2-1) The Environment

 2-1-1) Climate:

An obvious way in which houses reflect their surroundings is in relation to climate, which includes temperature, humidity, wind, rain, radiation and light. Within the local context of Al-Madina, temperature and high sun light should have special attention and priority.

The urban fabric of the old buildings inside the fences was formed of a block of adjacent walls, where the houses rose from two to three stories. While the narrow alleys of 1-3 meters led to the existence of large shadows in the movement areas at housing blocks. Houses were built with thick bearing walls erected from Bazelt stones in the lower floors, which helps the thermal isolation, and from bricks in the upper floors with wooden ceiling, while the face cover made from wood that cointinue to cover the whole length of the building. These wooden windows (Mashrabiatte) play a distinguished role in improving the climate inside the house through working as filters for the sun rays.

These buidings generally overlook the alleys with a small facades, while the buildings are extended deeply inside. This could be aimed at minimizing the exposure of buildings to the sun (Figures 10).  

It was also noticed that same building gradually eises on the alleys which throws shadows on the walls to protect them from the sun. In addition this graduation of the buildings on both sides of the alley allows the movement of hot air in the alleys up which is replaced by cool air (8).

Some Luxiuriores houses enjoy internal courtyards with private gardens and water pools. While it’s enclosed and introverted private space offered protection against desert storms. It provided some sort of a hollow container sunken into the building volume that created shade, which acted as a temperature regulator by storing cool air collected during the night .

Within the new city, houses are built from concrete structure and bricks for walls. Additional insulation materials were used to enhance the thermal isolation. All types of air conditioning units (window, split, chilled water,.. ) have been used as a tool for achieving the comfort zone. These units have become one of the architectural constraints in house design, especially its facades. A wooden Mashrabia with its beauty and visual richness as a functional element has been replaced with artificial poor ones (Figure 11,12).


  2-1-2) Resources and Technological Skills

The variation   in the house  designs is closely linked     by Rapoport (10) to “technological and industrial development of the society”. Whereas in technological developed societies house designs are diverse, as members of society enjoy a more satisfying economic, political, religious and social cultural status.

As such, another element in the house design variation is the “home construction process”. The term “primitive” is used by Rapoport to describe the most basic level of house design and construction, where a minimal role is played by specialists in either the design or construction process. In fact, in this primitive level, all houses look similar to each other, and the responsibility for the common design and construction is widely shared by everyone, houses simply carry no noticeable variation or alternative designs.

Hence, the other two levels of home designs within the context of Al-Madina Al-Monawarah can be categorized  as “preindustrial vernacular”, for the old urban housing behind the fences. This involves a larger number of building designs, with more individual diversity that is actually built by professional construction specialists. Nevertheless, tradition is dominant on house designs as the house’s variant designs do not reflect new or unique ideas, rather they reflect variations from the traditional designs based mainly on functional reasons such as terrain, wind and sun.  Home owners participate in the building process, though skilled construction professionals are hired to do this job in this preindustrial vernacular category of house designs (Figure 13).

The third category of homes in the new city is “modern vernacular” where creativity plays a role in the variant designs of the new houses built by teams of construction specialists. Home designs range from simple to complex

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