Journal
BKC 02 - 09 - 2010

Today we had an exciting time visiting one of the farming villages on the West Bank of Luxor, Egypt. All forty four of us were guided around on camels to see different parts of the settlements. From this visit, we observed the impact of globalization on village life, observed village/housing planning, and sustainable community design. Globalization has impacted the village in a number of ways. First, tourism has altered the means by which the families earn money. Many of these farming families now operate cafes and tea houses catering to tourist groups; some offer tourists opportunities to spend a few days or a night in the family dwelling, taking them on camel tours around the area. Recent technology improvements, such as satellite dishes and electricity, have moved these families into the twenty-first century. Cell phones are a common occurence; people can be seen riding camels and talking on cell phones. American music can be heard almost anywhere. In terms of village and housing design, we observed that there were no building codes governing the built environment, yet the structures served their occupants ideally. The buildings responded to the villagers' needs first and foremost, physically acknowledging the width of a donkey cart or two camels going in opposite directions or the amount of space for a garden plot. Their houses also often lacked secure doors or front yards, giving the village a community characteristic. In the case of this Egyptian village, form followed function, resulting in a housing plan that centered around the Nile River as the source for drinking water and irrigation (top right image). Sustainability became evident in the materials chosen for different elements of the community; each material served its purpose efficiently. Mud brick walls created the supporting walls of the home. Logs created rafter beams that carried the length of the house and reeds provided the additional layer of roofing. Not only does such a method reduce weight on the roof, it allows for ventilation of air through the house, cooling it during the warm summer months. Furthermore, the windows were small, reducing the amount of heat gain to the house. The understood use of vernacular materials created a successful, sustainable community (bottom right image). From the farming villages of the West Bank, our World Tour group now has a greater understanding of sustainable settlements, organic planning organization, and the effect of globalization on indigenous cultures.

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