1-5 Types of Housing Units: Housing types of Al-Madina could be figured through two main eras, the old era when the whole city was circulated by fences. The second era began after the demolishing of these walls and continues to the present. 1-5-1) The First Era: Al-Madina Al-Monawarah was distinguished with the multiple open areas with different sizes; the most important of which a large square named Al-Manakha, which split the city into two (Figure 4). Al-Madina Al-Monawarah combines in its traditional urban structure between two types, one of them is the alley style that is popular in most Islamic cities, and the second is the courtyard style that distinguishes its urban style. The difference between the two types is that the alley type consists of a main street called “Hara” with many side roads where houses are lined on both sides, while the court yard type consists of a main street similar to the alley, but with many openings that are actually gates leading to an open area surrounded by houses from all sides (Figure 5). Such courtyard had a very important role in Al-Madina Al-Monawarah’s urban fabric through relieving the crowdness of the buildings that was a common style in Moslem cities(5).


1-5-2) The Second Era:  The socio-economic changes were reflected on the urban structure and the types of houses in Al-Madina Al-Monawarah. Housing can be divided into three main types, namely the traditional house, the private villas, and the housing building blocks. Through a comparison between the numbers and percentages of the distribution of these units during the year of 1971, 1978, 1990 shown in Table (1), we can deduct the following: (6)

Housing Type




Traditional house

Private villas

Building Blocks










Table (1): Percentage of distribution of housing units - Al-Madina Al-Monawarah
- There is a continuing decrease in the number and percentage of the traditional housing (Figure 6), where it represented 76.4% in 1971, and decreased to 45.8% and 27.7% in 1978 and 1990, respectively.
- There is an increase in the number and percentage of the private villas (Figure 7) where it was estimated at around 1.7% in 1971, and rose to 3.1% then increased to 14.9% in 1978 and 1990
- There is a clear rise in the percentages of the building-blocks housing units (Figure 8), where it represented 21.9% in 1971, and increased to 51.1% in 1978 and up to 57.4% in 1990.  

It is noticed, from the above, the different relationship between the percentage of each housing model with the development of the social and income structures, that is evident from the large fall or decrease of the traditional housing type, against the increase in the villas and buildings. In additional to the difference in the percentage of increase of each type, largely favoring the villa’s type.

2. The House of Al-Madina Al-Monawarah

Private houses and clusters of houses are the determining components of the urban fabric in Moslem cities, not only because of their sheer quantitative dominance but also because of their particular attitude of Islam towards formal civil institutions and its relatively low emphasis on monumental public building. It therefore seems appropriate to start the discussion of the Islamic structure with the analysis of the residential unit. In examining a place like a house within the urban context of Al-Madina, two major factors should be considered: the impact of the environment and the relationships between the design of the house and cultural influences.

Figure (9) summarizes this approach. It portrays the house as a reflection of several facets of culture and as a place that has many “windows” through which one can see how a culture relates to it’s environment. (9)  

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