Courtyard Housing in Tripoli: Tradition, Modernity and Users’ Perceptions

ELMANSURI, Seham (2018). Courtyard Housing in Tripoli: Tradition, Modernity and Users’ Perceptions. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This socio-spatial study explores the meaning of home in an Arab context. It reinterprets the concept of the Muslim-family home (Arab courtyard-house), in terms of space arrangement/flexibility/use, gender, and privacy. The overall aim is to develop a deep understanding of the meaning of home from the perspective of users in Tripoli-Libya. It explores, therefore, the change and continuity, tradition and modernity in the physical form and use of the courtyard house. It also investigates how the role of the courtyard home influences the daily life of women in Tripoli. Over the past four decades, the courtyard house, once the most common type of dwelling in Libya, has been largely ignored in new housing development. On the other hand, the use of the courtyard house continues to be supported by a minority of architects in Libya, inspired in part by the ideas of Fathy. The opposition of these architects and more generally the ideas of Fathy, raise a series of questions that are the focus of this study: 1) Why has courtyard-housing declined in new development? 2) Can courtyard housing be justified in the present Tripoli? 3) To what extent do modern Libyan homes express points of continuity and change from traditional patterns? 4) How, as part of this, are they embedded into contemporary lifestyles and patterns of family life? To answer these questions, a mixed-method approach has been employed within two stages: the first, socially-qualitatively driven (i.e. questionnaire survey, interviews, focus groups and photoelicitation) and the second, architecturally-qualitatively driven (i.e. space-syntax). The first stage utilized two focus groups – the residents and the architects, conducted as a platform to simultaneously use photo elicitation, and semi-structured interviews. The second stage applied the space syntax to extract more hidden socio-cultural aspects of the Libyan homes (e.g. gender and access control). This study makes a contribution to the home research in a number of ways. Firstly, to the methods of housing user research, as the study utilized mixed-methods that combine the qualitative research with a socio-spatial analysis. Secondly, to understanding the production of courtyard-housing in Arab countries, applying the epistemological frameworks of Lefebvre and the methodological example of Boudon, integrated with the cultural prescriptive approach of Fathy, in an Arab context. In doing so, it provides an original perspective that has, hitherto, received little attention in the literature, particularly within Arab housing studies. Thirdly, to understanding the use of the home from women’s viewpoint. The research has been undertaken from an explicitly female, Arab and architectural perspective. The most subtle characteristics of the Muslim-Arab home, for example, come mainly from its configuration of elements that were tested by people's traditions and culture. It is, therefore, very different from Western writings on the home, including feminist writings of the home, gender and space use. It is also different, however, from Arab studies of the home as these have been undertaken predominantly from a male perspective. Finally, the involvement of a woman as an insider/indigenous researcher provided access to a domestic world that it is not possible for male architects or housing experts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Goodchild, Barry
Additional Information: Director of studies - Barry Goodchild "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Louise Beirne
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2018 10:26
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 13:32

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