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Educational offer

High-level training course, 2024 Edition

Vernacular Architecture

Course periodAug 31, 2024 – Nov 8, 2024
Ranking publicationJul 29, 2024
PlacementAnupama Kundoo Architects, Elemental, Manuel Herz Architects, Studio 2111, EQI
Vernacular Architecture


Over the last decades there has been a dramatic break between human intervention and natural environment: the Anthropocene is the first terrestrial era in which human activity has become so significant as to affect the balance of the ecosystem itself.

And yet humans have inhabited the Earth for millions of years, achieving well-being and quality of life without depending on energy-intensive machines or technologies that are hardly sustainable on a large scale.

There is a profound wisdom in the ancient construction techniques, a disarming efficiency in the vernacular traits of poor architecture: from Persian wind towers to Berber architecture, today several past architectural solutions seem more compelling and sustainable than many modern technologies.

To look forward sometimes one has to to step into the past, and this is why the course in Vernacular Architecture was established.

Vernacular Architecture is a holistic and revolutionary educational project integrating the ancient knowledge of vernacular architectural traditions with creative elements and contemporary techniques. By doing so, it creates inspirations that can affect contemporary architecture and, thus, contribute to write a future of prosperity and well-being. Starting from the example of the symbol of human survival in extreme contexts - Siwa Oasis -, students will be provided with several inspirations from a wide range of construction traditions. This will enable them to create a new approach to meet the increasing demand for refined yet low-impact architecture both socially and environmentally. The course will consist of 80 hours of frontal lessons, 32 hours of workshop and several lectures by prominent professionals.

At the end of the course, YACademy’s placement office will provide all students with an internship/collaboration proposal with one of the partner firms.

Course info


Italian & English

translation from Italian into English avalaible
Available places

15 In person
5 Online



Course timeline

31.8.2024 - 8.11.2024

3 days/week
Placement activation

November 2024 - February 2025

Enrollment fee

€ 2900 + VAT

Enrollment fee

€ 9700 + VAT

In person


Full coverage of the enrollment fee for the most outstanding candidates
* it can be split in three installments (with a 6% increase on the total amount)

Teaching modules & Workshops

Siwa in history

The role of the oasis between archeology and legends

The Siwan community

Cultural and sociological connotations

Building with earth

Bricks: between tradition and innovation

Adaptive architecture

The richness of poor architecture

Modern technologies from traditional materials

Research stems from the past

Typological characteristics and urban layout

Vernacular architecture as an aggregation phenomenon

Restoration of vernacular architecture

Traditional architecture as testimonial historical heritage

African vernacular architecture

Hassam Fathy's school

The Nubian compass and Carola's legacy

Arches, domes and thrusting systems

Low-tech and collective consciousness

Communicate and transmit the construction culture

Stone architecture

Techniques and traditions of vernacular culture in Central Europe

The kershef technique

Building with mud and salt rocks

Site Visits


Siwa, Shali and the Temple of the Oracle

Noale furnaces


Special lectures and critiques

Architecture as research and social discipline

Alejandro Aravena / Elemental

Traditional techniques and contemporary creativity: METI School

Anna Heringer / Anna Heringer Architecture

Shelter on the Namibian Skeleton coast

Nina Maritz / Nina Maritz Architects

Wall House: material and formal research

Anupama Kundoo / Anupama Kundoo Architects

The 18th Biennale of Architecture

Lesley Lokko / Lesley Lokko Architect

The barn of Amtoudi: the discipline of restoration in poor architecture

Salima Naji / Salima Naji Architect

Adrère Amellal: vernacular architecture as the new luxury

India Mahdavi / India Mahdavi Architecture

Tambacounda Hospital: earth, colours and light

Manuel Herz / Manuel Herz Architects

Value and significance of Islamic architecture

Salma Samar Dalmuji / Earth Architecture Lab

Contemporaneity among the ruins

Design workshop

Alejandro Aravena + Elemental / Elemental

The workshop will be the practical opportunity to test all the notions provided during the teaching modules and will guarantee strategic solutions to a real architectural project. It will be conducted in collaboration with EQI and the Italian Embassy in Cairo, and it will concern the restoration of the ancient fortress of Shali from an artistic and museum perspective. In accordance with EQI’s guidelines, that has been committed for over 20 years to the restoration and enhancement of Siwa’s historical buildings, designers will have the rare opportunity to imagine the development of one of the most iconic Berber cities in the world, located in an oasis of ancient charm. The aim of the workshop will be to identify developments and plans to consolidate the cultural heritage of the oasis, creating an attractive offer able to attract visitors who - in addition to the natural and architectural allure of the place - may enjoy a wider cultural offer. A museum of archaeology oriented to tell the story of the oasis over time, accommodations spread throughout the site, performance spaces, architectural installations, artist’s studios, services and visitor routes, will all be functions consistent with the purposes of the workshop, where the only limitation will be the identification of solutions that are coherent with the historical and naturalistic value of the site, and which make environmental and social sustainability their strong suit.

Contemporaneity among the ruins

Construction workshop

Construction is a fundamental step in architecture. For this reason, YACademy offers its students the opportunity to participate in the process of producing their own ideas. Thus, the students will gain practical experience on construction sites and, above all, the authorship of projects built for excellent commissions, destined for a major media echo and capable of defining a turning point in their professional career.


At the end of teaching modules and workshop, YACademy’s Placement office will guarantee every student an internship or collaboration proposal in one of our partner studios.




Students or graduates in Architecture/Design can apply to the course. The commission, based on the assessment of the application, may admit students with different qualifications.


To apply, it is necessary to register online and submit a Curriculum Vitae, a Portfolio, and a Motivational Letter. Moreover, it is necessary to pay the administration fee (€60 + VAT). The best 20 candidates will be admitted to the course according to the rules.


By applying for the course, the students automatically become eligible to obtain a scholarship: one will be granted to each of the best 3 applicants for each course, consistently with the Selection Committee's evaluation. Therefore, it is not necessary to make specific actions to apply for a scholarship. The scholarship covers the entire enrollment fee - regardless of the type of attendance chosen -, but does not cover the administration fee (€60 + VAT) that have to be paid in order to complete the application process successfully.


Complying with deadlines is a fundamental requirement to take part in the course. All students are encouraged to pay the utmost attention to the timeline and to complete each phase in advance.

Applications opening

Applications deadline

Publication of the provisional ranking

Beginning of second-round admissions

Enrollment fee payment deadline for students admitted according to the provisional ranking

Publication of the official ranking (including second-round admitted students)

Lessons start


Make sure you have downloaded the course brochure, from which you will be able to obtain any information about YACademy, as well as every single detail on how to access and enrol in the courses.

Rules eng

Regolamento ita

Past editions gallery

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To each one of them, many thanks from YACademy staff and students.

KlimahouseFranchi Umberto MarmiManni GroupAreslineCesare Roversi ArredamentiDe CastelliAmbasciata d’Italia al Cairo

Studying tradition to design the future

Vernacular Architecture

Cover Vernacular

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