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The Kabyle Old Houses and Architecture

The Kabylia region has about 1,500 villages. Each village usually occupies a ridge. The kabyle house,as all houses used to serve, offers a shelter to the people against beasts and bad weather. The Kabyle house is built by tying stones with clay. Today, it has almost entirely disappeared in all the Kabylian villages; the walls are constructed of bricks or still in stones (Bouzguene) but bonded with cement.

     The traditional house (Akham) is small and the Kabyle family usually lives in houses grouped around the same courtyard, accessed by a single door. It consists of the barn (Addaynin) for the cattle (sheep, oxen, donkeys, cows and goats) where they spend the night. Above which there is a loft (Thaarishth) that is a functionally indispensable element of the traditional house, that’s why all Kabyle houses are provided with to store their provisions and stuffs. The remained parts in the house are reserved for people to eat, to sleep, to procreate, to die (the essential events of existence).Thus, the interior of the Kabyle house is divided into three parts, each of which has a function and a proper shape.

      The building of houses, of course, is the men’s function but decoration and ornamentation of houses are the work of women. The floor is covered of a layer of gravel and lime that the women polish with a pebble, as it is done for the pottery while the walls are whitewashed and finished with a painted basement in red and black on a white background - of geometric figures of the most beautiful effect.

     In kabylia, the tiled roof is prevailing and it is established on three or four beams (Tigejdith) which rest on a piece of transverse wood (Ajgu), supported, near the bench separation by three vertical pillars. Under the same roof, a family lives with its food, its livestock and its tools, its field work (pick, yoke, plow, etc) and materials.

    In most of the villages, the traditional houses are progressively replaced by modern constructions. Kabyles claim to restore and safeguarding the architectural authenticity of the region within the framework of the national heritage.

written by ARAB Sabrina


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