White Villages: Unique Traditional Communities
In many parts of the world, such as Spain, Greece, Sicily, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, there are rustic villages, which are traditionally painted with the white color and shine under the sun. The villages’ charming white houses and beautiful plazas are spectacular places, which express the traditional life style and provide a sense of relaxation and enjoyment. Most of these villages are located on island, mountain sites, perched on top of a high rock, or overlooking a sea or an ocean.
Image credit: An impressive example is the village of Paros in the Cyclades Islands. It features an outstanding picturesque landscape within its fertile valleys. The village enjoys long sandy beaches and characterized by number of small churches which complement its fantastic scenery. It also the house of many well-known monuments from the ancient medieval time.
The outstanding vernacular design of these villages creates unique ecological and sustainable communities, which can integrate itself with the surrounding natural environment.The organic planning, the winding streets, and the architectural form of the buildings create a highly visual interest to their residences as well as to the visitors. The streets, which are naturally paved from the repeated walks, or stone-paved, provide an easy walk and create a peaceful and satisfying promenade from an artistic point of view.
Image credit: The oasis town of El-Oved is one of the many villages in the desert of Algeria. The village is characterized by its high stone border walls, which provide both protection and privacy to the inhabitants.
In fact the architecture of each of these traditional villages was devised to stand the effect of the surrounding natural environment. The houses are perfectly oriented to enjoy the prevailing wind in summer and be protected from it in winter time. The openings also vary in size in order to allow the most favorable amount of wind, heat or light. The structures of the houses were intuitively made out of appropriate natural materials with varying thickness in order to adapt itself to the local climate.
Image credit: Grazalema, One of the White Villages, Cadiz Province, Andalucia, Spain, Europe
The houses of these white villages featured a full adaptation of the available local materials to the purposes of the inhabitants’ life. There is no doubt that the perfect design of the houses cannot be produced from an architect’s drawing board. They are the outcome of the accumulated experiences which reflect the real personality of the people. It is also very apparent that the villages are an expression to the rich knowledge, which enabled them to create their houses based on their actual life-needs. In fact they understand intuitively that certain architectural forms and method of construction are appropriate to the specificity of their regions.
Image credit: White Houses in Capileira, Barranco del Poqueira, Alpujarras. Granada province, Andalucia, Spain