The architecture of Ghadames is well adapted to desert life, as the old city remains comfortable even in the heat of the summer. Although many families have moved out of the traditional houses into newer housing with modern amenities, many people return to the old city during the summer when air conditioning cannot keep the new buildings cool.
Traditional houses are centered around a two-story main room whose only light comes from a grate in the ceiling. Interior whitewashed walls are decorated by the women of the household in bold red paint, textiles, and copper. This is the center of family life, as well as the room into which guests are received.
Adjacent to the living room is the "kubba", a ceremonial room used only on the first night of marriage and by a woman following the death of her husband. A stairway leads up the wall of the main room to bedrooms and storerooms on the second floor. The roof of the main room serves as an open-air family terrace. The kitchen is also on the roof, as is a sleeping area for summertime.
The exterior walls are generally made of mud brick with no decoration or whitewash except at the top where corners have whitewashed finials. House doors are palm boards sometimes painted in green or grey.
McLachlan, Anne & Keith. 1997. Tunisa Handbook with Libya. Bath: Footprint, 480.
Shawesh, Abubaker Mohamed. 1995. Traditional Settlement in the Oasis of Ghadames in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Libyan Studies 26. 35-47.