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Journal Article

Climate, climate change and the global diversity of human houses


Gray,  Russell D.       
COOL, Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Dunn, R. R., Kirby, k, K. R., Bowern, C., Ember, C. R., Gray, R. D., McCarter, J., et al. (2024). Climate, climate change and the global diversity of human houses. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 6: e24, pp. 1-55. doi:10.1017/ehs.2024.5.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000F-32C5-A
Globally, human house types are diverse, varying in shape, size, roof type, building materials, arrangement, decoration, and many other features. Here we offer the first rigorous, global evaluation of the factors that influence the construction of traditional (vernacular) houses. We apply macroecological approaches to analyze data describing house features from 1900 to 1950 across 1000 societies. Geographic, social and linguistic descriptors for each society were used to test the extent to which key architectural features may be explained by the biophysical environment, social traits, house features of neighbouring societies, or cultural history. We find strong evidence that some aspects of the climate shape house architecture, including floor height, wall material, and roof shape. Other features, particularly ground plan, appear to also be influenced by social attributes of societies, such as whether a society is nomadic, polygynous, or politically complex. Additional variation in all house features was predicted both by the practices of neighboring societies and by a society's language family. Collectively, the findings from our analyses suggest those conditions under which traditional houses offer solutions to architects seeking to reimagine houses in light of warmer, wetter or more variable climates. Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press.