Reviving Traditional Architecture: 5 Eco-Friendly Designs Inspired by Ancient Techniques
An architectural visualization of a path through a colourful meadow, leading to a traditional mediterranean style house. Reviving Traditional Architecture: 5 Eco-Friendly Designs Inspired by Ancient Techniques

The up-and-coming generations (Millennials and Gen Z) are very aware of the concepts of environmental degradation. So, the word sustainability is on everyone’s lips.

Ancient cultures were unbelievably advanced in their sustainable building methods. They met their present needs without compromising the livelihood of future generations.

However, this has changed over time.

Let’s take a look at 5 eco-friendly designs inspired by ancient techniques that can help us build a more conscious world today.

Earth Homes: Modernizing Ancient Mud Construction

Ancient civilizations were incredibly skilled at using their available resources efficiently. Their aim was to prevent as much wastage as possible. And usually, the resources they used were available indigenously, right on their doorstep.

They used techniques such as rammed earth and cob. Which remain relevant today!

Rammed earth is made of damp soil or earth that is compressed into a solid and dense wall structure.

Two ancient villages, Ait Ben Haddou in Morocco and Granada Alhambra in Spain, are constructed entirely out of rammed earth. This provides natural, carbon-emission-free insulation, without an air conditioner and its massive carbon footprint.

Cob is a mixture of subsoil, water, and fibrous material that act as reinforcement, such as straw. Cob walls, in combination with a thatch roof, have an excellent thermal mass.

Both methods hold heat during the day, cooling interiors. And release heat at night to keep one’s house cozy.

Constructing a building or renovating it with these techniques can lead you to acquire a BASIX report certificate. Which is essential in New South Wales.

Passive Cooling: Incorporating Vernacular Techniques for Climate Control

Passive cooling systems have incredible energy-saving potential. Thus, reducing your temperature regulation costs, and being environmentally friendly.

Many modern architectural designs employ the passive cooling systems that ancient civilizations did.

You’re likely familiar with the concept of a courtyard or atrium. But do you know their traditional use? Houses are positioned around a courtyard to create a natural airflow through the building.

This adds to a comfortable and insulated living environment in all seasons.

Wind towers have Persian origins. These structures also maintain the coolness of building interiors. The openings at the top of these towers catch and direct cold air (which sinks) to the lower living spaces. Hot air is then directed upwards and out.

In modern times, this can be seen in houses with roof vents and skylights.

Finally, we have shading devices like awnings and blinds which block direct sunlight during the day. In ancient times, many cultures made cut-outs in walls to dapple the direct light.

Bamboo Architecture: Harnessing the Strength of a Sustainable Material

Adding flora to an architectural design gives it new life. Bamboo is a magnificently versatile plant that can be used as a building tool.

In the past (and present), lower-class citizens of India and China often used bamboo as their primary building tool. Residents who lived in areas that were prone to flooding and earthquakes were great users of bamboo.

Houses constructed of bamboo were lightweight but also durable.

If you visit Bali or China, take a trip to the Green School and the Anlan Suspension Bridge (respectively). Both portray brilliant examples of contemporary architectural projects showcasing the immense strength, rigidity, and flexibility of bamboo.

Bamboo is the perfect eco-friendly sustainable building material. The reasons for this is due to its rapid growth, carbon sequestration, and its waterproof and renewable nature.

Harvesting: Traditional Techniques for Sustainable Water Management

The Romans were the inventors of aqueducts, which developed into what we call greywater recycling in these modern times. Although not built in a day, sustainable water management systems such as this have stood the test of time.

Just as aqueducts conserved water from home sinks, and were used to flush waste and water gardens, greywater recycling runs on the same concept. This recycled water can be connected to irrigation systems. Thus, being a marvel in the realm of water conservation.

Many people seem to assume that water is an infinite resource. However, this is simply not true. Water conservation is vital to maintain a survivable environment for all species, including humans.

You can also do your part in conserving water through rainwater harvesting. Attach a rain barrel to your downspout to start. And then work your way up to installing an underground cistern system.

Green Roofs: Rediscovering Ancient Green Building Practices

We’re all aware of the Seven Wonder of the Ancient World, including the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. These are the very first examples of green roofs dating back to 500 BC.

In those times, green roofs were used for agricultural, dwelling, and ceremonial purposes. After the 1960s, the technology of green roofs was improved, making them waterproof.

And now there are myriad other benefits of green architecture. Green roofs can be used for insulation, biodiversity, improved air quality, reduction of the heat island effect, and an extended rooftop lifespan.

Green roofs also contribute to effective stormwater management. The plants atop one’s roof filter rainwater and release it slowly. Thus, they reduce water runoff that may overwhelm a city’s municipal water systems.