Contemporary Courtyard Houses of Libya: New Directions in Sustainable Housing Development

  • Mahmoud Elwerfalli

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractThe courtyard housing typology has played an important role in various civilisations and geographic areas for centuries. In the Arab world, this vernacular approach was developed to respond to climatic conditions as well as to conform with specific social and cultural norms. Courtyard housing declined in the twentieth century as housing markets favoured contemporary modernist housing designs from North America and Europe. However, the courtyard housing typology has re-emerged in the last two decades as a sustainable design strategy to optimise environmental performance while addressing non-Western cultural and social criteria. This thesis has provided a better understanding of single-family contemporary courtyard housing in Libya by combining concepts of contemporary villas and vernacular courtyard houses to create an entirely new form of housing. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques including site visits, semi-structured interviews and questionnaires, the study involved the analysis of three new developments in Libya: Ras-Lanuf new town, the New Alwaht project in Awjilah and the 5000 Housing Units project in Suluq. The study reveals how the courtyard housing typology has been adapted and modified to address the current housing market and occupants' lifestyles. Contemporary courtyard housing draws on a combination of vernacular and current design strategies to create a comfortable and environmentally friendly built environment. The findings of the study demonstrate how vernacular logics of design are being appropriated to strengthen the cultural aspects of housing design.Adapting this vernacular housing typology demonstrates how designers can benefit from historical architectural strategies. The courtyard housing typology provides novel ideas for implementing sustainable architecture that is socially relevant as well as environmentally responsible. The study suggests that the contemporary courtyard house can play an important role in housing development as a possible new type of dwelling for Libya, the Arab world and beyond. Key words: Courtyard house, Vernacular, Contemporary, Sustainable architecture
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAndrew Karvonen (Supervisor) & Leandro Minuchin (Supervisor)

Cite this