This story about the Maasai in Tanzania joins together four disciplines – architecture, archaeology, anthropology and art – transforming these disciplines into characters that converse across the Plains of Tanzania, posing questions about history, tradition, global development, architecture, identity, cultural tokens, spatial configurations and why humans love to hear a good story. It is a play in five acts, taking the reader on a playful journey to discover vernacular African architecture and a space that is in-between. Two storylines, a scientific and a poetic one that are interwoven, form the very methodology of the thesis.
Act 1, “Narrate” takes the reader on a tour to the East African land, elaborating the story of the Maasai, their livelihoods, their spatial expansion and downscaling fragmentation, their shift in identifying Maasainess linking it to what is described as In-betweenness.
Act 2, “Build” holds the story. It explains the relationship of humans to story and narration and the way they are embedded in scientific and philosophic contexts. Narration creates clear spatial consequences but also an intangible in-between space that is the gap or threshold, a word that translates as “die Schwelle” in German and is a spatial consequence of the In-betweenness that symbolises transition and change. Maasai culture is embedded in this very transition, living a life of movement, adaptation, change and resilience.
Act 3, “Converse” is the contextual conversation. The four characters are bringing their views to life creating a relationship with each other and thus with the different spaces.
Act 4, “Relate” is mapping these Maasai stories in a spatial dimension.
Act 5, “Pause” brings the story to a halt, yet it is not the end. The importance of being in-between, its creative and spatial momentum is elaborated here. More questions arise as we finish about architectural conservation and what that might mean for vernacular building traditions and knowledge.