A look through the postings on this blog should convince you that I sincerely appreciate the modernist architecture developed by Vietnamese architects over that past six decades. But I am actually an architect that is searching for the new architecture that represents the information age -- an architecture beyond the deconstructivism currently in vogue. I hope to write more about this in the near future.
I believe architecture should reflect the society and culture of one's time and circumstances. That is why I believe in Vietnamese modernist architecture so much -- it fits into the the culture and history of Vietnam very well, and has become the predominant architectural style for southern Vietnamese houses. It fits the tropical climate and local materials and methods very well, although there are some internal planning improvements to enhance energy conservation that I think Vietnamese architects should consider.
But there are societies today where traditional architecture, materials and methods continue to make sense today. The story in the New York Times recently about architecture in ancient Yemen presents a culture that has changed little over the decades, partly due to xenophobic isolation. Therefore craftsmen continue to train in the old methods and use the old materials to form spaces that continue to be used as they have been for the millenium.
Although this architecture would make no sense in tropical Vietnam, for example, we could learn much about the sustainability that these old material provide and adapt some of these principles to similar materials used here.
But even Yemen will change with the increasing pace of the information age in the coming years. It will be interesting to see how the Yemeni's continue to adapt this architecture to the inevitable changes to come in their society and culture.