Learning from Commercial Vernacular Building Types: A North American Case Study
journal article

A substantial literature exists on commercial vernacular architecture in North America. This literature has examined everyday places and iconic building types including suburbia, roadside motels, vintage diners, fast food franchises, residential trailer parks, signage, unique commercial establishments, and shopping malls. These places and buildings are generally classified as expressions of folk vernacular culture. In response, Attention Restoration Theory, an environmental cognition perspective based in human information processing research, provided the foundation for an investigation of the food truck/ trailer and its immediate installation context within a North American case study context. Visual documentation, interviews, and archival fieldwork provided the basis for the articulation of a typology. These structures were found to express automaticity, as satisfying the timeless human preference for association with nature, a sense of psychological respite, and as a physical setting visually distinct from its larger urban environment context. Directions for future research on this topic are outlined together with insights for application by architects and urban planners.


Commercial vernacular typology; environmental psychology; preference theory; urban design

Verderber, Stephen. "Learning from Commercial Vernacular Building Types: a North American case study." International Journal of Architectural Research: ArchNet-IJAR [Online] 10, no. 2 (29 July 2016): 22-37. http://www.archnet-ijar.net/index.php/IJAR/article/view/962
Parent Publications
Stephen Verderber
United States
urban design
vernacular architecture