‘Vernacular’ properly refers to those languages or dialects that are specific to the indigenous peoples of a locality – as opposed to the officially recognised language of a country or nation. But the word has taken on a wider meaning that is relevant to how we might come to relocalise our lives and communities.
In architecture, for instance, ‘vernacular’ describes the indigenous buildings of a locality, usually evolved over generations, and constructed from local materials according to local needs, climates and topographical conditions. Although often seen as ‘primitive’ or confined only to our ‘heritage’ , Paul Oliver, (the foremost authority on the world’s vernacular constructions), believes that modern vernacular architecture has a vital role to play in meeting our future sustainable housing needs.
It seems to me that many other skills for localised living are also essential. So I use the term ‘vernacular solutions’ for all types of initiative that build on local resources and local endeavours in order to meet our local needs and circumstances, to reduce our dependence on distant and specialist services, and to enhance the self-reliance and resilience of our communities for a future in which we can take much less for granted.
Some pages below link to my work in eco-building, building conservation and traditional craft skills. Others reflect my interest in the local, practical and affordable measures by which we can enhance local self-sufficiency and become less demanding and more equitable in how we use the natural resources that sustain our lives.