Le technologique est une définition du vernaculaire.
Ce dernier est, et a toujours été un rapport entre une société et un environnement donné. Vernaculaire est la transfiguration technologique d’un environnement en une qualité d’habitabilité. Mais vernaculaire, c’est aussi une culture.
Les murs des jardins Arabicos de Pantelleria, accumulent la chaleur et protègent du soleil, protègent du vent et permettent la culture des agrumes sur l’ile (écart de température maximum de 1° entre jour et nuit, humidité constante entre 5 et 13%). Les habitations, rues et jardins sont tous liés géographiquement pour permettre de récupérer chaque goutte des rares pluies et les utiliser pour la croissance des arbres. L’eau des rues ruissele à l’ombre le long des murs, l’eau des toitures est récupérée, tout se déverse dans les réservoirs des jardins. C’est un macro-système que l’on considère à l’échelle de l’ile entière et qui permet de l’habiter.
Les murs à pêches, selon le même principe, faisaient de Montreuil le fournisseur en fruits de la table de Louis XIV (+12° par rapport aux températures ambiantes). En1870, on pouvait compter 600 km de linéaire de mur pour la production de plusieurs millions de fruits habituellement absent de la région. Macro-système, encore, que l’on mesure à l’échelle du ventre de la région parisienne.
Le climat des serres de production contemporaines hollandaises est maitrisé au joule, au degré et au pourcent d’humidité près. Une serre de production biologique en verre permet de maximiser l’apport en lumière pendant le jour. Les lampes LED rouges et bleues augmentent l’apport de lumière utile pendant la nuit et accroissent le développement de la plante. La serre est un environnement clos qui permet de récupérer les vapeurs d’eau et certains résidus énergétique. Elle ne dispose pas d’équipement d’inertie, elles sont donc climatisées, chauffées ou rafraichies. La température est constamment régulée par un réseau de capteurs qui contrôlent l’ouverture ou la fermeture de dispositif d’aération naturelle et artificielle. Pour éviter la consommation d’engrais, elle abrite également un micro-écosystème composée d’une ou deux espèces animales qui aident l’agriculteur à protéger sa production de certaines maladie. La serre se branche au réseau élèctrique et permet de transformer 90,9% de combustible fossile, 5,9% d’énergies renouvelables, 1,5% de combustible nucléaire, et 1,7% d’importations, en énergie et matière organique.
Dear Mr Gore,
I am researching the ability of ecology and renewable energy to get deeper into culture, architecture and landscape - landscapes for energy. Thus, bringing up the idea that renewable energies could create new shapes, new materialities and new sensations to space, architecture and urban/landscape planning. That’s building up a new langage, from the scratches of both vernacular climatic architecture and high-technologies.
The axiom : Ecology could and should get enough consideration to renew radically the way we design and the way we think our territories : It is about the language of architecture and the plastic of landscape itself ; It is about getting more soul, more culture, and more poetics to this shifting period of ours.
It is about getting to a new «technological vernaluarity», built by some «engineers-farmers».
Why is it important, as one can feel we have so much to do before ?
Traveling through Italy and Spain, one can notice that we are still considering renewable energy through the prism of our industrial know-how. And thus, every plant is to be hidden to most men, built away from cities.
But why ? Those technologies are not inconvenient, they are not endangering us, they even are quiet impressively romantic. And yet for now, the great shift in our mastering of resources is kept out of our sight whereas, we should take glory in bauilding such infrastructures. They should be monuments of our resilience, we should get the same enthusiasm than when dealing with Great Frontiers.
There are examples, mostly in Northern Europe, of rural communities established around a shared renewable energy project. And not only this brings people together with great joy, they also get to be more connected to their global context and to the truth of climate change.
In Italy, some farmers give up a piece of land and lease it to produce energy. Where they used to wake up and see a field (the pride of their work), they now take breakfast looking at the black surface of solar panels. That’s alright, but there, one can feel some dullness (at least). There is, in this landscape, a tremendous gloominess ; the feeling that the choice was either BOREDOM or SUFFOCATION.
Rural areas have been mostly forgotten by architecture, and when it comes at last (considering solar panels as architecture), it fails to bring happiness (and eventually approval).
We can argue about the beauty of it, we can argue about our needs and obligations… turns out no-one has really investigate its capabilities.
Renewable energies have this spectacular particularity, they allow cohabitation. We have here a new and unique opportunity to rethink architecture and landscape, and beyond, the way we use and transform our territory. We can at last, get to some balance between the attention we have for metropolitan areas and for productive countryside : If every pieces of solar panels or wind mills could bring some kindness to a landscape, if it could bring as much preciousness as it is technological, every-one would start to feel blessed and full of interest and devotion.
For my concern, moving away from the modernist dichotomy of culture versus nature is allowing architecture to take a quiet yet renewed place into society. We are in desperate need for new energies, and how easy would it be if it brought instant beauty...
About vernacular architecture.
Why is it that much into this research project ?
Energy, with its new ability for cohabitation has become a diffused condition in Mediterranean lands (at least - that’s my corpus). As the above in-progress map shows, we have switched from centralized means of production to a climate dependent, diy opportunistic display of lightweight architectures. Architecture without architects in a way, still with, (but only with) technicians). As a diffused condition, energies are fulfilling one of the first aspect of vernacularity without so far getting to culture. And that’s the main axiom of this research : we can only embraced such a development, this is good news for our use of resources… yet it is honestly dull, and no-one has ever given birth to a dull-liking infant. That’s where architects and artists could come on stage. But if that happens, we can also hope architects won’t go further in grandiloquence because energy should become a popular culture, expressed as such.
Then and finally, there’s our heritage and the truthful meaning of what used to be vernacular architecture. And there comes a new corpus (yet to be explored - it hasn’t been really). Vernacular architecture is often a popular deployment of know-how and traditions that has one target : To accommodate the climate of a region for its habitability in the most economical way.
Ancient Moorish architecture and planning is all about getting life from desert conditions. From the VIIIth century, they turned many Mediterranean deserts into gardens, using walls to gather energy during the day and temperate the nights, using paved ways and bumped roofs to collect every drops of water and lead it to cultivated fields. Dammuso.
Hyderabad’s skyline, until the mid-twentieth century was of its wind-catcher, the natural ventilation system of any housing (replaced by ac).
Structures of marbles (because it is local) were built near Lago di Guardia in North Italy to grow citrus trees. Those structures, facing south, accumulated heat, and were covered during the coldest days of winter…
Vernacular architecture is about adapting one climate… it is also a culture that has brought many forms and strategies to formal architecture. It is admired today for its ingenuity, lasting quality (milleniums for some), and its efficiency. But it is also the pride and identity of some regions or communities. Chimneys in Venise or in the more rural Puglia were marks of social ambitions but they were also the pride of craftsmen and farmers. What if our present condition brought the same fulfillment to owners and builders.
In my opinion, architecture (amongst other), could bring some joy to the climate crisis and in its solutions. As we architects, (most of us) are not yet involved in this, I feel we still have another brick to add to this emergency, - explore climate.
And that brick can only be the research on its beauty and acceptance.