The Vernacular Architecture and Thermal Comfort Standards of the Pastoral Afar in Ethiopia,Lessons for Contemporary Buildings: In the Case of Surrounding Areas Dubti and Semera Towns,Afar,Ethiopia.

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Addis Ababa University


This thesis aimed to study and take lessons from sustainable thermal cooling features of the vernacular architecture of the pastoral nomads of Afar, in Ethiopia and extract useful principles that can be applied to the current architectural and construction sector in Afar. Current modern architectural practice in the area has suffered from harsh indoor environments forcing people to use mechanical ventilation which has its drawbacks concerning sustainability. The impact doesn’t end there since the architectural styles are adapted from modern practice the cultural and traditional entity that was embedded in their spaces through activities are disconnected from the people. The thesis focused on studying the socio-cultural structure of the Afar pastoral nomads and its integration with the their vernacular dwellings, their indoor environment, nearby open spaces, and their mobility pattern surrounding the emerging cities of Afar: Semera and Dubti. The urban areas were selected because of the growing inter-relation of the Afar pastoral nomads with the urban zones looking for public facilities as well infrastructure. In addition, it is to assess and evaluate the perception of the public living in urban regions about the pastoral nomad’s sustainable way of living, the thermal performance of the dwelling unit and representation of the Afar culture and identity through the nomadic pastoralist lifestyle. The assessment was conducted using methodologies such as observation, questionnaires, focused group interview and physical measurement. Study samples are taken using the purposive sampling technique. The result showed that the ranking of indoor thermal environmental conditions slightly differed between female and male respondents, between different types of dwelling sizes as well as material specification. Additionally, during outdoor environment analysis, it is observed that outdoor surrounding is used for a lot of activities through simple modifications and shade. Extracted results from both the survey, questioner and physical measurement results showed that the Afar pastoral nomads were able to provide sustainable thermal cooling features in a space that represent their culture that provides comfortable and productive space. These results were finally discussed and interpreted into guidelines that offer basic considerations during Architectural design in hot and arid climates for people with nomadic pastoral life style. Particularly spatial management, building material selection and adaptation of strategies were considered.



Sustainable Architecture, Passive strategy, Thermal Comfort,, Modern architecture,, Pastoral Nomad,, Nomadic Vernacular architecture, social structure.