Syncretistic vernacular architecture Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ben Shacklette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the human endeavor to claim and sustain culturally relevant forms and spaces for living, architecture plays a dual role in defining and dissolving the physical and psychological borders between cultural groups occupying common domains. Santa Fe, New Mexico is a study of the transition from ancient market place to global market economy, balancing the need to sustain authentic internal community life with the necessity for maintaining a tourism industry that sells an ideal authenticity that is marketable to consumers who are external visitors or newcomers. The subject of this paper is the Westside/Guadalupe Historic District, established in 1983. It is the most recent of five regulated historic districts in Santa Fe. The Westside originates from seventeenth century pre-industrial building methods and land use patterns associated with agricultural based societies that in many instances were extended family settlements. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, Westside dwellers blended Anglo and Hispanic customs and attitudes creating a hybrid form of building that is largely the product of owner-as-builder intuition. A predominant characteristic is growth by accretion and modification that often produces an eccentric ad hoc result that can be described as vernacular or folkloric. This paper claims that the Westside community is a relevant example of a self-generating community building process. A complete mapping of the Westside is presented in detailed graphic analysis followed by a series of architectural case studies that document, in measured drawings and analytic graphic detail, significant traditional vernacular building typologies and technologies. This research demonstrates a localized community process of sustainable design through the syncretism of various regional and national influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-175
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2012


  • Community Building
  • Culture
  • Psychological Borders and Domains


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