About the VAF

During the past few decades, interest in ordinary architecture has grown rapidly and in diverse directions. Scholars and field professionals apply the term "vernacular architecture" to a range of structures including traditional domestic and agricultural buildings, industrial and commercial structures, twentieth-century suburban houses, settlement patterns and cultural landscapes. The Vernacular Architecture Forum was formed in 1980 to encourage the study and preservation of these informative and valuable material resources.

In both membership and methods, VAF embraces the value of multidisciplinary interaction.  Historians, designers, archaeologists, folklorists, architectural historians, geographers, museum curators and historic preservationists contribute substantially to the organization.  Just as wide ranging are the interests and research subjects of our members. 

If you are interested in learning more about vernacular architecture and in building associations with like-minded students, scholars, and professionals from all parts of the continent and the world, then you should join the Vernacular Architecture Forum today.

You can learn more about the VAF as an organization by exploring these pages. We encourage the formation of regional chapters. VAF members have the opportunity to form regional chapters, and to join our e-mail discussion list.  Members also benefit by receiving our well-regarded journal, Buildings & Landscapes, the VAN a quarterly e-newsletter, and discounted conference registration.

Announcements

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  • 30 Mar 2020 3:35 PM | Zachary Violette (Administrator)

    Hello all,

    I hope you are all healthy and successfully adapting to these new and changing circumstances.  I know many of you are learning new technologies for teaching, others are juggling child or elder care with research and writing, and many are already envisioning new ways to appreciate the landscape while still maintaining distances.  

    After more than a week of research and deliberation, we can now report some of our plans associated with postponing our 2020 Conference. 

    We plan to go forward with one component of our usual meeting, the paper and poster sessions scheduled for Saturday, 9 May.  We have been in touch with the presenters and session chairs, most of whom have agreed to participate.  We will be in touch soon with details about registering for the virtual conference. 

    We will move the rest of the San Antonio conference activities, the planned tours and plenary as well as new paper and poster sessions, to May of 2021.  The Plymouth conference, originally planned for May of 2021 will be postponed to 2022.  We will be in touch soon with the dates.

    We will also move forward with refunding the San Antonio conference registration fees. Registrants will be contacted by treasurer Claudia Brown to explain the refund process.

    I want to thank some of the folks who have been working especially hard as we moved through our decision making:  First to Brent Fortenberry and the San Antonio team for being so patient and generous about rethinking their conference; we all look forward to seeing it next year.  To Ritchie Garrison and the Plymouth team we owe similar gratitude. The Executive Committee, Christine O’Malley, Kim Hoagland, Bill Littman, and Claudia Brown, have all been thoughtful and good humored, as their other duties became more challenging in a rapidly changing situation. The chair of the Papers Committee, Andrew Dolkart, has taken on an array of new tasks, as have many Board members. Michelle Jones, our conference coordinator, stayed in touch even while delayed in Morocco. I have been moved by everyone’s willingness to help.

     

    Take care,

     

    Claire

     

    Claire W Dempsey

  • 14 Mar 2020 10:54 AM | Hayli Reff (Administrator)

    RESCHEDULED

    New England Chapter of the VAF Annual Meeting 

    The Board of the New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum has decided to reschedule the 4 April 2020 VAF-NE Chapter Annual Meeting that was to be held at Old Sturbridge Village.  We reached this decision owing to a concern for the safety and well-being of our members and attendees and the recommendation by health authorities to postpone events and gatherings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

    The new date for the Annual Meeting will be 7 November 2020 at Old Sturbridge Village so mark your calendars!

    We will refund the registration fees and food order monies to anyone who would like them but of course are hoping you’ll just ask them to be held as registration for the newly scheduled meeting. 

    For further inquiries, please email vafnewengland@gmail.com


  • 14 Mar 2020 10:44 AM | Hayli Reff (Administrator)

    Hello all,

    The VAF Executive Committee and the Conference Planning Committee have decided to postpone our San Antonio Conference, originally scheduled for May 6th through 9th, 2020. 

    We are of course very sad to have to do this and want to be sure that Brent Fortenberry, Ken Hafertepe, Clifton Ellis, and all those who have worked so hard on this conference, know how appreciative we are.

    We are at work investigating our options for rescheduling the event for a future year and for rethinking our paper and poster sessions.  We will also arrange for mail-in and/or electronic voting for our annual meeting.

    We will of course be refunding all conference registration payments, with no administration fee.  We encourage you to cancel your hotel reservations. Paper and poster presenters, ambassador advisors, and award winners will be contacted individually to work out the details of their outlay and reimbursement.  We will keep you informed as our plans unfold.

    We are confident that the VAF will pull together during this difficult time and look forward to seeing you at our next gathering.

    Take care,


    Claire


    Claire W Dempsey

    VAF President


  • 04 Nov 2019 7:52 PM | Hayli Reff (Administrator)

    Dear VAF Members:

    The deadline for submitting abstracts for the paper and poster sessions at the San Antonio meeting has been extended to Sunday, November 10. If you meant to send in an abstract but forgot to do it, there is still time.

    Your paper proposal and c.v. should be emailed as a PDF attachment to papers@vafweb.org.

    Submit poster proposals via the Google Form: https://forms.gle/VreUnow27AcPsRag6   Email questions to Brent Fortenberry brent.fortenberry@gmail.com

    For more detailed instructions, see http://www.vafweb.org/Paper-Sessions-VAF-2020



  • 10 Sep 2019 8:46 AM | Hayli Reff (Administrator)

    Opportunities to Serve the VAF

    The nominating committee of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) is seeking nominations for individuals to serve as members of the organization’s Board of Directors. Board members serve three-year terms. Individuals nominated this year, and subsequently elected, will begin service in June 2020.

    The VAF is administered by a volunteer board composed of dedicated professionals and scholars from diverse disciplines who live and work in all parts of the United States and Canada. The Board meets twice a year, once during our Annual Conference in the Spring and again in the Fall. Board members are expected to attend these day-long meetings and participate in committee work throughout the year. 

    The committee also seeks nominations for the position of Secretary to start in June 2020.  Candidates for these positions should be familiar with the organization’s disparate programs and annual conferences and possess organizational skills.

    Nominations should be sent to Christine G. O'Malley at christine@historicithaca.org by October 11, 2019. Nominees must be members of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. Please include a short letter (not exceeding one page) indicating the position for which the person is being nominated and describing their qualifications as well as a short vita/resume (not exceeding two pages). Self-nominations are actively encouraged.


  • 01 Jul 2016 9:41 AM | Amber Wiley

    Got VAFers? Start a Chapter! Receive funds!



    VAF New England members touring Portland Company, June 2016. Photo: Amber N. Wiley.


    Because of the long-term success of the New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum in holding conferences, running local tours, and serving the needs of the regional VAF membership, the VAF board seeks to assist individuals and groups in establishing additional chapters. Seed money is available to nascent organizations composed of VAF members that will promote the forum’s educational mission and institutional goals.

    Chapters should be designed to serve the needs of their constituency, so programming and structure will vary.

    To discuss the process of starting a chapter and applying for start-up funds, please contact Will Moore at moorewd@bu.edu.Information about the VAF’s chapter program is also available at: http://vernaculararchitectureforum.org/Chapters

  • 24 Jun 2016 8:39 AM | Amber Wiley

    The nominating committee of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) is seeking nominations for individuals to serve as members of the organization’s Board of Directors. Board members serve three-year terms. Individuals nominated this year, and subsequently elected, will begin service in June 2017.

    The VAF is administered by a volunteer board composed of dedicated professionals, students, and scholars from diverse disciplines who live and work in all parts of the United States and Canada. Nominations are sought for energetic, insightful, and responsible individuals at all stages of their careers. The Board meets twice a year; once immediately preceding our Annual Conference in the Spring and again in the Fall. Board members are expected to attend these day-long meetings and participate in committee work throughout the year.

    The committee also seeks nominations for the position of First Vice President to start in June 2017. The First Vice President assists the President, chairs the forum’s Nominating Committee, works with Chapters, and oversees the day of papers at the annual conference. Candidates for the position of First Vice President should be familiar with the organization’s disparate programs and possess significant leadership skills.

    Nominees must be members of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. Please include a short letter (not exceeding one page) indicating the position for which the person is being nominated and describing their qualifications as well as a short vita/resume (not exceeding two pages). Self-nominations are actively encouraged.

    Nominations should be sent to William D. Moore at moorewd@bu.edu, preferably before October 1, 2016. 

  • 13 May 2016 12:58 PM | Amber Wiley

    Seeking submissions for VAF sponsored panel to be held at Society of Architectural Historians annual meeting, Glasgow, Scotland, June 7-11, 2017. DEADLINE:  June 6, 2016

    The Global and the Local in Vernacular Architecture Studies

    This Vernacular Architecture Forum-sponsored session invites architectural historians to explore the practical and ethical dimensions of studying vernacular architecture in a global context. How does a broader geographical field challenge and test professional practices and assumptions? Since the 1980s, scholars of the vernacular have developed sophisticated methods and theories that govern their work. From an early emphasis on agricultural landscapes, local culture, and fieldwork, to today’s digital recording and interpretation of real and virtual places, students of vernacular architecture have emphasized method and practice, especially the practice of field documentation. 

    “Vernacular” has long been associated with a world history of architecture. Articles in Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review and in the VAF’s Buildings & Landscapes increasingly display the widening extent of vernacular architecture studies across the globe. The Glasgow meeting presents an excellent opportunity to gather resources and think about the future of vernacular architecture studies. 

    We invite scholars of vernacular buildings and landscapes from around the world to submit proposals that address questions such as: What are the ethics of field documentation? How should scholars of the built environment engage with communities where there is a power differential? Should we encourage Institutional Review Board (IRB) oversight? Are national borders relevant? How do we ensure that our research is systematic and comparative? How can we find evidence that challenges pre-determined claims? What do vernacular methods teach scholars of world architecture in general? We welcome comparative approaches to vernacular architecture across time and place, and encourage proposals from members of other vernacular architecture-based professional associations around the world. In addition to this panel, a VAF-sponsored conference tour will explore local Scottish vernacular architecture.

    Session Chairs: Louis Nelson, University of Virginia, and Gretchen Townsend Buggeln, Valparaiso University

    Using guidelines below, please submit abstract online through the SAH website: https://sah.conference-services.net/authorlogin.asp?conferenceID=5058&language=en-uk

    Submission Guidelines:

    1  Abstracts must be under 300 words.

    2  The title cannot exceed 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

    3  Abstracts and titles must follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

    4  Only one abstract per conference by author or co-author may be submitted.

    A maximum of two (2) authors per abstract will be accepted

  • 13 Apr 2016 3:40 PM | Amber Wiley

    Message from VAF President Gretchen Buggeln:

    As many VAF members know, on March 23, 2016, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed into law legislation known as House Bill 2 (HB2).  The leadership and members of the Vernacular Architecture Forum are troubled by this discriminatory bill. This law overrides local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances and bans transgender people from using certain restrooms.

    HB2 is highly controversial within the state of North Carolina and many citizens are fighting the law. The ACLU of North Carolina has filed a federal lawsuit and the state attorney general is a vocal opponent. Moreover, the city council of Durham, the site of our June 2016 conference, unanimously condemned the legislation:http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/durham-county/article70554782.html.

    Please read this message from Durham City Council Member Steve Schewel:

    "The City of Durham and its people offer a warm welcome to the Vernacular Architecture Forum when you hold your conference here in June--and that welcome extends to everyone including especially members of the LGBTQ community. Our city council and our county commission have both unanimously passed resolutions condemning HB2 for its discriminatory intention and effect. Durham welcomes with open arms all people and recognizes their rights and liberties regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. While our state legislature passes laws that endorse discrimination, Durham stands tall for diversity and equality. We embrace difference in Durham, and we welcome all of you to our city."

    Best wishes,
    Steve Schewel

    Durham City Council

    Councilman Schewel recommends that those wanting to support the opposition to HB2, and the fight for its repeal, can contribute to Equality North Carolina at equalitync.org. They do great organizing work statewide.

    Claudia Brown, Marvin Brown, and their team have worked long and hard to prepare a marvelous conference for us. I urge you all to come to Durham and to spread the VAF’s message of concern and care for communities—their buildings, landscapes, but most especially their people—and our vision of equality, dignity, and justice for all.

    Gretchen T. Buggeln
    President

  • 21 Mar 2016 8:13 PM | Amber Wiley

    The VAF is pleased to announce a call for participation in a student roundtable to take place at the upcoming Durham Conference.  Please see below for details and to get involved.

    What do current students of vernacular architecture have in mind?

    Vernacular architecture scholars are trained in a range of departments and programs, including architecture, architectural history, art history, area studies, history, geography. Thus, the annual meeting of VAF is an important opportunity for such dispersed students to meet up, exchange ideas, and forge professional networks. More than 35 years after the forum's establishment, what can current students do for VAF as future scholars/professionals in this field? In turn, how can the VAF assist in shaping students' careers and their ability to contribute to the field? This student roundtable aims at collective brainstorming about student involvement in VAF. If you are a current student and interested in answering these questions (even if you cannot physically come), please complete a short survey (http://goo.gl/forms/o9Lz0VCVzV) and add your thoughts on Google Doc (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-mKc7vgFhDy_7CSOJlvr415RnbrnGOxfPyp4FOTYZeQ/edit?usp=sharing). For any questions, please contact Yuko Nakamura (PhD candidate in architecture, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) at nakamur4@uwm.edu.

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