AUTHOR: Sascha Roesler
CONTEXT: Article for Candide – Journal for Architectural Knowledge, Vol. 8, September 2014.
KEYWORDS: Architectural Ethnography, Architectural Anthropology, Global Construction, Vernacular Architecture
In the course of the 20th century, a number of modern architects developed a form of empirical research that qualified as quasi-ethnographic by mid-century, and has since, due to progressively greater scientific rigor, become genuinely ethnographic. In this essay, Sascha Roesler distinguishes between three forms of architectural-ethnographic representation. He argues that we need to acknowledge the epistemological specificities of this research. In contrast to the widespread notion that ethnographic research in architecture is tantamount to conducting building surveys, Roesler proposes a representational model that sees buildings as cultural “systems of inscription.” He discusses this model with reference to the work of Dorothy Pelzer, Trevor Marchand, and Hassan Fathy.