By Rhonda C. Daugherty
The book takes a real look at social, cultural and environmental issues that native African have to deal with on a micro-level while constructing tribal huts. The author focuses on poor tribal Hassenyia- speaking nomads; specifically the Tekna, Trarza and Brakna tribes in or near the Sahara desert. The book investigates primitive practices of construction that is still used today. In essences, the social and environmental issues such as the dry weather, weaving, and the gender roles impact design considerations and solutions.
Pussin’s introduction outlines the methods of the tribes’ architectural solutions to be vernacular. The author defines the book to examine “women builders of the Sahara could teach us a thing or two about housing whole populations on the outskirts of Calcutta, Djakarta, and Sao Paulo… This book evolved out of field experiences and research for an exhibition on African nomadic arts and architectures” (Pussin, 1995). Thus, exploring “the [acknowledgment] of gender specificity in creation, recreation, and use of architecture and artifact, and the interfaces between architecture and ritual” (Pussin, 1995). The similarity and connection of gender and ritual practices in nomadic architecture has been extremely practical and beneficial to the human condition of African construction that one will see if he or she reads the book.
Why would one want to read this book? Simply to get a better understand of nomadic African architecture. Many times people develop an appeal to Islamic or Japanese architecture but, African architecture has interesting elements as well that may or may not be investigated or understood. Such as the woman’s role in architecture. Women have more of a dominate role is the nomadic architectural practice. Because of the knowledge in weaving and artifact craft, women take on more of the architectural design role. That fact alone is worth giving the book a try.