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The winners of the 2018 VEX: Agitated Vernacular Competition has been announced. The competition sought new definitions of vernacular, with designs that are mutable, inventive and capable of self-renewal. Six designs have been selected with over $8,000 awarded to the winners by the Association of Siamese Architects (ASA).

Selected from over 230 applications from nearly 30 countries worldwide, the six projects are from the Netherlands, India, China, Poland and Thailand. This year’s jury includes Manuelle Gautrand, David Van Severen, Yung Ho Chang, Jakub Gardolinski and Luke Yeung.

Read more about the designs below:

“Progress, Death, Assemblage and Life”: Michael Daane Bolier and Dorus Meurs, Netherlands

Vernacular building - once passed on from generation to generation - will lose its cultural use and meaning. Architecture - an invention of the metropolis - will be all that survives. This project accepts this fate and proposes to salvage vernacular building through the only system of thought still possible. It rethinks vernacular building through the logic of its metropolitan antagonist - Architecture.

Through the assemblage of Mies van der Rohe's seminal work and a selection of vernacular buildings from all over the world new dialectical images emerge. This in turn can infuse architecture with new possibilities and horizons for an urban future. The wind catchers and Yakhchal added to the Neue Nationalgallerie provide a cool draft and finally resolves the paradox of freedom underlying its plan. The set back Tibetan slate walls of the Lake Shore Drive apartments function as a trombe wall and provides a placebo for the yearn for enclosure and identity. The inserted Sumba Rumah Adat in the Farnsworth House provides shelter from the oppressive heat and enables to slouch in the shade. Whereas the mid-west sheds turn the sublime negative space of Lafayette into a productive landscape fulfilling its promise of urban arcadia.

"Loca(l)motive": Vignesh Harikrishnan, India

Indian Railways, which had a modest beginning in 1853, has since then been an integral part of the nation - a network of 121,407 kilometers and 7,349 stations that have held together with a population of one billion. A self-propelled social welfare system that has become the lifeline of a nation, Indian Railways has woven a sub-continent together and brought to life the concept of a united India. Given its strength to connect people and resources, what if this modern marvel could carry the very soul of India across its land?

Loca(l)motive is an attempt to understand the primary questions of what is local and what is modern. With a vast expanse of local wisdom and knowledge resources in the Indian Subcontinent, the idea explore ways of not immortalising vernacular and making it inaccessible but rather to put it into use.

Connecting the masons of Auroville to the Potters of Dharavi, Mumbai to help reconstruct the school of Sri Lankan refugees in Chennai through a medium that is not static for vernacular architecture but a lab that runs, settles, learns, shares craft, builds and honks.

"Vernacular Spectacular": Zhifei Xu and Anthony Lam, China

The dome is the main instigator of the design but it is freed from its original function, context and iconographic definition. Different from the monumental scale, centrically, serenity classical models of the dome, here the dome act as human-scaled, vernacular and scattered individual living units. The mixed play between the traditional and contemporary use of domes gives possibilities associated with architectural history and context, while also setting it free as a typology away from any of these. It is how we use architectural history to create something new, conceive flexibility as a typological enigma, or to say, achieve spectacular through vernacular.

"Urban Memory Parasite": Fanbo Zeng, Nan Jiang, Jianhua Lei and Xianhui Bu, China

The design expresses the continuation and innovation of the two aspects of vernacular architecture: First, the spatial form. We believe that every kind of vernacular architecture has its own unique spatial form, so the inheritance of it can bring to people the memories and the imagination of the original buildings. Second, the structure: The structural integration with the modern architecture is a way to create new possibilities for vernacular architecture , thus to realize the evolution and transformation of vernacular architecture itself.

In our design, we have chosen several kinds of spatial form of vernacular architecture as shared units, and put them into high-density cities. Based on their own characteristics, these units continue to develop new functions. The space functions inside may differ from the original building, but the adaptability to climate, the sustainability, the locality of material, and the cultural spirit are all inherited. The exterior structure continues the original form of the roofs and walls of the vernacular architecture to support the new modern functional spaces, which goes out of the "box" and gives "breathe spaces" to the future cities.

"Make the Forest Grow Again": Marta Lata, Dobrochna Lata, Agata Czechowska and Mateusz Pietryga, Poland

We should re-discuss vernacularism especially in cities. Our habitat now is much different than before. Most people live in the surroundings that are not natural. In the past architecture was a result of needs. It was born in context, raised by local people. Today so called vernacular buildings are in fact false. Building timber cottages in the metropolis won’t be vernacular because the context is no longer a forest.

In cities there is a lot of waste of transient industries, and urban trash. Unused machines, buildings and roads that have changed routes as well as structures that have lost functions. These elements are part of the modern landscape. Reusing them can make cities different, give them identity, and create traditions. It is already happening today in architecture made not by architects, when the economic situation makes them used waste for the city. We are talking about slums that formally are surprisingly similar to vernacular homes of ancient peoples. We need to stop constant production. Not everything should be new and shiny - every element that we put in our environment stays. Today’s vernacular has a new mission that it didn’t have before. It should not any longer derive from natural surroundings because eventually it will destroy nature. It should heal the environment instead. Make the forest grow again.

"Loy Kratong Revival": Vitchapol Taerattanachai, Thailand

In Thailand, there is a beautiful ritual that happens once a year called Loy Kratong. On the full moon of November when the ritual is performed, people set off 'kratong', a decorated floating banana stem, making a wish as they do so. Due to the rapid growth of population, the kratongs in just Bangkok number over 800,000 pieces, which severely harms the environment.

In this project, Loy Kratong is reinterpreted and located at Victory Monument, Bangkok. The reinvented kratong is made of clay and embedded with plant seeds. The kratong eventually erodes and after a few days, the water eventually evaporates, and seeds sprout. The ritual space of the Victory Monument becomes a green space.

The architectural design changes the effects created by the kratong by taking benefits of tradition to create interactive architecture. It serves as architecture for Loy Kratong that can be considered as a new vernacular of this region. It reflects the tropical climate, traditional Thai architecture as well as a new strategy for a modular system.

Project descriptions via


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