Traditional Arabic House Design
Location: Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia
Scope of services: Architectural Design and Landscape design
Date: December 2018
Modern design elements have greatly influenced traditional Arabic architecture as Middle Eastern countries continue to embrace Western culture and traditions. In this traditional Arabic house design, in Saudi Arabia, the impact of Islamic architecture is very evident in the use of traditional forms and features. However, the house also acknowledges its place in modern society by harmoniously incorporating modern elements into the design, without compromising the traditions and values of the past.
As is customary in many Muslim countries, the entrances for women and men are segregated to maintain privacy. White Calcutta marble with dark walnut wooden accents are used as cladding for the exterior elevation. Tall, narrow mashrabiyas with geometrical screening patterns adorn the elevation, while maintaining privacy for the residents inside. Adjacent to the splendid entry arch, these elements emphasize the verticality of this traditional Arabic house design. The modernity of the strictly geometric volumes is counter-balanced by the traditional pointed arch, mashrabiyas and molded stucco relief work on the exterior residential façade.
The entryway is deliberately designed with a double height pointed arch to magnify the element of grandeur. The large expanse of glazing, framed by the arch, balances the stone cladding, adding an element of transparency and lightness to the structure. Geometry, which is important in Islamic architecture, is highlighted by the absence of curves and emphasized by the symmetry of the round double-height columns.
The L-shaped residence is oriented North, into the direction of the prevailing wind, which helps draw air into the house. Large ground-floor windows open to an intimate exterior courtyard tucked into the void created by the L-shape of the residence. Owing to the clever orientation of the building, the courtyard is largely shaded by the building, providing a cool haven of tranquility for the family to enjoy. The bedrooms and private spaces on the first floor overlook the courtyard, enjoying a peaceful view of the pool and gardens.
The courtyard comprises a beautiful raised pool with a decorative tiled coping and lounging sun-beds. Lying in the shade of the building, the pool acts as a cooling element, cooling the hot air that is drawn through the courtyard into the house. Palm trees and green plants create an oasis-like environment, allowing the pool and courtyard to be used on hot summer days.
The property line walls, with a textured finish, are traditional in their look and feel. Green plants planted against the walls offer visual relief against the expanse of the boundary walls.
The landscape is minimalist and modern with linear, rectangular pavers planted with grass joints. This softens up the hardscape, adding an element of color to offset the light-colored walls and paving.
A rooftop barbeque area and garden is shaded by a laser-cut metal screen, providing yet another secluded spot for family leisure. The paving pattern and planting in the lower garden is replicated in the terrace gardens, unifying the different levels.
The architecture of this traditional Arabic house design reflects the environmental, cultural and social values of the Islamic tradition while embracing modernity in its form and function.