Sustainable architectural design is still in its early stages in many developing countries. There are many pressures that can reduce application of sustainable design; for instance over one billion people worldwide still lack adequate shelter and suffer from poverty. Algeria is an example of a country facing a pressing housing shortage which takes precedence over such features as energy efficient design. There is currently an inability of the government to effectively respond to housing needs in both qualitative and quantitative scales. The problem threatens cities with a large spread of informal settlements and slums around many Algerian cities.

The main aim of this research is to investigate the Algerian housing sector and the housing policy adopted by the government, and to examine potential for future more sustainable outcomes. The problems and obstacles facing the sector are addressed with a particular focus on the city of Jijel. This research also aims to assess the professionals' awareness of the sustainability issues and investigates the aspects of traditional and contemporary architecture in Algeria which are suitable for the planning of sustainable settlements.

The research methodology involved carrying out quantitative and qualitative analysis (mixed method) of the housing sector in Algeria using comparative analysis for different types of houses: collective apartments; traditional courtyard houses; and self-build houses. This involved descriptive, qualitative, and spatial analysis of case studies and the use of survey questionnaire. The survey questionnaire helped to assess the inhabitants' satisfaction with their houses and was initially used with residents of 30 collective apartments from three different estates in the city of Jijel. Later, residents of 10 selected self-build family houses were interviewed. Finally, the survey was carried out with residents of traditional courtyard houses in the city of Constantine.

This study found that despite being sustainable at the time of building, traditional courtyard houses can no longer be considered as an example of sustainable housing due to the degradation of the houses caused by age and poor maintenance. In addition, overcrowding and the occupation of a number of houses by non-relatives have caused a lack of comfort and privacy. The study also found that there is a wide neglect in all types of house of climatic design principles required to help achieve thermal comfort. Occupants are more concerned for spatial comfort and believe they can deal with thermal comfort using energy consuming appliances. However, the continual increase in fossil fuel use and energy costs in Algeria could make these houses either very expensive to run or even unusable in the future. In addition, the poor quality of the exterior environment and the lack of certain necessary amenities and services needed in daily life, have affected the satisfaction of residents. Most of the interviewed residents would prefer to participate in the design of their houses; a process that would enable them to improve use of space and thermal comfort.

It was concluded that many problems facing the housing sector in Algeria cannot be solved by either state-led projects or by self-build informal construction. The research highlighted that the most important issue is the serious imbalance between housing supply and demand and unless lessons from the failures of previous policies are learned and new effective measures enacted by the government, the housing policy in Algeria is likely to fail again. This would further compromise provision of adequate housing and potential for future urban sustainability.

Some suggestions are made for stakeholders and planners to aid in developing strategies to create new sustainable cities that can achieve both residents' satisfaction and reduce negative impact on the environment.

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