Housing design and socio-cultural values in Libya : an investigation of traditional and contemporary housing
Shelter is a basic necessity of life for all human beings. Beyond meeting this basic need shelter should also meet the requirements of their way of life and socio-cultural values; requirements such as privacy, security, recognition of religious considerations and the desire for prestige and status. Traditional forms of shelter are able to meet these requirements but the ability of more contemporary forms to do so is questionable. This can be attributed to imperfect or scarce knowledge on the part of the provide, both with regard to resident's housing preferences and to the factors which determine their satisfaction with the built environment. The result of rapid urbanisation, a common characteristic of most developing countries, is the tendency to apply western technology and building methods without considering the socio-cultural values and needs of the society. It is more desirable to be selective, to choose what is appropriate rather than apply the imported technology wholesale. In the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, development has changed the physical and social contexts of the country. The housing sector in particular has expanded tremendously as a result of the oil economy, while the social life remains largely unaltered. People accept modem architecture, but also wish to preserve their indigenous socio-cultural values and identity. Moreover, contemporary housing differs greatly from traditional architecture with respect to scale, space organisation, layout, land use, architectural style and house type. Indeed, contemporary architecture seems to reflect Western social values and norms and in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has failed to accommodate man's interaction with his environment, particularly in the context of use of space. This research is intended to be a contribution towards modelling and demonstrating the appropriate housing design for Libyan society in terms of the requirement of the sociocultural values. It will specifically examine the existing house design system in two residential areas: a government built contemporary settlement and a traditional settlement, both in Ghadames city in south-west Libya. Data will be collected through different techniques: physical survey, questionnaires, observation, interviews and documents. This will be followed by a comparative analysis of the two settlements (traditional and contemporary) in order to investigate residents' satisfaction with the design of their existing housing in both traditional and contemporary areas. It will also identify their preferences for the dwelling types which satisfy their socio-cultural values and requirements. This study is composed of four interrelated parts. The first part draws on the introduction and background material in order to set out the problems, ideas, aims and objectives, of the housing development. The second part is mainly concerned with the theoretical and methodological groundwork of the research. The third part introduces the case study area and contains the users' evaluation of their housing, traditional and contemporary. The fourth part states the findings and gives recommendations and conclusions.