As the world marches down the path of development, most architects are paying lesser attention to the potential cognitive effects of their creations on its inhabitants. The obsession to design something unique and individual tends to override considerations of how it might shape the lives of its users. This was not the case with the vernacular architecture that was widely practised earlier. Vernacular by definition means using a language or dialect native to a region or country rather than something foreign. This style of architecture is greatly appreciated for successfully  being both socially responsive and environmentally sensitive.


What is interesting about vernacular architecture is that it was constantly replicated and built with minor modifications by the community themselves fitting their unique needs. The concept of appointing architects, who design for you, wasn’t as common as it is today. However, in spite of the growing number of architects today, it is shocking to know that they only design for 2% of the world’s population. Designers are primarily only for the elite who can afford them. It is rightly said by architectural historian Carlos Willis that form follows finance. Willis explains how market formulas produced characteristic forms in each city–“vernaculars of capitalism”–that resulted from local land-use patterns, municipal codes, and zoning. If such is the case, then why does the world need architects?

To quote Cameron Sinclair, “My challenge is to encourage the design profession to respond to the 98% of the world that do not benefit from our services and to foster public appreciation for the many ways that architecture and design can improve lives.”

Thesis Statement: There is a need for a reformed architect that doesn’t create an end product but mediates the collective community effort of building personal spaces through Open Source means.


Thanks to technological networks no longer being limited to software and being integrated with hardware (e.g. Arduino), we are moving closer to the widespread realization of Open Source Architecture. With organisations like Open Architecture Network by Architecture for Humanity already successfully implementing it, this realization doesn’t seem far away. Also, for the true success of OSArch, it is important that architects act as responsible mediators for the community (that will play the collective role of designers).

Open Source Architecture enables inhabitants to control and shape their personal environment. As John Harbraken puts it “To inhibit is to design“.


Theory Readings is a seminarof IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the Masters of Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities 2019/20

Students: Maitri Joy Uka

Faculty: Marziah Zad