Echoes of an ancient past : housing for the Zinacantan Maya

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Lewis, Russell D.
Missair, Alfredo R.
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Thesis (B. Arch.)
College of Architecture and Planning
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Echoes of an Ancient PastIn order to produce quality architecture we must neither divest ourselves of the architectural past, nor use a tunnel vision of historic architecture. There are other viable sources of architectural tradition besides those of Europe which are most often focused upon. There exists throughout the world remnants of advanced cultures and surviving vernacular traditions which are potential wells of untapped knowledge. Within their own contexts they are a viable source of information and inspiration. The worlds classical cultures and vernacular traditions are based on centuries of trial and error experimentation. To ignore the results of this experimentation would add to the knowledge man has allowed to escape him over the centuries.As the subject of my thesis I have focused upon one of the classical cultures of the so called new world, the Maya. There presently exists within MesoAmerica physical and socio-cultural remnants of the Mayan culture, including a timeless vernacular building tradition. There is a direct link between this vernacular tradition and the high style architecture of the Mayan classical period, which evolved from the vernacular tradition. It is possible that a contemporary housing form can be evolved from the present Mayan vernacular. This is an effort to improve upon the permanence and aesthetic quality of the existing vernacular architecture; and improve through the use of architecture the condition of life. As a test case I have chosen a rural Mayan community in Chiapas, Mexico and proposed designs for low technology single family dwellings.06