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Bio-climatic architecture in libya: case studies from three climatic regions

Elwefati, Nahla Adel
The aim of this study was to investigate the bio-climatic characteristics of traditional and contemporary residential architecture in three different climatic/geographical regions of Libya, which are represented by Tripoli in the “coastal region”; Gharyan in the “mountainous region”; and Ghadames in the “desert region”. It was undertaken to understand and evaluate the effects of building layout and orientation, wall thicknesses, ceiling height, construction materials, thermal mass and size of windows, on the resultant thermal comfort conditions of the buildings/dwellings in question. An architectural survey of the dwellings was carried out and indoor and outdoor photos of houses were taken. Temperature and humidity data in pre-determined rooms of the dwellings, in addition to data relevant to exterior weather conditions were recorded by thermo-hygrometers. Residents who had experience of living in both traditional and contemporary dwellings were interviewed informally before preparing a comprehensive questionnaire, which was distributed to them to gather the required data. It was found that traditional dwellings in Tripoli and Ghadames, in their present condition, did not provide the desired level of thermal comfort. This was attributed to a number of reasons. One was the abandonment of these dwellings by their occupants, in favor of those of modern style. The resulting collapse of some parts of adjacent house blocks, which used to provide a degree of protection against climatic conditions when working as a whole block of several attached houses. Another was the introduction of new construction materials that were incompatible with the original ones. However, traditional dwellings in both cities appeared to provide relatively better thermal comfort conditions in comparison with the use contemporary dwellings of recent years, except for those with air conditioning. This situation was different in Gharyan, where the troglodyte dwellings were concerned. These dwellings were thermally more comfortable than the modern ones in the city. This was attributed to the fact that most of the existing troglodyte dwellings still preserved their original features to a large extent. At length, this study recommends that modern types of dwellings should adapt those features of the traditional ones that are more compatible and suitable for the local climatic conditions, in a way which guarantees optimum exploitation of local resources in terms of energy consumption and cost.