The seed of this compilation was sown with a simple thought –'what is the relevance of vernacular traditions in contemporary life? Can they be merged with needs of today to make a sustainable living environment?' In a rapidly developing economy faced with environmental crisis, climate change, globalization, mass migration, conflicts, and tourism, one always wonders as to what will be the future of the built environment?
As the world shrinks to become a global village, what would be the role of the local? Achieving sustainability is at the core of every development; environmental, social, and cultural as per the Agenda 21 ratified at the Earth Summit in 1992. In the last 20 years, the concept of sustainable architecture has also evolved considerably from its original image of "energy efficient architecture" to encompass the socio-cultural traditions and ways of life.
Vernacular traditions are a creative process developed by the interpretation of past knowledge and experience, negotiated, and adapted by generations to meet the needs and challenges of time. Vernacular architecture is a physical manifestation of environmental, social, and economic constraints, and forms an important part in the evolution of mankind. Until recently, the vernacular has largely been stigmatized as an image of poverty and backwardness, and has been shunned in favour of more progressive modern buildings made of steel and concrete. The value and significance of the vernacular has only been recognized in the last 25 years, and extensive research has been undertaken for its documentation in the West. Simultaneously, there has been a shift in understanding of architecture as part of a larger cultural landscape rather than a form of individualistic expression.
Vernacular built form, which has been developed by the community in response to the environment and culture, has been brought under the gamut of "built heritage", and some exceptional cases of vernacular architecture; such as Asante Traditional Buildings in Vernacular Traditions Contemporary Architecture Ghana, Traditional Human Habitat in the M'zab Valley in Algeria, the historic villages of Korea – Hanoe and Yangdong, the Wooden Churches of Slovak park of the Carpathian Mountain Area, and the Sukur Cultural Landscapes have been inscribed as World Heritage Sites. It is, however, not enough to protect and preserve the static vernacular built form. It is imperative to recognize and appreciate the dynamic building traditions and knowledge systems that are responsible for creating that form.