Space and the physical surroundings in which we live have an enormous bearing on our comfort and well being. Fortunate are those whose housing and urban environment are compatible with their behaviour and culture. However, relying on chance is insufficient when dealing with such an important aspect of life. The study aims to point the way to a long term solution to the Libyan housing crisis - a crisis not just of numbers, but of relevance of form.
A detailed account of environmental, historical and socio- cultural influences on housing in
Libya is given to set the scene for an examination of the present situation. Modern housing developments follow Western patterns, very different in construction and layout from
indigenous forms. This background study gives a deeper insight to the social effects of such
houses and pinpoints the ways in which they fail to meet the expectations and aspirations of their occupants.
The focus is on comparing the space and form of new homes with the indigenous courtyard houses, whose development was arrested at the time of the Italian occupation. Because most
of the courtyard housing areas are now in a run -down condition, modern and renovated forms
presently used in other cultures, are described to show how they meet certain social and
environmental needs also relevant to Libyan society.
While progress should not be prevented, the direction and pace of change should be given thoughtful consideration. Libya's dramatic acquisition of wealth has caused her to lose the
reins of development. Poverty and hardship of earlier years is not to be commended but it has
been replaced by an alien infrastructure.
Two clear points emerge. Indigenous courtyard housing provides a relevant, appropriate spatial structure but is sadly lacking in modern amenities. Modern western style housing is of
insufficient quality to be durable, requires a high level of maintenance and management and
fails to meet psychological and socio-cultural needs.
Background notes and analysis of the case study are used to bring recommendations for the
way ahead. As well as suggesting a structured network of research establishments to control
standards and investigate needs, the recommendations include examples of houses which
would provide a spatial structure capable of maintaining the culture and traditions of Libyan