Nation Building/Building Home

The city of Kabul Afgahnastan has been at the crux of a thousand cultures in its 3500 year history. After the Russian invasion Kabul was rebuilt and planned for a population of 1 million. There were an estimated 2.8 million people living within the city limits of Kabul as of 2008. There are three types of housing patterns in of Afgahnistan. One is the traditional housing structure Qala that tends to house several generations or extentions of a family. These compounds are usually built around a central courtyard and added on to as the families needs change.

There are also apartment buildings constructed by the government which do not take into consideration the traditional family and vernacular building structure.

Finally, there are informal settlements on the outskirts of the city. From this Azad Architecture firms research site. “Over 90% of Afghanistan population live in villages and towns that were planned 5 to 10 centuries before. The Old City of Kabul has a long history that dates back to pre-Islamic era. Until 1990 there over 100,000 people lived in the Old City. Houses were compact and attached to each other with 4 to 3 story high with narrow alleyways.”

For the most part these traditional and informal settlements are built from an adobe like substance of mud and clay, The larger buildings are made with concrete.


This makes the housing within the cities prone to collapse in the earthquake prone region.

There is also a massive population of internally displaced refugees. According to the UN refugee agency over 4 million now live in informal settlements.  There are 1 billion additional refugees in Kabul alone.

Many NGO’s are trying to address the needs of these populations, but with such difficult and uncertain conditions the bare necessities of food, water and medicine are barely being met.

The stability of this nation will depend on the ability of the communities to build safe and permanent housing for its citizens.  If the structure that contains community is not materialized neither will a stable local and national government.  The structure of any society must be built one dwelling at a time.  If support is not provided for this foundation the tower of government will fail.

Category: Design Strategies 2 comments »

2 Responses to “Nation Building/Building Home”

  1. Crafty Designer

    Thinking of housing structures… I read of one similar to the Qala structure. Ann Leonard, author of “The Story of Stuff”, is featured in a New York Times slideshow of “Favorite Spaces”. She and many friends and family have all decided to live on the same block, eventually taking over the whole block. They have a communal yard without fences. She references the Indonesian compound structure called “kampung.” Check out the website below.

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/10/17/realestate/keymagazine/favorite-spaces-8.html

  2. Vadim

    I think it’s really nice to rethink the building process of the countries such as Afghanistan. Good standing structures would be a big step forward.

    If “stability of this nation will depend on the ability of the communities to build safe and permanent housing for its citizens” how are they going to do it? Who and how is going to get the support?

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