Exploring Privacy in Indian, Algerian and Nigerian Dwellings from an Environmental Behavioral Perspective

By Vibhavari Jani, Mohamed Cherif Amor and Abimbola Asojo.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study examines how privacy is viewed in non-Western cultures using a dichotomous approach — man as a producer of the environment (environmental approach) and man as a respondent to the environment (behavioral approach). Authors will share their research findings to show how Gujarati (India), Arabic (Algeria), and Yoruba (Nigeria) people incorporate concerns for privacy in design of their residential dwellings so that other educators and designers can understand and incorporate this knowledge in their teaching and design. In this paper, authors will: 1) discuss the Western thoughts on privacy, 2) non-western view on privacy, and 3) provide information on Gujarati, Algerian and Nigerian residential dwellings to discuss how concerns for privacy in these cultures are incorporated in their dwelling design. A conceptual framework was developed to understand what role the religions, the social and cultural traditions, the male-female equation, the joint family system, and the hierarchy play in defining privacy. This conceptual framework enabled authors to understand the influence of these factors in the development of the spatial configuration, the articulation of exterior and interior components including the transitions, the courtyard configurations, the visual field and openings, the circulation, and the decorative and symbolic artifacts. Authors’ preliminary findings suggested that privacy plays a pivotal behavioral role in influencing the design of the home environments and remained one of the most pervasive entity of these three community based cultural environments. Another very important fact to note was that all three cultures considered secondary symbolic functions of the space more important than the primary utilitarian functions. Additionally, it was found that it is not the primary functions of privacy (secluding oneself from the others) that are of concern, on the contrary, the secondary semantic functions (why do we seclude ourselves) or the meanings anchored to such behavior was more important.

Keywords: Non-Western, Culture, Environment, Privacy, Architecture, Design, Interior Environment, Built Environment

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.91-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 584.069KB).

Prof. Vibhavari Jani

Professor, The School of Architecture, VJCREATIONS L.L.C, and Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA

Vibhavari Jani was trained as an architect, interior designer, painter, singer, and as a dancer and loves teaching, research and designing creative projects. In more than 17 years of practice in the United States, she has served the architecture and interior design industry in executive and administrative capacity and designed and managed large ($100 million) projects for major corporations, health care, education, government and hospitality clients. As an academic, she enjoys working with students and at present serve as the Associate Professor in the College of Architecture at Kansas State University. In past she has served as a Program Chair, Endowed Professor and as instructor at a Univresities in Louisiana and Michigan. Prof. Jani’s research interests include the contribution of Non-Western cultures in the field of architecture and design, Influence of collaborative efforts in architecture and interior design education, Sustainability and Green design, and the Influence of new technology and how it is impacting the interior design curricula. She has published over 40 research papers and articles in national and international journals. She also received a Gold Medal and a Best Thesis Award for her architecture research work and also received many awards and grants for various research and creative projects. Her paintings, poetry, essays and articles have been published in India, the UK and the USA. Among her many publications, “Creation” the book of her abstract paintings based on the Vedanta Philosophy is her favorite. She also illustrated a book entitled “Baal Vikas Yatra” (Baby’s Growth Book) in 2000. Her book of Poetry “Sumbandh Naam Nu Ek Phool” was published in 1999. Her research work on “Interiors and Furniture for Open Plan Offices” was published in 1990. Currently she is working on a textbook “Non-Western Design Tradition” which will be published in 2010. She gives lectures on this subject to create awareness about non-Western art, architecture and cultures. She also served as an anchor and hosted many television and radio programs in India.

Dr. Mohamed Cherif Amor

Program Chair, School of Design, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA

Cherif M. Amor joined the faculty at Texas Tech University in 2000. He earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Design with a specialization in the semantics of the built environment, from the University of Missouri Columbia (2000). Early graduate work (M.Phil degree in architecture, 1987) with special emphasis on home environments was completed at the School of Architecture, New Castle Upon-Tyne, England. Recent research interests focuses on home environments with an emphasis on cultural manifestations and non-western design, based on an environment behavior paradigm. Concomitantly, his publications on collaboration between design schools prompted another line of research interest. He serves as a reviewer of several design publications as well as a site visitor for the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and chairs the interior design network within the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA). Likewise, he currently holds the position of Director of Education for the Texas/Oklahoma International Interior Design Association (IIDA). During the last six years, he has been the recipient and nominee of ten research and teaching awards.

Prof. Abimbola Asojo

Director, Interior Design Program, Oklahoma University, Norman, Oklahoma, USA

Abimbola Asojo is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Interior Design Division at the College of Architecture, University of Oklahoma. She has been a professor at the University of Oklahoma since 1997. She holds a Masters in Architecture: Computing and Design from University of East London, England and Masters and Bachelors in Architecture from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Her teaching areas are lighting design; architecture design and human factors; computer modeling; corporate design; and commercial design. Her research areas are cross-cultural design issues; African architecture; computing and design; lighting design; and global design issues. She has published over fifty articles in the Journal of Interior Design (JID); Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review; Designing for the 21st Century journal; Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) journal; Journal of Design Communication; Interior and Sources Magazine; Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture proceedings; Interior Design Educators Council proceedings; Diversity in Beginning Design conference proceedings; International Space Syntax Symposium proceedings; and the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environment Working paper series. She is a licensed architect in the state of Oklahoma and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). She is NCIDQ certified and is a member of the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC). She serves on the Journal of InteriorDesign (JID) Review board. She has worked on numerous design projects in United States, Nigeria and Kuwait.


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