Vernacular as a renewable resource: toward region-specific architecture in Saudi Arabia, a case from KFUPM

Jamal Al-Qawasmi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: In an increasingly industrialized and globalized world, it is believed that future architects will be in a better position to solve architectural and urban problems if they have been exposed to education about vernacular and region-specific architecture. Research that explicitly examines how to utilize vernacular knowledge and skills in contemporary architectural education and practice is rare. Lack of research that addresses and investigates vernacular traditions as a renewable resource with potential for continuity and viability is one of the main deficiencies in teaching vernacular architecture and the current vernacular discourse in general. Enhancing students’ ability to produce and develop region-sensitive architecture is one of the main goals of the architecture program at the King Fahd University for Petroleum Minerals (KFUPM). Issues such as the detailed analysis and investigation of vernacular traditions and values, and their use and integration in contemporary architectural practice, among others, are emphasized in the program. The paper reports on the author's experience in teaching three courses, at KFUPM, in which students are introduced to various analytical concepts and approaches that enable them to better understand vernacular traditions and integrate vernacular knowledge in the design process. A compressive pedagogical approach that combines theoretical teaching with practical exercises was developed and used in teaching the three courses. The aim of pedagogical approach is to enhance students’ capacity to develop their individualized methods and decision-making abilities relevant to utilizing vernacular knowledge in practicing and creating contemporary region-specific architecture. Results show that the implemented pedagogical approach is successful in enhancing students’ understanding of vernacular traditions and values, their ability to integrate vernacular knowledge in their practice of design, their ability to argue and create region-specific architecture, and in general promoting a culture of region-sensitive architecture among students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
JournalArchitectural Engineering and Design Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Architecture education
  • architecture
  • modern vernacular
  • vernacular architecture
  • vernacular as renewable resource

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)


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