Before the age of modern materials, our human ancestors created dwellings designed for comfort and durability, built from local natural materials, and adapted to a variety of climates and conditions. This presentation explores traditional buildings, from Scandinavia to North Africa, to China, discovering functions in the forms, and finding wisdom in vernacular design that remains relevant today.
Relevance: As we embrace the ongoing task of creating a sustainable built environment, we can learn from what worked for our ancestors: Vernacular buildings often showcase design features that can address human comfort with minimum energy input.
Catherine Wanek is the author and photographer of the books The New Straw Bale Home and The Hybrid House, Designing with Sun, Wind, Water and Earth. She co-edited The Art of Natural Building (1999, 2nd edition 2015). She published and edited The Last Straw, the International Journal of Straw Bale and Natural Building (1998 – 2003) and has contributed articles and photographs to Su Casa Magazine, Communities, Permaculture Activist and Mother Earth News.
She also produced the Building With Straw series of videos, A Straw Bale Workshop (1993), A Straw Bale Home Tour, and Straw Bale Code Testing, and Urban Permaculture (1999), and The Straw Bale Solution (1998).
A founding member of Builders Without Borders (BWB), Catherine currently serves as BWB Co-director. In 2008. through BWB, she organized the construction of a natural building exhibit at the US Botanical Garden in Washington D.C. At her business the Black Range Lodge, in southwest New Mexico, she organized the first Natural Building Colloquium in 1995 and the 20th anniversary of the NBC in 2015, as well as annual BWB hands-on workshops and events.