"Imagine a shelter in the desert before building a house inside the walls of the city". This profound thought from Gibran (1988) lends itself to many interpretations. This paper considers traditional building techniques, typical of hostile natural environments (like the desert), which make up the invaluable heritage of knowledge that has forever helped mitigate harsh living conditions, to the point of producing advanced forms of civilization and culture where apparently not even survival seems certain (Fathy 1986; Moretti 2007). In the case of the Sahrawi camps, in southwest Algeria near Tindouf, the hostility of the natural environment has given rise to a series of ‘survival activities’, utilizing the great wealth of resources present in the culture of the desert and the people of Western Sahara.
Keywords: Sahrawi refugee camps; traditional building tech¬niques; desert living