International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Gender and Zones of Users in Traditional Berber M’zab Houses
Tahar Bellal

Houses are more complex phenomena than accounts based on mode of architectural style. They usually encode a wealth of social and cultural information. In this paper, we examine the spatial configuration of domestic spaces of traditional houses in the M’zab valley in Algeria. We are interested in analysing the space of the houses syntactically, as spatial domains shaped by gendered social relations. Space syntax method is applied to a sample of houses. The achievement of space syntax analysis is the interrogation of the plan through which buildings reveal social ideology embedded in structural genotypes. The research findings suggest a deeply family- centred culture was reflected in the organization of household spaces. An overview of the houses’ sample suggests a prime model, that defines the house as a collection of domains, e.g. male visitors/male and family/female. The empirical findings also, suggest that the houses tend to be divided into two separate domains, one section is exclusively used by the inhabitants and the other is reserved for receiving male guests, thus the configuration appears to modulate the social dynamics of the house’s occupants by distancing the hosts from immediate contact with male guests.

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