Importance of Self-built Temporary Spaces, Between Traditional and Transitory Architecture: The Saharawi Wilayat in the Algerian Desert


Refugee camps
Temporary settlements
Vernacular architecture

How to Cite

Roccaro , D. (2023). Importance of Self-built Temporary Spaces, Between Traditional and Transitory Architecture: The Saharawi Wilayat in the Algerian Desert. Journal of Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, (4), 294–310.


In an increasingly complex world of climate-related crises, migrations, and forced displacements, the study of spontaneous and temporary self-built settlements in harsh habitats may be of value to the architectural debate. The analysis of the Saharawi camps in the Algerian desert presented here identifies recurrent typological patterns in both domestic and common spaces. The aim of this paper is to analyze these settlements as a structural form of habitation, framing them within the discourse of traditional architecture, while recognizing aspects of ephemerality and emergency provision. The method used was a spatial classification of housing units and settlements in order to identify recurring typological patterns. Our results demonstrate the presence of such patterns and show that, even in precarious and developing situations, principles of traditional architecture apply. By encouraging these practices, we may improve the living conditions of those inhabiting temporary contexts, while also favoring practices that are more sustainable for the environment.


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