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Erin Feeney: 2007-08

Mission Statement

Humans live in a predominately self-constructed environment, though some cultures still maintain a strong connection with the natural environment. By reconnecting with vernacular building traditions that respect and are inspired by nature, an architect can gain valuable knowledge regarding structure and environmental response. This knowledge serves as a bridge between the fields of design and construction, creating sustainable architecture that meets functional needs without compromising environmental resources. My interest in architecture has always been inspired by my passion for resource conservation and environmental stewardship. As a future architect and leader in sustainable design, my design solutions must be able to serve communities, assert cultural identity, and be sustained by natural resources.

My intention in applying for the 2007 Keegan Fellowship is to encounter vernacular architecture of regions around the world which are threatened by the homogenizing forces of globalization. Through independent travel and observation, as well as work with international non-profits promoting humanitarian and environmental architecture, I hope to learn from traditional architecture directly through interaction with local communities. While living and working in each community, I will focus on their use of local materials, responsiveness to the environment, cultural influences, architectural function, and construction methods, as well as commonalities and disparities with other architectural traditions. Only through personal knowledge of a region's cultural and environmental needs can the relationship between these factors and vernacular architecture be truly understood. The Keegan Fellowship would advance my education beyond my academic study of architecture begun at Vanderbilt, exposing me to international perspectives on the role of architecture within cultural and environmental contexts.


August-Early September: Europe

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Paris, France - OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
  • Munich, Germany - Passivhaus movement
  • Malmo and Stockholm, Sweden
  • London, UK - meeting with modern firms and companies working on sustainable design

Mid September-December: South America

  • Ecuador with Mana Project International
  • Lima, Peru
  • Argentina with Global Ecovillage Network and GAIA
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Curitiba and Brasilia, Brasil - Sustainable urbanism

Early January: Mexico

  • natural building project

January-February: Africa

  • Tanzania

March: Central and Southeast Asia

  • India
  • Bangladesh-Grameen Bank
  • China
  • Thailand
  • Laos
  • Vietnam