The Integrated Bicultural Referent of the Built Colonial Heritage: Social Housing Models in Oran (1954–1958), Algeria

Loubna Kara Mostefa, Kheira Tabet Aoul


The built heritage of the 1950s French colonial era represents the complexity of the hybrid cultural identity bequeathed by history but attracts minimal interest and consid­eration as an accepted local heritage. This research focuses on the opportunities and misconceptions about cultural reinterpretations and on the role a given society plays in the definition of cultural and patrimonial identity. For this purpose, the paper explores four social housing models and their derivatives (Nid d’abeilles, Sémiramis, Trèfle and Brunie) built during the French colonial period between 1954 and 1958 in Oran, Alge­ria. The historical analysis, supported by a qualitative study of the spatio-temporal evo­lution of these public housing projects, is based on the dynamics of cultural transfers. It aims to understand the interweaving and evolution of formal, organizational and func­tional reinterpretations of architectural components generated by western architects and remodeled by the local population. The result identifies hybrid cultural housing and highlights the pivotal role of social stakeholders in the acceptance and accommodation of mixed models. It encourages the identification of sustained and integrated bicultural referents which reflect the contemporary cultural identity.


built colonial heritage; cultural identity; social housing; cultural transfers

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1973-9494/9227


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