Traditionally, Islamic influences have always had a strong visual impact on the world of design, especially in architecture. However, the recently completed Four Houses Project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Dom Architectura demonstrates how traditional Islamic design features play more than just a pleasing aesthetic role. Instead, they provide great functional value in today's resilient building and passive design strategies.
According to Dom Architectura, the focus of the Four Houses design was to achieve a contemporary architectural structure that intrinsically melds with the harsh Saudi Arabian environment. In order to achieve this balance, the design was heavily influenced by various Islamic architectural concepts such as the connection of the exterior with the interior, and strategic use of sunlight and mosaic shades, water fountains and shade plants.
As is common in Islamic architecture, the ground floor is organized around a small central interior courtyard, built with concrete and wood and purposely kept as austere as possible. The space is painted a simple white color to minimize solar radiation. The ground floor entryways are also left as open spaces, but are partially covered by pergolas that help with air circulation.
The individual terrace spaces throughout the houses are used as a transitional space between the outside and the interior. These outdoor areas are equipped with lush, green plants and a small water fountain. The interior takes advantage of an abundance of natural light. Light, water and garden landscaping are often used to represent the Islamic interpretation of an oasis paradise as according to the Qur’an.
The first floor has three bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as a large gallery area that can be opened as a patio. This area is more exposed than the rest of the structure and is wrapped in large sliding shutters that help shade the interior from the oppressive Saudi Arabian heat. The sliding lattices and the pergolas are inspired by old Arab slats and Islamic mosaics. They are made out of a fairly dense wood in order to adequately perforate the holes and shapes that allow for shade and privacy as well as provide slivers of mild, natural light on the interior.
Although perhaps not exactly traditionally Islamic in nature, there are quite a few contemporary features within the design as well. The second floor has the large luxurious master suite with a two terraces that offer the best views of the home. Occupants can enjoy the jacuzzi and outdoor shower on the private back terrace.