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Essay on Vernacular Architecture: Hebridean Black House

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Hebridean Black House
The Black House located on the Hebridean islands of Scotland’s west coast stand for one of the earliest type of house forms of this region. This entire region has substantially high levels of humidity as a result of the maritime climate. Although the temperature in winter is generally moderate, the moisture in the air and the mist give the impression of cold weather. However, the predominant climatic factor are the prevailing westerly winds, influenced by the Atlantic ocean. Most exposed coastal areas can encounter force 8 winds for most of the winter season and therefore heavy solid materials are promoted in such climates, stone being the commonly accepted choice. Due to its durability, most vernacular buildings which are constructed of stone managed to live through these harsh conditions till this day.
The Black house’s basic form is that of a long and narrow rectangular room with two separate levels. The higher elevated end serves as the living space for the family while the lower area is used to shelter the owner’s cow. This difference in level, along with the slight incline of the floor, ensure that any rain water or animal manure drain outwards and away from the living quarters. The division of the areas was merely made by a low stone wall. The entrance of the black house is through one low door, which opens into the area reserved for the cow. These dwellings do not contain any windows or chimneys, but light penetrates inside the house through two small holes at the bottom of the roof. The door is used simultaneously with these small apertures to allow a small amount of ventilation to fuel the fire which lies at the centre of the room.
In this region, builders are quite limited on resources since ...


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...rom http://www.nickladd.com/downloads/Essays_on_the_vernacular.pdf
Little, B., & Morton, T. (2001). Building with earth in scotland : Innovative design and sustainability. Retrieved from http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/156686/0042109.pdf
Ministry of Tourism of Mongolia. (2002). Mongolia information. Retrieved from http://www.asia-planet.net/mongolia/culture.htm
Ness Historical Society. (n.d.). The ‘Blackhouse’. Retrieved from http://www.c-e-n.org/blackhouse.htm
Oliver, P. (Ed.). (1997). Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World (Vols. 1 - 3). New York, NY : Cambridge University Press.
The Drachman Institute. (2008). House form and culture. Retrieved from http://www.drachmaninstitute.org/sites/default/files/House_Form&Culture.pdf
Wright, K. (2005). Traditional Mongolian ger. Retrieved from http://www.bioregions.org/pdfs/GerOwnersPamphlet.pdf


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