ISVS-1, the first International Seminar on Vernacular Settlements was held from 3rd-4th August 1999 at the University of Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia, on the theme ‘the role of local Knowledge in the built-environment’ under the guidance of Prof. Gunawan Tjahjono. This seminar filled an intellectual gap that existed in the academic environments by calling upon the researchers and academics across disciplines from architecture to geography to come together to discuss the relevance of vernacular settlements in the modern world. It moved from traditional architecture to vernacular settlements; a broader theme so that multi-disciplinary perspectives could be explored. ISVS-1 attracted 27 papers representing 11 countries and proved to be an attractive proposition. Hence, it was decided to continue the series once every two years, to begin with, in Indonesia.