In Search of “Architectures without Architects”: Crossing West and North Africa in 1978


Vernacular architecture
Local resources
Earthen architecture

How to Cite

Saddi, S. N. (2023). In Search of “Architectures without Architects”: Crossing West and North Africa in 1978. Journal of Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, (4), 222–232.


In 1978, as a young architect with a keen interest in photography, I embarked on a journey of more than three months by car that took me from the Ivory Coast to Morocco. With the aim of rediscovering cultures and traditional architecture in the Sahel and North Africa, this experience raised important questions: how did entire peoples manage to live in harmony with nature before culture was technologized? What lessons can we learn from the way traditional settlements were formed over generations with minimal impact on ecosystems? What design concepts should architects employ to make buildings consume less energy and resources? In short, how can architecture become sustainable?


Fathy, Hassan. 2000. Architecture for the Poor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rudofsky, Bernard. 1964. Architecture Without Architects. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Talib, Kaizer. 1984. Shelter in Saudi Arabia. New York: St Martin's Press.

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