Learning from bioclimatic desert Architecture: A case study of Ghadames, Libya




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Book chapter

Peer reviewed



This chapter illustrates the use of mixed methodological strategies combining both quantitative and qualitative approaches. These include surveys, interviews, observational techniques, architectural modelling, computer simulation and physical measurements. These methods are all illustrated using a Libyan case study as an example of bioclimatic desert architecture. Energy usage in domestic buildings is responsible for approximately 31% of the total energy consumption in Libya, with the provision of comfortable space conditions forming the major part of this consumption. Contemporary buildings in Ghadames, Libya adopt air-conditioning systems, which have been recognised as energy-intensive solutions in hot climates. In addition, traditional buildings embrace sustainable features and employ natural ventilation systems to minimise energy consumption. The proposed methodology allows contextualising technical work on thermal comfort, architectural modelling and computer simulation under hot climatic and distinctive sociocultural conditions. It also reviews the results from field surveys undertaken in 2013 and 2014. It shows how 100 residents of Ghadames responded to the environmental conditions and personal well-being, and how such data, together with objective surveys, interviews and observation, can inform architectural modelling, giving a full understanding of the building’s dynamics, explaining the compactness of traditional houses’ urban morphologies, and demonstrating the sociocultural and environmental aspects of the design. These buildings are then tested using computer simulation with EnergyPlus to evaluate the environmental performance and show good agreement with the actual measurements. It was through the use of surveys and interviews that sociocultural attributes could be deciphered and complemented by the physical measurements taken, together developing the new conceptual framework for future housing design.



Research methodology, Bio-climate, Arid climates, Sustainability


Taki, A and Alabid, J (2016) Learning from bioclimatic desert Architecture: A case study of Ghadames, Libya. In: V. Ahmed, A. Opoku and Z. Aziz, Eds. 2016. Research Methodology in the Built Environment: A Selection of Case Studies. Routledge: London.


Research Institute

Institute of Architecture