Dissertation series: Women’s power in different architectural syles

Dissertation series homes in Somaliland
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Contrary to the opinion that dissertations can be boring and tedious, the students in this series use their final study as an opportunity to explore a subject close to their hearts. They prove dissertations can be a chance to delve deep into a topic that ignites your imagination.

Using ingenuity and creativity, these BA (Hons) Architecture students use their work to ask important questions and develop their own unique way of interpreting the world around them.

A nomadic hut from a village in Somaliland

A nomadic hut from a village in Somaliland

A nomadic hut from the village. Kelvin, N., 2020. Nomadic Hut. Available at: https://www.somaliland.com/news/somaliland/the-left-out-somali-home-makers/ [Accessed 2 November 2020]

A modern house in the city. Guridoon, 2018.

A modern house in the city. Guridoon, 2018.

A modern house in the city. Guridoon, 2018. Modern House. Available at: http://www.guridoon.com/property-detail/actoobar-102-1589269376 [Accessed 4 November 2020]

People flow of interviewee 1’s house

Drawing created by student Hibaak Elmi

A drawing created by Hibaak shows the flow of people within interviewee 1’s house.

Here student Hibaak Elmi uses her homeland of Somaliland as her subject for discussion and explores the relationship between different types of housing and its impact on women's power.

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Dissertation title:

Women’s power in different architectural styles: An analysis of Somaliland’s modern and vernacular architecture and how they impact the power of women


Hibaak Elmi

I studied the change in women's power within different architectural styles in Somaliland, Africa. Specifically analysing and comparing the old-fashioned huts used in the villages with modern houses found in the city.

I was inspired by my regular visits back home and the drastic change in the two environments. I wanted to capture the contrast between the contemporary habitual lifestyle in the city versus the traditional way of living in the villages and look at the impact this has on women's power.

Initially, I had hesitated to study this topic as I knew this had not been explored before For that reason, the dissertation only had a few literature references to support my argument, which was quite broad.

For example, I looked at a book that explored the importance of African women to their families. I then linked this back to the role women play in different areas in Somaliland. I found this extremely difficult initially, because there were only vague connections with my topic to contribute to my argument.

I established early on that literature was not going to be my dominant source and so I had to plan interviews and tasks with women in Somaliland. For this I utilised family connections back home to understand my topic better and to ensure I had reliable primary sources for my writing.

I think if I were to redo this project, I would've conducted the interviews earlier on in the process. This would have offered the opportunity to analyse and compare the responses thoroughly and explore other elements within different lifestyles. 

After completing the project, I now feel I recognise the significance of not shying away from subjects that others have not yet studied, as this doesn't lessen their relevance or importance.