A Design Guide for Contemporary Saudi Arabian Homes in Riyadh

Majid Ibrahim Almehrej

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The traditional form of the Arab house was dictated by both its climate and the culture of its inhabitants. Islamic values, as well as socio-economic factors, have played critical roles in ordering and forming the built environment. However, the mid-1950s marked the beginning of Saudi Arabia's first rapid economic growth as a result of the discovery of oil, which dramatically increased the wealth and prosperity of the population, resulting in a new lifestyle. This period witnessed the introduction of the grid layout street pattern and the detached villa house type constructed in reinforced concrete, with large windows and balconies. This is still the prevalent style in Saudi Arabia and the central province in particular. While the traditional courtyard house created its own privacy and microclimate, this contemporary type is a solid building with a narrow open space between it and the next house. The initial investigation for this research revealed that the villa style creates fundamental problems for Saudi families, especially in terms of lack of privacy; and the air-conditioning has negative implications for the climate. The theoretical framework investigates the principles of cultures that are associated with the home, in order to clarify its concept and fundamental principles; illustrate the influence of culture on house form; and finally, demonstrate the nature of both the courtyard and villa house types. The methodology uses a survey strategy with questionnaires, interviews and building analysis. This study aims to highlight the need for a specific contemporary home style where both the treatment of place and the house design meet all the needs of Saudi households. The output of this research will be some guidance for house design that could satisfy 21st century aspirations, yet still respect Islamic culture and traditional values.
Original languageEnglish
  • Giddings, Bob, Supervisor
  • Hudson, Gordon, Supervisor, External person
  • Cresciani, Manuel, Supervisor
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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