Characteristics of Vernacular Dwellings in Lao PDR

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Vira Anolac


Lao PDR is composed of 68 diverse ethnic groups.  From the north to the south, the country can be organized into three different groups: lowland, upland, and highland.  Different settings have diverse influences on vernacular dwellings due to weather conditions and geographical terrains. The identity of lowland Lao (Lao Loum), upland (Lao Theung), and highland (Lao Soung) is based loosely on the altitudes of their settlements.  Vernacular dwellings correspond to their geographical settings.  Dwellings in upland and highland Laos share similar physical characteristics. The high-pitched roof is suitable for environmental conditions and material use.  Lowland Lao dwellings are built on stilts to escape flooding from rice paddies. Dwellings on stilts reflect rice farming culture. This article aims to provide an overview of vernacular dwellings in Laos PDR in order to explain different influences that have shaped and created diverse physical forms and spatial arrangements reflecting underlying socio-cultural conditions.


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Anolac, V. (1). Characteristics of Vernacular Dwellings in Lao PDR. Journal of Mekong Societies, 2(2), 39-53. Retrieved from