Traditional Versus Contemporary Dwellings in a Desert Environment: The Case of Bechar, Algeria


  • Nawal Benslimane UniversiteTahri Mohammed de Bechar, Algeria
  • Wided Ratiba Biara UniversiteTahri Mohammed de Bechar, Algeria
  • Hocine Bougdah University of Westminster



traditional, dwelling, "ksar", architecture, sustainability, socio-cultural


Traditional architecture has always demonstrated a strong relationship between the buildings and their environment, as these are designed with the climatic conditions and socio-cultural values in mind. However, multiple challenges facing traditional buildings are linked to the ability of communities to sustainably preserve themin an ever changing and very different urban fabric. At a time of great socio-economic change and technological progress, sustainability, both tangible and intangible, means preserving as much heritage as possible, would be an important factor in restoring and preserving the city’s identity.

The traditional “ksour”settlements have proved their environmental and socio-cultural credentials. Given that this dwelling typology is fast disappearing and being replaced by villas and apartments using contemporary production methods and materials, this work aims to compare the two dwelling typologies with a view to test to what extent the latter ones do fulfil their environmental and socio-cultural roles and to identify what lessons, if any, can be learned from traditional settlements.

The research presented here, which was undertaken using a qualitative approach based on case study analysis, is likely to contribute to a better understanding of the design and functioning of the“ksar”, which is a fast disappearing urban dwelling typology.