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TRADITIONAL DWELLINGS AND SETTLEMENTS REVIEW

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Volume 5.2

ECOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY OF TRADITIONAL DWELLINGS
Gérard Toffin
The dwellings of traditional societies generally respond to numerous determinants: ecological, economic and cultural.  Recent research has emphasized this interdisciplinary approach and has given priority to interactions between these different factors.  Through the use of examples drawn from various regions of the world, this article illustrates how this multiple perspective makes it possible to go beyond deterministic approaches, which are both outdated and oversimplified.  This multiple-perspective approach helps to throw new light on a particularly complex area of study.  In addition, the article attempts to show the ways in which the traditional dwelling is not just an isolated element within culture, but is a part of a system of symbolic representations which give it meaning.  The dwelling thus appears as an object central to anthropological and ethnographic study.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU BUILD:
ARCHITECTURE AS IDENTITY AMONG THE BAMILEKE OF WEST CAMEROON

Dominique Malaquais
Among the Bamileke people, architecture plays a critical role in the construction of social identity.  Human beings and their dwellings are linked in a symbiotic relation, at the heart of which stands one fundamental concern: the acquisition of status.  In the following pages I address one aspect of this relation — the manner in which quests for social recognition, wealth and prestige are articulated in the ornamentation of men’s meeting houses.  My analysis throughout focuses on one specific architectural element known as the “stomach of the house” and on the manner in which this element is associated with the human stomach - the seat of a man’s identity.

INTERPRETING THE LANDSCAPE OF THE MALTESE ISLANDS
Conrad Thake
The Maltese islands, located at the heart of the Mediterranean basin, have throughout their history been ruled by various foreign powers.  This paper analyzes the morphology of the local physical environment as a discontinuous historical process, based on the assimilation of urban typologies from both European and Arab contexts.  The Maltese landscape is unique in its superimposition of the mutually distinct Islamic and European Baroque urban traditions.  The historical transformations of the built environment are interpreted as a product of the intricate and complex dynamics of secular and religious powers.  This case study concludes with a conceptual methodological paradigm for interpreting traditional landscapes within the Mediterranean.

BUILT FORM AND RELIGION: UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES OF JEDDAH AL-QADEMAH
Tawfiq M. Abu-Ghazzeh
The emergence of Islam around the beginning of the seventh century had a major effect on the lives of the people of the Arabian Peninsula.  As their ways of life changed, so did the organization of their built environment, ultimately leading to the concept of the Islamic city.  Since, the location of the homeland of Islam away from non-Islamic occupiers has allowed the original form of Islamic dwellings and settlements in the region to remain more or less intact.  This paper explains the principal values of the Islamic faith and their effect on the structural development of the historical city of Jeddah, called Jeddah Al-Qademah.  The compact layout of this city in present-day Saudi Arabia once served a pedestrian circulation system and was characterized by public and private spaces that responded to newly emergent Islamic traditions.  The built form of Jeddah Al-Qademah also had a strong local identity that reflected the pre-Islamic inhabitants’ cultural customs and living norms.  Although living conditions in Saudi Arabia are much changed today, the Islamic religion still plays a role in people’s lives.  A vast architectural heritage remains in Jeddah Al-Qademah which may provide a more satisfactory basis for contemporary city design than many concepts now being implemented.

ARCHITECTURE WITHIN THE FOLK TRADITION:
A REPRESENTATION FROM BANGLADESH

Saif Ul-Haq
The roots of traditional Bangladeshi architecture are dug deep into the psyche of the common people.  In a land where poetry and philosophy are inherent in every man, comprehension of this architecture cannot be complete with only a partial analysis or a formal viewpoint.  The social dimension of the architecture and the user’s perspective are very important in this regard.  In the case of the traditional Bangladeshi built environment, the user is also the designer, builder, landscape specialist, artist and craftsman.  However, he is not the concept-giver.  To grasp the reasons for design decisions, a participatory methodology opens up new avenues of exploration.  This article aims to present such a view.  Its analysis of the Bangladeshi vernacular archetype from a lay perspective adapts the work of Bangladeshi architect Rabiul Hussain.