Contemporary Design as a Tool for Cultural Preservation

Haagenson, Samuel
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The purpose of this project is to create and implement a methodology for using contemporary architectural design as a tool for the preservation of a traditional culture. The term “traditional culture” as used in this project refers to a culture as it existed before being greatly affected or influenced by an outside culture. The Wampanoag Native American tribe provides a good example for demonstrating this term. This tribe, located in what is now considered New England in the northeast United States, had an independently thriving culture up until the early 17th Century when the Pilgrims arrived from Europe. Before this time, the tribe had interactions with other Native American tribes, but the interactions did not drastically change their own culture. However when the European settlers arrived, the Wampanoag culture was affected in a way that greatly changed the peoples’ lives, thus transforming their culture. Although the Wampanoag culture is still a living culture today, the traditional culture is the one which existed up until the arrival of the Pilgrims. The next term to be defined is “cultural preservation.” To preserve a culture is to protect and promote all strands of existence that define a group of people and their traditional way of life. This is not to say that a traditional culture must be “dying” in order to be preserved. This may be possible, but it is more likely that the culture is just not thriving in the same manner as it was before the contact with the outside society at some point in its history. Preserving a culture, therefore, is promoting its continued existence so that information about it is not lost. Although this is an architectural project, it is not focused only on preserving traditional architecture and building methods. The project aims to use architectural design to preserve and promote a traditional culture as a whole. Contemporary Design as a Tool for Cultural Preservation Project Abstract | 1 Samuel D. Haagenson P a g e | 4 Cultural preservation is important for several reasons. First of all, traditional cultures represent a way of life that existed over a long period of history. Understanding history is important to society as a whole in order to advance into the future and avoid repeating mistakes of the past. Secondly, cultural preservation is important for members of the culture, as understanding their ancestors’ way of life gives people a personal connection to their past and an understanding of who they are and where they come from. This is a social and psychological comfort that is an important need of all human beings. Thirdly, cultural preservation is important because it honors human diversity. Many of the problems in today’s world are the result on misunderstanding and intolerance for differing cultures. Honoring this diversity, rather than letting it be a divisive element of society, is taking a step towards making this world a better place for everyone.
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