Call for Chapters for an upcoming publication

PROJECT LEADERS: Paul Memmott, John Ting and Tim O’Rourke

Paul Oliver’s 1997 ‘Encyclopaedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World’ was the first comprehensive compilation that included a broad region made up of Southeast Asia, Australasia and Oceania’s vernacular buildings, and work on the second edition has been under way since 2015. It continues the outstanding multidisciplinary scholarship on the region’s rich and diverse vernacular architecture highlighting its distinctiveness and relationships with social and cultural structures. Vernacular architecture has been seen as relatively static, resistant to change and lacking modern relevance, but the Encyclopedia’s entries of the region suggest that it is often dynamic, multi-faceted and progressive, and that many theoretical advances had been made in the global field of vernacular architecture studies. This proposed book seeks to expand on the themes suggested by the Encyclopedia for places in Southeast Asia, Australasia and Oceania. Broadly, we ask: ‘What is the relevance and role of Vernacular Architecture research across Australasia and Oceania in informing settlement planning and architectural practice in contemporary contexts?’

Postcolonial methodologies are dispelling the myth that one dominant group can monopolise the processes of modernisation and arguing that contemporary and historical relationships between vernacular and modern may be a result of complex social, cultural and political negotiations between disparate stakeholders. Rapid political, economic, technological, social and environmental changes have transformed vernacular architectures in Southeast Asia, Australasia and Oceania, initially brought on by the 20th century formation of independent excolonial nations. The region has then been affected by increasing globalization, characterised by increasingly permeable national boundaries, exchanges of people, finances and material culture items, and by recent digital technologies, impacting and transforming architectural expressions.

This proposed book seeks to expand the Encyclopedia’s discourse with higher-level reflection and regional theorisation of these transformations. It seeks to understand the cultural change tensions brought about by mobility, modernisation and politicisation, and how these tensions impact on vernacular architectures. We invite authors from different disciplines to consider one or more of the following themes:

  • How and why has the vernacular been used to bridge the distance between the local and the modern? For example, how have vernacular architecture and settlement approaches been appropriated in the modern development of ubiquitous typologies in the region, and what is their legacy? And what is the role of technological development of traditional knowledge in conserving, safeguarding and reviving existing traditions?
  • How have multidisciplinary methodologies, research methods and practices expanded the consideration of vernacular architecture research and settlements? For example, can ethnographic research methodologies and distinctive cross-cultural approaches that derive from vernacular architecture be adapted to institutional architecture? Or, what is (or has been) the effect of labour and financial flows across the region on vernacular architecture?
  • How have vernacular architecture and settlements been used to argue for postcolonial modernisation and nation-building and what has been the effect on heritage and conservation? For example, what is the relationship between modern aspirational vernacular architecture and settlements in the region and established cultural heritage traditions? And, what is sustainability’s role in the context of the use of increasingly scarce vernacular architecture materials for middle-class, tourism and the state typologies in the region?

We call for chapters to reflect and explore one or several of these themes in Southeast Asia, Australasia and Oceania, across either the precolonial, colonial and/or postcolonial periods, with the aim of expanding and broadening conventional understandings of vernacular architecture in the region. This proposed book builds on papers presented at the vernacular stream at the 36th annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand in 2019, and the upcoming special issue of the Fabrications journal on vernacular houses. Please email enquiries or chapter proposals (max. 500 words) and author biographies to Paul Memmott ([email protected]) for potential inclusion in the book. The authors of accepted proposals will be invited to submit full chapters for peer review, the outcome of which will determine inclusion in the book.