THE DESERT ROSE DOMES OF THE SOUF REGION (ALGERIA). PRELIMINARY EVALUATIONS ON THE VULNERABILITY OF A UNIQUE VERNACULAR HERITAGE
Keywords: Gypsum desert rose, Domed settlements weaknesses, Materials characterization, Building culture
Abstract. The vernacular architecture of the Souf region in Algeria, a desert environment where wood is rare, presents multiple heritage values due to the way in which local materials (especially the desert rose stone) are exploited to build houses and erect distinctive domes. Unfortunately, extensive damage and abandonment compromise the stability of these buildings and accelerate their disappearance, which would negatively affect the urban landscape and the identity of the region. In order to safeguard this unique vernacular heritage, the study focuses on the definition of the typical typology of building, its structural and geometric characteristics, explaining the constructive technique used. Recurrent damage and pathologies that threaten this building culture are also highlighted. Then, estimation of mechanical parameters of the desert rose stone masonry is carried out defining typical characteristics according to the evaluation of the respect of “the rule of the art”. Results are then used to perform numerical simulations of the structural behaviour of a typical building, through the finite element method with linear and nonlinear approaches. In particular, the structural behaviour of the dome has been investigated, being the most vulnerable element of the system.