Colorado vernacular architecture

I have posted a number of times on my interest in critical regionalism:

https://mgerwing.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/think-global-design-local-architecture/

One of the most interesting aspects of critical regionalism may be the use or references to vernacular architectures.  Although Frampton’s essay indicates that the vernacular architecture employed may not be local, it is interesting to examine how the use of a disjunctive approach to a local vernacular might make for a project that at first seems like typical local production and only on a second glance reveals itself as something else.

Any approach similar to that would require the existence of a consistent morphology of vernacular building.  Does this exist in Colorado?

I think there are a few vernacular building types in Colorado:  the metal-clad mining building, the stone miner’s building, the log cabin and the lumber-framed “mountain Victorian”.  (Clearly I am only taking on non-native American building types, that other research is ongoing)

This is maybe a bit simplistic and possibly overly reductive, but at least for the Front Range hills, I think these four types are both significantly distinct and ubiquitous to propose this.

So, over the next couple of weeks, I am going to have a post on each of these types and more importantly, the material dialectic that is imposed, or makes inevitable, each of these types.

If you have any suggestions on additional types or specific buildings, please drop me a line or a comment and I will see if we can integrate that information with current survey.

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2 thoughts on “Colorado vernacular architecture

  1. What’s your take on the use of the orange brick found throughout Boulder and whether that qualifies as a Colorado architecture vernacular? Our 1915 house is crafted of it (though now painted) and I’ve been exploring, and blogging about, the origins of its architectural style for the past few months. Initial research came back as “vernacular.” Would love your expert opinion.

    1. I know much of the brick used in Boulder that is older than the 1920’s was made locally and so reflects the high sandstone content of local clays. That might partially account for the orangeness of the brick.
      As for “vernacular”, that is a generic term when used by folks who do the historical surveys, like the City of Boulder’s Preservation staff. Basically if the building is not a clearly defined architectural style like Queen Anne or Tudor, it is called vernacular. My use of the term is a bit different as you can see from the post. I think “vernacular” should be used when the building reflects local building materials or techniques, forms or usage, not merely because of a lack of an identifiable style.
      I would suggest a little time spent down at the Carnegie Library for Local History if you want to find out more info about your house or neighborhood. Much of their info is also online, but a visit will reveal much more usually.

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