Exploring the Language of Vernacular Architecture in Today’s Context: A Case of ‘Kavunji,’ India

Main Article Content

Arulmalar Ramaraj
Catherine Selvaraj
Sanghavi Venkata Varadan


Globalisation, urbanisation, human neglect, socio-economic conditions, discontinuity, weather and climate have been identified from literature studies as the root causes hindering the vernacular architecture. The objective of this article is to explore such causes and impacts on vernacular architecture. For this purpose, ‘Kavunji’a village near Kodaikanal, Tamilnadu is identified. Due to the geographical location and the landform, the vernacular architecture in this village is recently undergoing modifications and extensions. To comprehend the salient characteristics of vernacular architecture, six typologies were identified. The thrust of this paper is to explore the reasons that contributed to modifications and additions in dwelling units and effects on the people’s attitude towards the maintenance of the built environment and form at regular intervals is declining rapidly as it requires tremendous efforts, fiscal resources, energy, and time. As a result, people are utilising modern materials to modify and extend the existing dwelling units, completely ignoring the essence of the context. The authors have identified syntactic analysis as a potential tool to comprehend the changes in the spatial relationship. With this as the focus, dwelling units limited to two-storeys with and without modifications were identified for an in-depth study. The semi-public space thinnai at the main entrance from the street is converted into a bathing space. Besides, additions of rooms occur only on the rear side of the dwelling unit. From this study, the authors reinstate that syntactic analysis effectively explores and interprets the efficiency of the spatial layout in dwelling units that have undergone modifications and additions.



Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Ramaraj, A., Selvaraj, C., & Venkata Varadan, S. (2021). Exploring the Language of Vernacular Architecture in Today’s Context: A Case of ‘Kavunji,’ India . Space and Culture, India, 8(4), 120-133. https://doi.org/10.20896/saci.v8i4.1078
Received 2020-09-26
Accepted 2021-03-26
Published 2021-03-26


Atmowardoyo, H. (2018). Research methods in TEFL studies: Descriptive research, case study, error analysis, and R & D. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 9(1), 197-204. http://dx.doi.org/10.17507/jltr.0901.25
Brown, R., & Maudlin, D. (2012). Concepts of vernacular architecture. The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory, 340-355. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781446201756.n21
Brown, P. A. (2008). A review of the literature on case study research. Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education/Revue canadienne des jeuneschercheures et chercheursen education, 1(1).
Chuapram, S., King, R., &Panin, O. (2012). Transformation of local living: Buddhist Thai communities and vernacular houses around Songkhla Lake basin. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 50, 42-54. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.08.014
Danja,I.I, Dalibi, S.G. & Safarov,A. (2019). Hindrances to vernacular architecture of northern Nigeria, Global Journal of human Social Science: Sociology & Culture, 19 (2), Accessed on 24th April 2020.
Feagin, J. R., Orum, A. M., & Sjoberg, G. (Eds.). (1991). A case for the case study. UNC Press Books.
Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). Five misunderstandings about case-study research. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2), 219-245, doi: 10.1177/1077800405284363
Gall, M. D., Borg, W. R., & Gall, J. P. (1996). Educational research: An introduction. Longman Publishing.
Groat, L. N., & Wang, D. (2013). Architectural research methods. John Wiley & Sons.
Hayes, R., Kyer, B., & Weber, E. (2015). The case study cookbook. Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Worcester, MA, USA.
Hillier, W. R. G., Hanson, J., & Peponis, J. (1987). Syntactic analysis of settlements. Architecture and Behaviour, 3(3), 217-231.
Hillier, B., & Iida, S. (2005, September). Network and psychological effects in urban movement. In International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (pp. 475-490). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Hillier, B. (2009). Spatial sustainability in cities: Organic patterns and sustainable forms. Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).
Hourigan, N. (2015). Confronting classifications-when and what is vernacular architecture. Civil Engineering and Architecture, 3(1), 22-30. doi: 10.13189/cea.2015.030104
Koh, E. T., & Owen, W. L. (2000). Descriptive research and qualitative research. In Introduction to Nutrition and Health research (pp. 219-248). Springer, Boston, MA.
Liao, C. (2017). Rethinking the Vernacular in China: Understanding the Dynamics of Social Transformation and the Evolution of Rural Architecture (Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University). https://doi.org/10.7916/D8445ZKR
Liu, Q., Liao, Z., Wu, Y., Mulugeta Degefu, D., & Zhang, Y. (2019). Cultural sustainability and vitality of Chinese vernacular architecture: A pedigree for the spatial art of traditional villages in Jiangnan Region. Sustainability, 11(24), 6898. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246898
Min, S., & Yang, C. Y. (2013). A structural analysing model of sichuan vernacular dwelling. In Advanced Materials Research (Vol. 663, pp. 164-167). Trans Tech Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.663.164
Nassaji, H. (2015). Qualitative and descriptive research: Data type versus data analysis. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1362168815572747
Noble, A. (2013). Vernacular buildings: a global survey. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Noor, K. B. M. (2008). Case study: A strategic research methodology. American journal of applied sciences, 5(11), 1602-1604.
Ostwald, M. J. (2011). The mathematics of spatial configuration: Revisiting, revising and critiquing justified plan graph theory. Nexus Network Journal, 13(2), 445-470. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00004-011-0075-3
Oliver, P. (2007). Built to meet needs: Cultural issues in vernacular architecture. Routledge.
Patidat, S., & Raghuwanshi, A. B. (2014). Changes in culture and architecture from vernacular to modern: MP, India. In Ahmedabad. International Plea Conference, Ahmedabad, December Ahmedabad, CEPT University (Vol. 8, pp. 16-19).
Philokyprou, M. (2015). Continuities and discontinuities in the vernacular architecture. Athens Journal of Architecture, 1(2), 111-120. https:// doi=10.30958/aja.1-2-2
Rapoport, A. (1969). House form and Cultua. London-University College: New Delhi: Prentice-hall of India Private Ltd, 73.
Ramamoorthy, D. R. R. (2016). An overview of the implementation of precision farming projects in Tamil Nadu, India.
Ravikumar, R. &Gopu, J.A. (2016). An overview of precision farming projects in Tamilnadu, India, https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/73674/1/MPRA_paper_73674.pdf
Rudofsky, B. (1987). Architecture without architects: a short introduction to non-pedigreed architecture. UNM Press.Sadhu, V. K. K., & Ramesh, S. (2020). People’s Acceptance of Vernacular Houses-Transformed Dwellings of Ghantasala, Andhra Pradesh. Journal of World Architecture, 4(si1), 9-24. doi: 10.26689/jwa.v4isi1.920
Stjelja, M. (2013). The case study approach: Some theoretical, methodological and applied considerations (No. DSTO-TN-1188). Defence Science and Technology Organisation Edinburgh (Australia) Land Operations Div.
Tellis, W. (1997). Application of a case study methodology. The qualitative report, 3(3), 1-19.
Vellinga, M. (2006). Engaging the future: Vernacular architecture studies in the twenty-first century. In Vernacular Architecture in the 21st Century (pp. 99-112). Taylor & Francis.
Widdowson, M. D. J. (2011). Case study research methodology. International Journal of Transactional Analysis Research, 2(1), 25-34.
Williams, C. (2007). Research methods. Journal of Business & Economics Research (JBER), 5(3). https://doi.org/10.19030/jber.v5i3.2532
Yildirim, M.& Korkmaz, M (2012). Changes in built environment and in vernacular architecture through globalization: Case of Battalgazi in Turkiye, ERSA conference papers ersa, European Regional Science Association.
Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods 4th edition. In United States: Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data.
Zainal, Z. (2007). Case study as a research method. Jurnal Kemanusiaan, 5(1).