Learning from Experience: The Social Value of Contextually Situated Architecture

By Ben Shacklette.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 27, 2014 $US5.00

The human proclivity for preserving distinctive cultural memories and social practices in vernacular architecture can create distinctive languages of space and form specific to a community, a district, or a city. The built environment can be experienced as a visual narrative constructed using linguistically appropriate and familiar rules, which, like the spoken word, can be learned and practiced. The subject of this study is the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Plaza District of Santa Fe, New Mexico, two of the oldest historic districts in the United States. Both represent a unique and highly distinguishable language of space, form, and architectural detail that express “local” building and living traditions particular to specific peoples. Each city has maintained and perpetuated a cohesive local architecture which demonstrates a situated relationship between society and artifact. Both districts have found social and economic value in the powerful cultural presence created by the survival of a local architecture that corresponds to distinctive and deeply embedded practices.

Keywords: Society, Architecture, Context, Culture, Memory

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 8, Issue 2, August 2014, pp.45-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 27, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.396MB)).

Prof. Ben Shacklette

Professor of Architecture, College of Architecture, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA