Toward the Production of Contextual Built Environments: Unfolding Building Materials’ Sociocultural Meanings in a Maasai Community


Environmental behavior studies
Innovative building techniques
Indigenous communities
Building materials

How to Cite

García Fernández, L. G. (2022). Toward the Production of Contextual Built Environments: Unfolding Building Materials’ Sociocultural Meanings in a Maasai Community. Journal of Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, (3), 361–374.


Is it possible to analyze building materials’ culturally specific meanings? How can understanding such meanings be useful in the integration of sustainable building practices in local communities? Our research explores this question with the objective of informing future pathways in the transition to a carbon-neutral built environment including locally sourced materials. Relying on environmental behavior studies and using Rapoport’s methodology for three-tier categorization of meanings, our study examines sociocultural perceptions and behaviors around the use of building materials. It focuses on the case of a Maasai rural community in northern Tanzania with a view ultimately to shedding light on specific practices and innovations in building materials, such as compressed earth blocks, whose use should be considered by architects and designers in preference to counterproductive or non-contextual techniques.


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