Working to conserve and record cultural heritage at risk

The work of the Vernacular Knowledge Research Group at UniSA presents a unique opportunity to incorporate shared interests in built environments research in Southeast Asia, currently concentrating on Indonesia and Thailand, around built cultural heritage and architectural representation, in addition to educating our students. Moving between skill-sets of historical knowledge, immersive on-site measuring while producing architectural drawings and teaching this know-how to students, brings together aspects of the best of academic and professional worlds.

The proposed research and teaching methodologies involve working and learning alongside students and colleagues in the field, to utilise this insight for ways to work with heritage buildings whilst offering contemporary solutions for adaptive reuse opportunities. The capacity to opt for adaptive reuse projects above 'new-builds' also addresses our collective passions of sustainability for the future of the architectural industry.

Internationally in Southeast Asia and nationally in Australia, it has been our experience that there are limited examples of the successful architectural integration of heritage buildings with contemporary functions. This is an area which needs further research and focus in architectural design schools in this region. Appropriate, functional and aesthetic solutions enabling a mix of heritage with contemporary design are necessary for a sustainable approach to future built environments. To expand understandings of the value of eclectic built forms and what they may offer for contemporary requirements through adaptive reuse processes. In this sense, 'heritage' does not necessarily constitute 'old'; it could be a notable built form from the last decade and present opportunities for innovative design solutions for the future.

Our focus

  • Vernacular and neo-vernacular environments
  • Oral traditions
  • Intangible heritage and representation
  • Digital humanities
  • Post-disaster reconstruction
  • Social infrastructure
  • Architectural anthropology and ethnography
  • Tacit knowledge
  • Memory theatres or network analysis for digital collaboration.

Sharing knowledge and immersing yourself in a cultural experience

Dr Julie Nichols, Leader of the Vernacular Knowledge Lab, explains vernacular knowledge and how this research is applied to designing best practice, climate-responsive, human environments.  It is disseminated through curated mixed media for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM).

UniSA Video

Bali VERNADOC 2019

The Bali VERNADOC 2019 International Exhibition at Cush Cush Gallery was the final series of Bali VERNADOC 2019 activities. Held for two weeks in Bali in the Bali Aga Pedawa Village, the conference spent a week carrying out initial measurements and basic depictions, then proceeded to finish the images with ink in the Studio Architecture of the Sudirman Campus in Denpasar. Pedawa Village was chosen as an object because the village's traditional house was already on the verge of extinction, so it was necessary to immediately do a documentary through pictures. Bali VERNADOC 2019 was attended by five countries: Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India. This activity was held through collaboration between the University of South Australia, chaired by Dr. Julie Nichols, and the Udayana University, chaired by Tri Anggraini Prajnawrdhi PhD. The exhibition was officially opened by the Deputy Governor of Bali and witnessed by the Australian Consulate Mr. Drew Bekele, the Head of the City of Denpasar, IAI Bali, the Dean of the UNUD FT and the Caproid PSA UNUD.

Poster for Bali VERNADOC 2019