Nezar AlSayyad is a Professor of Architecture, City Planning, Urban Design, and Urban History. Among his numerous grants are those received from the U.S. Department of Education, NEA—Design Arts Program, Getty Grant Program, the Graham Foundation, the SSRC, and a Guggenheim fellowship. His awards include the Pioneer American Society Book Award, the American Institute of Architects Education Honors, and the Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest honor the University of California bestows on its faculty.
In 1988, AlSayyad founded the area of Environmental Design and Urbanism in Developing Countries (EDUDC) at Berkeley, an interdisciplinary area of research and practice that connects history, theory, social processes, and design, and in the same year he also co-founded the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE), a scholarly association concerned with the study of indigenous vernacular and popular built environments around the world. Also AlSayyad also maintains a small architecture and urban design practice XXA- The Office of Xross-Xultural Architecture which provides design and consulting work to various clients in the US and several Developing Countries.
The changes that the world has undergone over the past two decades have created a dramatically altered global order which requires a new understanding of the role of traditional settlements in the reconstruction of history. Using a model which is based on recognizing the historic inevitability of dominant relationships between the so-called First and Third Worlds, this paper will review the different historic phases relevant to the study of such traditional settlements: the insular period, the colonial period, the era of independence and nation building, and the present era of globalization. Four accompanying settlement forms – the indigenous vernacular, the hybrid, the modern or pseudo-modern, and the postmodern – are identified and analyzed in relationship to their historic contexts.
The paper also examines the evolution of the concept of national identity and its use in understanding the changes that traditional settlements have undergone. It suggests that the condition of hybridity introduced during the colonial period have reconfigured indigenous forms. It also suggests that the influences of modernity that accompanying nation-building and independence movements have resulted in the reinvention of various traditions. The paper explores the notions of the manufacture of heritage, the consumption of culture and the end of end of tradition, all important ideas that have structured the debate about vernacular practices around the start of the millennium. It concludes that in the era of globalization the forms of settlements are likely to reflect rising levels of awareness of the ethnic, racial and religious associations of the communities within which they exist.
****All interested are welcome****