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Gillis Ide: Reusing local resources and vernacular design elements in a contemporary design strategy

The aim of this master’s thesis is to highlight the importance of vernacular
architecture, traditional knowledge and resources in relation to building resilience
in Nepal, while highlighting the impact of modernization on that resilience and
architectural diversity.
The building tradition passed on from generation to generation is slowly being
modified by the import of new materials such as cement bricks, concrete, and metal
sheets. The paradox however is, that building knowledge doesn’t evolve as fast as the
new materials are imported. These materials are being used in a “copy-paste” manner, and no real knowledge seem to come along. Therefore, traditional building knowledge is slowly disappearing.

The goal of this dissertation is to develop a new and more sustainable design strategy
for the fast growing building sector that takes into account the local climate conditions while acknowledging the successes of vernacular Nepali architecture.

The real challenge is not about coming back to traditional knowledge, but to develop
an awareness of vernacular technologies of local building materials, through which
new and complementary building strategies that respect and take into account local
traditions and the country’s economic resources can evolve. In this context some of
the living problems that have arisen because of the increase in globalization and
westernization could be solved.
The challenge is to translate this knowledge into contemporary building strategies by
using the strong qualities of the traditional materials combined with the qualities of
the new material.

This research is written to an increasing worldwide interest in building with natural
materials, while explaining its specific qualities and the possibilities of optimising
The design methodology will be using the results of the research done, and will be a
strategy of adaptation to contemporary building techniques with local resources in a
specific given location; the rural village of Chapp.

Keywords: Climate responsive building design, traditional materials, local knowledge, identity, resources, reuse, adaptation, resilience, continuity.