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[Episode #208] – Vernacular Architecture

Can ancient architectural and building techniques help us create comfortable spaces without consuming energy in today's world?

Our guest in this episode thinks so.

Dr. Sandra Piesik is an award-winning architect, author, and scientist with extensive experience in what is now called “vernacular architecture.” Among many other things, she specializes in agitating for legislation supporting sustainability and nature-based solutions to the climate challenge.

She has published two books on vernacular architecture, including Habitat—Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Climate, published in May of this year. In it, she curates the work of an international team of more than one hundred experts across a diverse range of disciplines, who examine what the traditions of vernacular architecture and its regional craftspeople around the world can teach us about creating a more sustainable future. With over 1000 illustrations, the book reveals how people and cultures have used indigenous materials and construction techniques in all five of the planet’s climate zones to create comfortable built environments, and it stresses the importance of preserving disappearing craftsmanship and local knowledge before it is lost forever.

In today’s conversation, we discuss what ‘vernacular architecture’ is, what some of the specific techniques are, how those techniques could be used today, and what’s preventing us from using them. We also discuss the role of vernacular architecture within the broader context of sustainable development, and what a holistic approach to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals might look like.


Dr. Sandra Piesik is an award-winning architect, author, and scientist specializing in the implementation of global sustainable legislation, nature-based solutions, art, design, and science. She is the founder of Amsterdam-based 3 ideas design consultancy.

Her diverse global engagements range from leading research & development projects, international lectures, judging competitions, and the nomination of awards.

Dr. Piesik is a stakeholder and network member of several UN and EU organisations including UNFCCC: The Resilience Frontiers, the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP), the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB), and the Climate and Technology Centre & Network (CTCN), as well as the European Union Commission’s New European Bauhaus.

Her published work includes: Habitat—Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Climate (May 2023); ‘HABITAT: Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Planet’ (2017); and ’Arish: Palm-Leaf Architecture’ (2012).

On Twitter: @SandraPiesik

Instagram: sandrapiesik83

Facebook: sandra.piesik.108

LinkedIn: dr-sandra-piesik

On the Web:

Recording date: August 9, 2023

Air date: October 4, 2023

Geek rating: 1