The socio-cultural architectural features of vernacular and contemporary dwellings for sustainable desert dwellings design in southwest Libya

El-Hassi, A 2018, The socio-cultural architectural features of vernacular and contemporary dwellings for sustainable desert dwellings design in southwest Libya , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Southwest Libya is one of the most important desert regions in Libya with its significant historical oases and towns. This region is characterised by the unique design of vernacular desert dwellings, with a rich architectural heritage and a remarkable convergence of cultures from the locals in the region. The nature of these dwellings is founded on the harmonious blend between architecture and people, which has formed its architectural identity over centuries. However, in recent decades, the vernacular architecture of desert dwellings, which were sustainable for many centuries, is no longer able to keep up with the contemporary lifestyle for different generations. The vernacular architecture of desert dwellings and the architectural landscape in Southwest Libya face several serious challenges. These challenges include rapid changes to the building of contemporary dwellings with ‘modern’ trends for desert dwellings. Such trends have led to transformative patterns of socio-cultural life, which have recently resulted in the distortion of the architectural landscape of the region.

Southwest Libya has experienced defects in desert-dwelling designs in terms of the lack of compatibility of those dwellings with the socio-cultural needs of the locals, including a lack of harmony with the architectural identity and patterns of contemporary life. This is in addition to the distortion of the architectural landscape of historical towns, which is caused by the rapid intercalation of imported contemporary architectural trends into the socio-cultural features of the region. This condition is worsened by the fact that the current desert dwellings are, nevertheless, still designed and implemented as a result of the same trends, causing problems in meeting the requirements of socio-cultural sustainability for the locals.

Through the literary reviews it turned out that there is a great lack of consideration of aspects of social and cultural sustainability in Southwest Libya, and, in general, it is the aspect that is explored the least in the prevailing literature. This research highlights the absence of social and cultural sustainability considerations in the design of contemporary desert dwellings in southwest Libya. This research examined the levels of satisfaction of different generations, regarding both vernacular and contemporary desert-dwelling designs. Particular focus was placed on the views of the new generation with respect to architectural identity and contemporary lifestyle. In addition to, investigate the views of professionals and architects on the advantages and disadvantages of both vernacular and contemporary desert dwellings design as well as the socio-cultural features of sustainable desert dwellings design, including the issue of architectural identity and identity changes for young generations.

Data is collected through mixed-methods techniques: questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Three historical towns Ghadames, Sabha and Ghat in Southwest Libya are selected which are distinguished by the unique vernacular architecture expressing the identity, diversity and cultural heritage of its people as the case study.

The findings of the questionnaire showed different levels of satisfaction of the respondents with respect to the social and cultural sustainability features for both vernacular and contemporary desert-dwelling designs, most of which refer to levels of satisfaction with vernacular dwelling designs in terms of traditional values and cultural heritage; the levels of satisfaction with contemporary dwelling designs were about features that relate to the contemporary lifestyle. The findings also showed the new generation’s response levels for architectural identity, architectural heritage, and contemporary lifestyle, as well as the preferences and desires of the population. The findings of the interviews showed an in-depth understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of desert dwellings design. The features highlighted the socio-cultural sustainability of both vernacular and contemporary desert dwellings in Southern Libya, which integrated and synthesised later with the findings of the questionnaire.

A set of guidelines was then formulated, based on the integration of the findings of the questionnaire and interviews with the lessons learned from vernacular architecture and the advantages of contemporary desert dwellings, to represent the fundamental points towards socio-cultural sustainability in desert dwellings design in Southwest Libya to increase residents’ satisfaction with the design of their dwellings which fulfil their social and cultural needs. In addition to the most important steps to be taken by the relevant authorities to promote cultural identity and preserve the architectural identity, especially for the younger generations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Elkadi, HA (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Funders: Ministry of Higher Education, Libya
Depositing User: Anwar El-Hassi
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2018 12:48
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:10

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