Traditions are a very important part of people’s lives. They are defined as a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. Nevertheless, traditions could manifest themselves in different ways, for example through architecture.
Focusing on typical buildings which reflect not only specific traditions of a place, but also localized needs, it is possible to look at what is called vernacular architecture. According to Ronald William Brunskill, a British architectural historian, vernacular architucture is ‘that sort of building which is deliberately permanent rather than temporary, traditional rather than academic in its inspiration, which provides for the simple activities of ordinary people, which is strongly related to place, especially through the use of local building materials, but which represents design and building with thought and feeling rather than in a base or strictly utilitarian manner.
The peculiarity of this form of architecture is the very efficient use of local resources, available energy and materials. According to climate, culture and site there are specific typologies of vernacular buildings. In the region where I live, it is possible to find some examples of vernacular architecture: the Casoni.
The Casoni are traditional houses located in the Northeast Italy. These buildings were already present in the Venetian area before the Serenissima Republic (732 b.C.). The Casoni are made by raw earth bricks covered by white quicklime. The walls are short and thick, and the slopedroof has a wood structure covered by marsh reeds. The sloping roof of the Casone reminds of the English cottages.
The basic function of these typical houses is to protect people from weather conditions. Moreover, the shape is accurately studied so as to respond to local climate. It is also possible to see some features which reflect popular techniques.
Since vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time, today the Casoni have almost completely disappeared. In fact, when Venice became a very important sea power, the richest part of the population started building new typologies of houses. The tradition developed the rural house made by cooked bricks and mostly designed to hold animal. As a consequence, the casoni started disappearing.
Today it is possible to visit a very little Casone which is located in a small city closed to Venice, Vallonga di Arzegrande. This “last Casone” is called Casone Azzurro. It was created about three millennia ago, and it was restored in 2008. People can visit it once a month. Moreover, the Casone Azzurro is actually used as a theatre setting.
So, if you are planning to go to Venice, then do not miss the opportunity to visit this building which is part of our Italian culture!
Goy, R. (2016). Venetian Vernacular Architecture. [online] Google Books. Available at: https://books.google.it/books?id=zeongbkpoCwC&pg=PA127&lpg=PA127&dq=vernacular+architecture+veneto&source=bl&ots=-jfbhTHoVU&sig=tjUe6fwiI6RuPBziG9IWazIRNpo&hl=it&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjop-eLyMXOAhVGAxoKHUBBA30Q6AEIKTAB#v=onepage&q=vernacular%20architecture%20veneto&f=false
Tasca, A. (2016). VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE AND PASSIVE SYSTEMS. [online] Academia.edu.
Available at: http://www.academia.edu/2120612/VERNACULAR_ARCHITECTURE_AND_PASSIVE_SYSTEMS