Cultural Arguments on Local Settlement and Construction Typologies for Regionalist Technological Innovation in Nefta (Tunisia)

Nava, C., Quattrone, G., 2009. Cultural Arguments on Local Settlement and Construction Typologies for Regionalist Technological Innovation in Nefta (Tunisia). In: S. M. Fortea & J. Al-Qawasmi eds., Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development. Proceedings of CSAAR 2009 Conference, CSAAR-The Center for the Study of Architecture in the Arab Region, Tripoli 3-5 November 2009, pp.117-134, ISBN 978-9957-8602-8-8


In the hypothesis of Tunisian oasis towns preservation, the paradigm of innovation goes beyond the mere couple innovation-evolution and relates to rehabilitation and transmission of traditional construction techniques, local practices and widespread sustainable actions, adaptability of natural systems to man’s use, behaviours and operation modes. Nefta, an oasis town of South Tunisia, has been investigated as a case-study in relation to: 1) the hypothesis of starting innovative management processes of local urban and landscape structures. These are seen as highly recognizable and rooted living places, able to improve their accommodation capacity and economy; 2) the potential of disseminating innovative design practices through use of building systems made of clay. This is a locally available resource thought of as still being able to orient low-impact environmental design and construction, so that local communities can still pass on tradition, while adapting it to new demands.

The innovation of the local technical culture through an environmental, technological and typomorphological-regionalist approach can guarantee a new way of addressing design, from landscape to detail, in oasis towns that still live on their people’s strong resistance to the harsh and inhospitable desert environment. Experiences carried out in other geographic contexts show that it is possible to export a qualifying model and process, rather than a design theory, to deeply rooted settings, such as Nefta, through a technical culture that is renewed by the reinvention of traditional materials and techniques.


  • Regionalism
  • Innovation and tradition
  • Vernacular architecture
  • Settlement and dwelling patterns
  • Built environment and human behaviour
Author(s) Consuelo Nava
Giamila Quattrone
Country Libya
Language English
Subject Vernacular Architecture
Area covered Tunisia
Publisher CSAAR
Publication date 2009
Type Conference Proceedings
Pages 117-134
ISBN 978-9957-8602-8-8