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Does the architecture made to controlled women in arab world?

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Does the architecture made to controlled women in arab world?

According to Abdul Aziz Al-Khuwaiter (Minister of Education and High Council of Antiques) mud houses in Al-Najd Central region of Saudi Arabia one would give better outlook for the following three (3) reasons, (1) sources and components of construction materials such as mud, and its type, sources and places, (2) all matters related to the construction of the house such as plan site selection, internal and external design and number of floors. In this respect one would give special care for the preservation and harmony of mud houses in the city.

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(3) The construction workforce, including the engineers, masons and helpers and the apprenticeship training stages.

With a shelter(house) man can protect his family from natures element such as heat, cold, wind and rain. It  is very important to  a man (head of the family) can identify his social and economic status . “Home” stands for settlement, independence and affiliation. Shelter comes the third man’s priorities next to food and clothing.

The building of mud houses play an important role in shaping the socio-cultural aspects of the community by seriously understand their customs, religion and way of thinking.

The economical factor afforded by the mud houses, being made of locally secured materials inspired by the late arab architect Prof. Hassan Fathi, who devoted his entire life in the development of  traditional construction of mud houses in particular. The so called “ Arab House System” , sooner or later the economical pressure shall act positively in favour of prestine house system. One of  the major contributors in the enhancement of mud house in Riyadh was named Franco Albini an Italian architect who visited the “Holy City” and assessed that architecture has no boundaries no limits.

It is the soul product of intellectual glimpse, lessons and experiences. He pursued the building of mud houses in Saudi Arabia in the late sixties and seventies chance to study, monitor and gather important data , evidence, pictures in order to published first book on “The Traditional Architect of Saudi Arabia”.

1.1    The mud brick building tradition:

Detailed construction of mud houses, both poor and noble architectural examples were still exist and erected until today. Adobe as a material lends express powerful and strong architecture design, it varies from different regions and different heights according to the cultural background.  During the prehistoric times, adobe has been used in Afghanistan, New Mexico, Cameroon and Mediteranian basin wherever the clay and straw that form adobe are in large supply and the weather with its large temperature excursion and scarce precipitation is conductive to using materials having great thermal inertia and which would be destroyed in humid climate.

The adobe construction techniques, formal characterization and correspondence to the specific living habits of a country are important factors of the traditional continuity and search for expressions on ethnic identity.

1.2    Traditional Architecture in Najed, Saudi Arabia

Najed the great central plateau of Saudi Arabia, define with its precision since the accepted geographical and political limits of the territory. The geographical area delineated as Nahjed is a great plain gravel straited by sand bars with occasional outcropping mountains. Narrowly speaking, Nadj, can be divided for architectural purposes into southern area (“ Arid, Al-Yamama, Al-Hawta and Al-Aflaj) a central  area,(Sudayr) northern area ( Qasim) all these three seats of this Nadj architectural tradition are similar to domestics military and religious buildings, but there are regional variations. The building materials used throughout Nadj area until some 20 or 30 years ago was unfired mud-brick reinforce when necessary wooden beams. The roofing of the building is made of tamarisk (athl) the tree ubiquitous throughout central Arabia, these beam is overlaid by palm-matting and the whole is covered with a thick-layer of mud plaster. The interior decoration of the buildings consist of fine white plaster with stylized flower. usually decored with geometrics and stylised floral patterns, using either pigment (red, yellow and blue in various tones are favoured) or hot irons for burning the patterns into the wood. Today, it is the secular architecture of Najed Region which is vanishing fastest: nowhere is this more true than in Al-Riyad, whose traditional style of buildings belongs to the southern area ofNajed architecture to which I have referred, but as the capital of Saudi state since 1240AH/ 1824AD, its buildings are on a scale and of a grandeur that far surpass those of lesser settlements. Although mostly built in this century or late in the last, the traditional mud-brick buildings, of Al-Riyad preserve the form of an older local tradition. Today, only domestic buildings and the Qasr Masmak remain intact. Of the traditional mosques of Al-Riyad nearly all were lost, although their form was still preserved of the villages around the capital. (from G.King)

This constancy of architectural design is neither monotonous nor repetitive. One observes an infinite number of variations on similar themes using similar techniques, always renewed by the virtuosity with which the same elements are combined to yield different pattern. While it presents a stem and tightly closed facade to the outside world, the Najed house seen from the interior is remarkably attractive. The variety of internal space, or more precisely the diversity of viewpoints from which these spaces can be observed, produces and effects of the beauty which owns nothing to the inherent value of the building materials. Even in the most unassuming houses, there is a feeling of comfort and privacy which flows from the perfect harmony of the internal spaces and their human scale: these is the sense of well-being which comes from finely proportioned architecture.

  Compact overall volume

The Najed house plan is essentially compact. Recessed sections or projecting volumes never significantly after the uniformity of the outside perimeter of the house. The only elements occasionally added to the main volume are the toilets and bathrooms (hammam), which usually look like small towers built into the main walls and are not integrated into the overall plan. The same pattern is found in houses of all sizes, even in large ones (as in Shaqra) where, for example, the facade of the Bayt Al- Zabiry is adorned with towers of this kind. With a compact overall volume, Najed architecture allows a wide range of diversity which wonderfully enhances the plastic quality of its mud walls. It rejects symmetry or any formal composition. In this respect, the architecture ofNadj differsmost sharply from that of the other Saudi Regions where there is always a more or less marked preference for geometric discipline. This distaste for geometry is most noticeable in the composition of the facades. Rhythm and symmetry are avoided, and there is never a repetitive effect of identical volumes or an axial succession of rooms. The patio in the Najed house has a purely geometric form, a square or a rectangle.

However, an evolution towards symmetrical composition is noticeable in some houses and places which have been built in Riyadh in more recent times. Dual purpose functional organization Most Najed patio houses are organized on two levels. The ground floor is generally reserved for storage rooms or for sheltering cattle, while the first floor is devoted to the dwelling proper (Marat, Sadus). Roofs are used as terraces, protected by walls, and it is here that the families sleep during the hot season. The vertical division of the house is often echoed by a horizontal separation of the areas intended for reception and those for family life, for which distinct spaces are always reserved. This division in the internal functions of the house correspond to the traditional Islamic segregation between men and women. Here in the Central Region it is quite clearly embodies in the organization of the house: two entrances, two staircases, two sanitary blocks, and sometimes two patios. Variation may occur in this pattern, depending on the size of the house.

Whenever possible, the private family entrance and the semi-private guest entrance are completely separate. But sometimes a single door leads to two distinct circulations paths, one for guests, the other for the family. When the plot of land is quite small, like those in Sadus, the circulation paths may separate at the staircase. In a planned urban fabric like that of Buraydah, larger plots make it possible to divide the house into three adjoining sections.A third courtyard is created,used as a sevice area (which has been moved out from the basement) and for cattle, and it is provided with its own entrance. Still other variations can be seen in more recently developed areas, including single storey houses (e.g. in Buraydah) The patio and the majlis are two crucial poles of the house. These two spaces are given the most distinctive architectural treatment: the patio is often surrounded by a portico and by galleries on one or several sides.The majlisis almost always extensively decorated with beautiful stucco designs. This specific emphasis on patio and majlis is underlined by the less elaborate treatment of the other rooms which seems designed as ancillary spaces. The patio and majlis play a complimentary role in the functional organization of the house. Generally, the intimate family living quarters are centered around an open space, the patio; the reception area for guest is centered on a covered space, the majlis. Only in the wealthiest and most palatial of house can the owners afford both forms for both functions. In such cases, a large guest patio, which echoes the women’s patio, may be added, as happens in Buraydah. Some large houses may also boasts a women’s majlis; house of this kind are to be found, for example, in Shakra. Extensive use of circulation and transitional spaces Circulation areas are important for several reasons. For one thing, the dual purpose for which the house is designed applies to these area also. The patio also itself, at the heart of the house, preserves its seclusion by an alternative route around it, forming a kind of ring-like circulation area which is particularly important at first-floor level. Finally, the great emphasis on privacy in Saudi culture has often encouraged the use of staggered entranceways, whose lobbies provide a sort of circulation space in their own right. Frequently, the areas devoted to circulation are actually more extensive than the patio itself and  manyof them are also to some extent open along the side, or unroofed in the terraces.

Yet they contribute as much. if not to the quality of the living areas as the e”rooms themselves. In the Najed Region house circulation and transitional spaces are positive features. The importance of the patio in the Najed house contributes to the ubtlety of the tran spaces surrounding it. Internal facades patio are “perforated” and decorative. with the abrupt and solid character of the facade. The internal passages usually progressive movement from the enclosed interior spaces to the open space for patio. Galleries are found in every hcuse either on the upper level of the patio open space. and the semi-private guest entrance. To see the Morocco male architecture in the west, we will use paragraph from the study of George Marsaih who is specialized in the western part of the Arab world’s architecture. In Tunis homes, the outer door should be provided with one or two step.(42) So that its function appears as to delay the visitor and stop him to take permission before seeing any person. When we pass the two steps we enter in the vestibule that is acting as another door to separate the house from the outside(43). It is clear here, that the vestibule function is to complicate more for the visitor’s curiosity. It is easy to find out that the source of this curiosity is the other sex. “From the vestibule we enter another vestibule and mostly to a third one all of them are provided with doors. It compels the visitor to move in twisting manner” The vestibules are one of the architectural artifices that keep away women from the eyes inside the house. “Let us move to the paved courtyard across the galleries surrounding it.

Above the roofs there are grilles that prevent thieves from entering the courtyard(44). (See picture No. (2) and our comment) rooms are rectangular overlooking the patio, the best of them are for the guests (45). (See picture no.4) “The patio in Tunisian palaces since the Othoman period is surrounded usually with three or four rooms one over the other. “At the center of the rectangular room opposite to the entrance (see picture no. 7) there is Alcove which is another sort of saloon (sitting place) not separated by any wall from the broad room. This Alcove is called Qbou and the separated small rooms are cabinets called magsorat(47). The Alcove represents the reception place for men (see picture No.6). The room with the cabinets represents a sort of an apartment. When there are numerous of such apartments around the courtyard, the head of the family takes one, the other for one of his sons. There are easy accesses to achieve the services and to reach kitchen and servant places. That access should have easy contracts with the outside world but at the same time be away from thieves(48). This plan is guided by the house of IBN Abdullah in Tunis.

“The entrance door of the house in Shbam is usually made of hard wood carefully decorated. It opens to the storerooms and ladders of the upper floors. The central area of the ladders built with mud is important for these houses. Some of the large houses are built around a narrow passage to allow light and air to come inside while some houses have small stores at the ground floor, there are small openings in the lower floors.  The uses of the house are planed carefully to reflect the traditional separation between the two sexes. The second and third floors are usually assigned for use of men. Sizes of rooms re different, with smaller sizes used in cold months. The two floors above men’s rooms are used by women with a space to prepare and cook meals. Usually the rooms of the upper floors are less in number, some of them may be opened on the roofs of the lower rooms, and they are a series of fenced spaces that are used for sleeping outside during summer season. (22)

           Salma Samar AlDahlogy mention that one of the functions of the corridors that connect the upper floors of adjacent and opposite buildings in Shabam is to allow women to move between the different (Maraweh) which are the floors assigned for women, without being exposed to the outside(23). They are useful in making movement of women between the opposite houses possible without crossing the houses or be compelled to put on veils according to traditions(24). She says “The third floor is called (Maraweh) which include women’s living rooms; and is also used for marriage festivals …etc.)(25). The “Fourth floor is also used by women which include a big (Maraweh) with smaller maraweh above it. The latter opens to AlReem, which are the spaces of the roof, or rooms that are open to the sky(26). The fifth floor and above which is called AlTayarim or AlRyom i.e., the last upper two floors, the fifth and the sixth floors are assigned for married sons or for the living of the whole family. They are “designed with special walls  and entrances. Each have narrow openings in walls so as not to disclose the inside(27). Above all this, and for reasons that must be related to women, the buildings’ height in Shabam must not be less than five floors. This means that the owner must raise his building to either reach the height of the adjacent building or reach the level of (Reom). The reason as. Ms. Darilogy says is traditions and social habits that require the house not to be exposed from any of its sides to neighbors or the opposite buildings, and that the house itself should not be overlooking inside any of the buildings and expose the privacy of the inhabitants(28). This in other words means “Not to allow inhabitants to use Reoms (The roofs) in case the owner wishes to build three floors only as long as it will be open to the roofs of other buildings (……), this means vertical height is the only way possible in Shebam(29).

            The drawing is from the essay by Jolyon Leslie P.(62). The first to the right represent (Alazwad house)j the second represent the method of building in Burat of Yemen. Although the example we talked about do not speak about these two places specifically but talk about Shabam houses, the specifications of Yemen architecture in total are similar in its plans and functions; e.g. the separation between the sexes. From the (fig.) we can see the places assigned for men, the second and third floors where the windows are colored black in the drawing. The place assigned for women is above those two floors without windows but only small openings. This means that women were thrown in the middle of the building so that it would not be easy for them to touch the outside world. In addition, their access to the roofs is to facilitate their home works where ovens and other similar homework needs are available as shown in the drawing.

            Modern building affects and changes traditional social standards:

           The spread of buildings with numerous floors that are composed of apartments has made architectural changes and affected in one way or another human relations themselves, between neighbors and between members of the same family. The function of the patio (AlHosh) that aims to exclude women has been weakened in such high buildings. Women when going out of the apartment have no way except to use electric elevators and thus get in contact with the other inhabitants as women, children and men.

          In new quarters in Baghdad, Abu Dhabi and Ciro children no longer have large spaces to play there. The saloon room is changed to a new patio, while gathering in front of the television became the only occasion for a family meeting. This caused the break of human and emotion contracts between family members, as they would not talk to each other or exchange views.

  AlHebos area in Aldar Albayda, Morocco (taken by the writer 2003). It is noticed that there are no playing areas. Children play in any open space that the town allows them.

          Regarding the women status, it is clear that their traditional isolation in the old (Hosh) that resulted from a known social standard has changed only a little in the new architectural model.

          All that is related to living in new apartments; but as regards the villas, the Arab architect still pays considerations to the social and functional issue. He still insists to forbid or reduce the contact of women with the outside world. He provides daily services of high quality in a closed space, even though in another modern way, but he do not pay much attention to the spiritual prosper of inhabitants.

          Modern ness in architecture is being used and interpreted for the benefit of traditional concepts.

          It seems that the basic thing in the modern architecture in the Arab and Islamic world is that the space (patio), should be closed perfectly in-spite of all services available therein. That is why we do not see in the Arab world a building with wide transparent windows, like those made of glass, opening towards the outside (as those we see in Amisterdam) that allow at the same time spiritual and physical contacts between the inside and outside. In case there is such a window it would be covered with thick curtains and it would not be opened except in rare occasions, mostly.

  A general building in U.A.R. the picture represents women having a meeting. The large window here is only a decor. In-spite the window is very large, the curtain has abolished the outer world and separated women completely. The picture is taken form a Gulf magazine. We do not intend here to expose any of the women appearing there.

 The external walls have no aesthetic function:

           The Arab Islamic new architecture will build high walls around its luxury villas to complete the closing of the patio. The outer walls of the villa have no aesthetic function. They hide the beautiful design amongst other things.

          Rarely, when we look to the architectural drawings, we find a drawing for the surrounding wall(1), it seems as if they have never thought of constructing a surrounding wall.

          In other words the outer walls hide the aesthetic of the original plan(2).

          One Morocco architect suggested using the outer walls as a means to keep away heat by using horizontal arbors on the sides. This would secure the house and the rooms inside(3). This proposal again ignores the original beautiful plan of the house, which has never included such a wall before. This use of external high walls is not new. Abbas AlBaghdadi mentions in his book about Baghdad in the twenties of the last century, “Most of Baghdad houses were low and their walls were of salted mud and to prevent thieves from climbing, the upper part of the wall is filled matrimony, a thorny plant”. He added, “That is why the maintained honor is called matrimonized honor”. If there is no matrimony, broken bottles were planted to block away thieves(4). These houses were very simple and poor but the case of external walls in the rich Arab quarters do not differ even if their techniques and forms are different.

          The new Cornish roard in Abu Dhabi gives an example of the use of external walls around luxury villas. There the external walls hide the aesthetic design of the houses. In some cases, one can enjoy the beautiful design of the second floor, as the height of the external wall cannot veil it from those passing by.

          According to religious Arabic and Islamic concepts the outer walls may aim at keeping away envy eyes from the rich houses. It may aim to hide the richness. Here we see how the religious and ethical values interfere in the scope of architecture.

To the right, we see one of the lanes of old Kuwait town. The arch in Kuwait is the one that have over it a corridor that connect two opposite houses. In the picture we can see the arch and by its side a wooden bridge that connect two opposite houses. This is related to the passage of women for visiting so as not to cross the road, as they are considered (AWRA) same as genital organ. The wall hides the house completely. From the book fitted “old Kuwait” by Dr. Yacob Yousif AlHiji, 2001).

          To the left, a lane (Zangah in AlHabos area in Aldar Albaidah (taken by the writer, 2003). We can see the great resemblance of this lane and the Kuwaiti lane: the high walls, narrow windows, in addition to the arch that connect between opposite houses.

          This resemblance in architecture style between two geographical areas that are far away, in fact in the two poles of the Arab world, comes from the similarity of the condition of architecture there and from the status of women to which architecture concept pays much attention.

A glass wall for a house in Lebanon, AlNabtyah, of the houses of old AlSaray quarter, from the book (AlNabtya, in the memory), pictures and documents 1860-1999) for Ali Husssein Mozraani, Beirot 1999, P.152). The high wall hides the original simple design.

 An outer wall for a rich house in one of the quarters of Abu Dhabi (taken by the writer 2003). The design is guided by the Islamic Andelusi architecture through the arches and cylindrical pillars. This house is a new example of the function of the outer wall that separates the house from the outside world and hides the beautiful design. The repeated bends on the wall would like to be consistent with the arches but it became a burden on the design, and can be considered not important. The wall is more than the height of an ordinary person. He cannot see any person passing by near such outer wall.

References

1.      See for example: The architectural and color exposure, by Eng. Rabie AlHerstany, and Michel Allony, Dar Gabis Beirot, 1998.

2.      The plan shows the spaces and building’s joints as it appear from a sectional view. See: Drawing and exposing architectural plans, Eng. Emad Tanbakgy, Dar AlMaarifa, Damascus, P.(1), 1992, p.48.

3.      Dr. Muhi AlDin Salgini, The Architecture the Environment: Dar Gabis, Beirot, p.199.

4.      Abbas Baghdadi, Baghdad in the twenties, introduction by AbdulRahman Muneif, Arab est. for studies and publication, 2nd edition, 1999, p.278.

  ,

In my opinion, architecture does not mean to controlled Saudi women but it is the design of  that houses that follows the spirit of old customs and traditions. Most of the parts of the houses designed to protect women in and out of the houses.  Regarding the women status, it is clear that their traditional isolation in the old (Hosh) that resulted from a known social standard has changed only a little in the new architectural model.

          All that is related to living in new apartments; but as regards the villas, the Arab architect still pays considerations to the social and functional issue. He still insists to forbid or reduce the contact of women with the outside world. He provides daily services of high quality in a closed space, even though in another modern way, but he do not pay much attention to the spiritual prosper of inhabitants.

          Moderness in architecture is being used and interpreted for the benefit of traditional concepts.

          It seems that the basic thing in the modern architecture in the Arab and Islamic world is that the space (patio), should be closed perfectly in-spite of all services available therein. That is why we do not see in the Arab world a building with wide transparent windows, like those made of glass, opening towards the outside (as those we see in Amisterdam) that allow at the same time spiritual and physical contacts between the inside and outside. In case there is such a window it would be covered with thick curtains and it would not be opened except in rare occasions, mostly.

Cite this Does the architecture made to controlled women in arab world?

Does the architecture made to controlled women in arab world?. (2016, Jul 10). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/does-the-architecture-made-to-controlled-women-in-arab-world/

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