VAF-SAH Collaboration Highlighted in Glasgow in June

08 Jul 2017 11:15 AM | Christine R Henry

by Gretchen Buggeln

Since the fall of 2015, the VAF has been an official partner organization of the Society of Architectural Historians. The program at the recent SAH annual meeting in Glasgow, Scotland (June 7-11, 2017), presented ample evidence of this collaboration!  

Arijit Sen (VAF member, director of the innovative Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Field School at the University of Wisconsin) and Iain Anderson (Historic Environment Scotland) co-moderated a lively roundtable, “Reassessing Fieldwork Methods in Architectural History.” Speakers included VAF member Jeff Klee, and many VAFers were present and contributed to the discussion on a topic near and dear to our hearts. A local Historic Environment Scotland project inviting the public to submit images and stories about their favorite places raised interesting questions about “crowdsourcing” building history and the ethics of censorship of architectural history.

The VAF co-sponsored a paper session, “The Global and the Local in Vernacular Architecture Studies,” chaired by Louis Nelson and Gretchen Buggeln. Speakers were Finola O’Kane Crimmins, who compared the landscapes of Co. Carlow, Ireland with those of St. Simon’s Island, Georgia; VAF member Veronica Aplenc, who presented her work on the Slovenian Vernacular in the city of Ljubljana, both before and after the rise of socialism; and VAF member Yuko Nakamura and her collaborator Kosei Hatsuda, who spoke about the temporary black market structures in Japan and the problem of defining the vernacular in a Japanese context.

Kenmore, a model estate village at entrance to Taymouth Castle at the eastern end of Loch Tay, an example of the planned villages built for tourists by estates across the highlands. A broad square lined with estate cottages and an estate inn.

A highlight of the conference was the Sunday, sold-out, post-conference tour, “Urban and Rural Vernaculars: Burgh, Village and Longhouse.” The VAF initiated and co-sponsored this tour. Our leader was Daniel Maudlin (Professor of Modern History, University of Plymouth), who enthusiastically introduced the participants to Scottish buildings and landscapes he knows well, including the burgh and cathedral center of Dunblane, the Victorian tourist village of Kenmore, and a fabulous preserved longhouse.

 At Moirlanich Longhouse, a traditional Scottish “blackhouse” featuring a cruck frame, interpreted by the Scottish National Trust to reflect rural life in the early 20th c.

In addition to these three programs, VAFers spoke on other panels and persistently asking the questions of context, community, historic fabric, and preservation that mark our work. We also noted that three of the 2017 SAH publication awards went to VAF members: the Downing Award to Richard Longstreth, for Looking beyond the Icons: Midcentury Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism (Virginia, 2015), and the Kostof Award to two of our members, Marta Gutman, for A City for Children: Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of Oakland, 1850-1950 (Chicago, 2014) and Sarah Lopez, for The Remittance Landscape: Spaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA (Chicago, 2015). Congratulations to Richard, Marta, and Sarah!

All of the above events, interactions, and awards indicate a warm and productive intellectual collaboration between the members of both organizations, and we look forward to seeing more of the same at the SAH meeting in St. Paul next April.

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