Mediterranean Arabic House Design
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Scope of services: Architectural Design, Structural Engineering and MEP Engineering
Date: March 2018
Client: Waleed Alwalaie, Executive Leadership at ESADE Business & Law School
Red-tiled, low-pitched roofs, arches and crisp white walls evoke an old-world charm in this Mediterranean Arabic house design located in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Designed for a prominent businessman and his family, the modern massing combined with quaint Mediterranean-style design details make this home both inviting and exotic at the same time. While the concept behind the design is steeped in Arabic and Islamic tradition and culture, with a focus on family and social life, Mediterranean features such as crown moldings and arched facade embellishments add an elegant finishing touch to the elevation of the villa.
The villa is encompassed by a tall, solid masonry property wall to obstruct outside views into the property. Intricate wrought-iron gates, another feature reminiscent of the Mediterranean revival style, serve as entrances to the villa compound. A covered car port offers protection from the harsh sunlight, capped by a red-tiled roof, which is a distinct feature in the rest of this Mediterranean Arabic house design. A water fountain built into the compound wall is symbolic of the generosity of the Islamic culture and offers passersby relief from the unrelenting heat with a much welcomed drink of water.
Since the architecture and design of many up-scale Saudi homes is heavily influenced by Islamic traditions which place great importance on family, a large part of the property is usually reserved for outdoor areas for the family and guests to enjoy. In this Mediterranean Arabic house design, the exterior spaces wrap elegantly around the villa, creating several opportunities for communal gatherings and social interaction.
A tiered fountain forms the focal point of the entrance courtyard and is centered on axis with the imposing double-height entrance flanked by decorative white, marble columns. This entrance, for male family members and visitors, leads into a luxurious double–height living room and men’s Majlis. A more discreet, arched entrance provides separate access for the women as is customary in many Saudi homes. The entrance courtyard is paved with concrete cobblestones with wide joints, which help to break up the expanse of the hardscape. The charming cobblestones and fountain transport you back to old Mediterranean courtyard villas.
An elegant pavilion situated at the corner of the property provides the perfect venue for al fresco dining during the cooler evenings. Supported by white columns and topped with a red-tiled roof, this pavilion mirrors the architecture of the main residence and lends the entrance courtyard a resort-like ambiance with its delicate white curtains and elegant outdoor furniture. Cone and spherical shaped topiaries form part of the landscape palette, which comprises of varied textures and shades of green to perfectly compliment the formal, classical vibe of the architecture.
Leading off the courtyard, discreetly situated in the side yard, a flight of steps with a wood and wrought iron banister, leads down into a tiled indoor entertainment space. Commonly used by the owner’s sons for entertaining friends, this basement patio is brightly lit with floor to ceiling windows and overlooks a charming seating area and outdoor fireplace. Graced by a sheeting water feature against the backdrop of a living green wall, the basement patio is bathed in natural light and provides the perfect entertainment space for private parties away from the more public spaces of the villa.
Standing tall and elegant, this Mediterranean Arabic house design combines the intrinsic values and beliefs of the Islamic and Arabic culture at the core of its design, with a distinct Mediterranean flavor that is harmoniously integrated into its facade treatment.