This book introduces students, professionals and the general public to the architectural achievements of diverse cultures outside the Euroamerican tradition. Rather than concentrating on geographic or chronological categories, however, the authors have arranged their subject matter thematically in order to focus on the basic needs common to all human communities.
The book is divided into five major sections, each of which deals with vernacular as well as monumental structures. These five topics are discussed in terms of particular architectural solutions, comparing and contrasting geographically separated buildings and construction traditions. For example, the issue of architectural meaning is studied through symbolic gardens in China, verbal ornament in the Islamic world, and the wall paintings of Ndebele women of southeast Africa. Theoretical issues related to particular building traditions are illuminated by these juxtapositions.
Traditions in Architecture begins with an investigation into the ways in which the continuity of traditional forms is maintained. Next, the authors explore practical issues such as housing and food structures, climate and ecology, building materials, and architectural forms and methods. Architectural goals and purposes, which determine what is built, vary from culture to culture and are given special attention. Planning and design ways in which space is used in patterns of organization constitute a discussion ranging from urban plans to landscaped settings. The text concludes with an examination of cultural values, investigating the interaction between architecture and social relations, traditional theories, decision-making, and the economics of building.