WIT Press

Where the Kasbah met the hut: River Tagus and the encounter between Islamic and European building technologies


Free (open access)


Volume 1 (2017), Issue 3



Page Range

279 - 286

Paper DOI



WIT Press




The aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of the river Tagus as the place of the most occidental encounter between Islamic and European traditional construction technologies. The research stems from a study of Vernacular Architecture in Toledo. The investigation process has included a first phase of field work followed by Archives research, once the case studies have been determined. Further literature review about border typologies has evidenced the links among history, landscape transformations and building technologies.

Vernacular types of architecture in the Mediterranean fringe are usually studied as a whole. It is a vast area of very similar architectural solutions that seem to be born directly from the soil, the climate and cul- tures coming from the Middle East and northern Africa. But a closer look at this particular territory will reveal how traditional Mediterranean architecture is the result of the merging of two very different ways of understanding the built space, the relationship with the environment and the construction techniques. The Kasbah architecture, introduced by Islamic culture and based on a lack of interest of interacting with tough environmental surroundings, meets the European style of integrating hut architecture with the landscape. Landscapes of cattle pastures meet olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields. The patio meets the front yard. Very interestingly mixed wall designs emerge from this convergence of the two cultures, but there are also some difficulties when constructing wooden frames and trusses, particularly in the southern areas.

This article delves into the relationship among history, environment and mutations in architecture, focusing on the middle course of the river Tagus.


Islamic, rammed earth, Tagus, vernacular architecture, wooden structures