron, Cameron &Taylor )

"Classical architecture is the artistic-intellectual culture of vernacular building..."

" Transcending the questions of style, period and culture, Classical Architecture qualifies the totality of monumental architecture based on the fundamental principles of " Venustas, Firmitas, Utilitas ", translated into modern language as harmony /beauty, stability /permanence, and utility /comfort. "

Leon Krier

Windsor Demetri Porphyrios 450.jpg

Windsor Ras-Nasrani, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, by Demetri Porphyrios and Associates.(Client: Windsor Hotels International with Red Sea Company)

"Traditional models of tourist development in the form of towns and villages, rather than modernist megabuildings, can provide a basis sufficient for sustainable development becoming a reality.Our propsal for the Windsor Ras-Nasrani resort in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, takes the form of a traditional walled seaside town, similar to those found on the Alexandrian coast and along the Nile in Lower Egypt. The aim is to create an urban fabric of squares, streets and urban blocks, which will provide a varied and responsive environment. A perimeter stone wall encloses the town and defines its limits; it safeguards against indiscriminate sprawl and the consequent spoiling of the sea front, the adjoining desert and the hills beyond."


" The idea of the classical does not belong to a particular period. It is quite simply the idea of the best possible. To be classical means: It belongs to the highest class, to the highest standard, to the highest form. "

Leon Krier