Exploring privacy in indian, algerian and nigerian dwellings from an environmental behavioral perspective

Vibhavari Jani, Amor Cherif, Abimbola Asojo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalDesign Principles and Practices
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010


  • Architecture
  • Built Environment
  • Culture
  • Design
  • Environment
  • Interior Environment
  • Non-Western
  • Privacy


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