Sustainability in the rural built environment : vernacular architecture of the Gezira Area/Sudan
The Gezira area of the Sudan saw the construction of one of the major agricultural schemes in Africa in the beginning of the twentieth century (1925). The construction of this scheme led to a development of two different rural models of settlement: the colonial model established by the British Governors at the time and the traditional vernacular model built organically by the local people; the farmers who are the main stakeholder of the scheme. Through time the local settlements have been subjected to changes in many aspects of housing design and quality. In the Sudan, the need to reorganize the organic villages is a critical issue, but government planning initiatives failed to pay attention to the simple planning issues of the organic settlements within their planning processes. The recognition of the simplicity and humbleness of the rural traditional villages may be itself a merit to those settlements that adapted themselves to changing conditions of many factors such as changing environment, changing socio-cultural behaviour and changing spatial arrangements and persist in competing with the planned organized agricultural scheme, which has exerted influential limitations on their development. These architectural changes - in settlement patterns, structure, and in the external appearance of the local houses - indicate the complexity of their causes. We are trying to understand the changes that the relationships of spaces and society have conveyed. The basic focus will be on the relationship between the socio-cultural factors and the built environment at three levels of development: regional settlement, local settlement and dwelling. To achieve this aim a systematic approach is used to investigate the relationship of socio-cultural behaviour with the built environment as it has evolved in the Gezira area of the Sudan. The analytical approach includes aspects of history and sociocultural factors that could expose the complex relationships between the settlement patterns, houses and their users. A second important feature of this research is its comparative character. The comparative characters of the planned settlement of the agricultural scheme, the organic settlement and the new extension of the organic village may explain the socio-cultural relationships. The research, also, contributes to explain the impact of built environment infrastructures and the planning interventions processes carried out by the Government to organise the organic vernacular settlements on the Gezira settlements. The research explores a wide range of literature and information resources to address these issues and draw a conceptual framework. The Gezira area is taken as a case study as it is characterised by different types of settlements that have emerged within the fabric of a developed agricultural scheme. Data collected for a case study of two space domains representing two types of settlements is used to consolidate the information used in the research. The thesis provides evidence that, working empirically; people are well able to navigate themselves to shape resources nearer to the realisation of their values. Evidence that at least tells us there are many ways in which to make a home meaningful, sustainable and far from rural deprivation. These ways could be reflected within the traditional vernacular architecture.