A Working Model towards Understanding and Enhancing House Design in Saudi Arabia




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


This thesis investigates the conceptual-design process of privately built houses in Saudi Arabia. The objective of the investigation is 1) to identify the constituents of Saudi residential architectural design; 2) to develop a theoretical explanation of the design process incorporating both the architectural practice and the associated socio-cultural phenomena; and 3) to develop a model for designing privately built houses. The aim of the developed model is to improve the design process and thus enhance design outcomes physically and socio-culturally in the context of Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, the methods adopted in designing houses are in complete contrast to traditional methods and settings. At present, approaches in designing Saudi houses consists of an adapted Western concept of housing, combined with Saudi socio-cultural needs and inherited ideologies, which together create a distinctive approach to house design (HD). Therefore, the design of privately built houses (being predominantly villas) is viewed and investigated in this research as a phenomenon by means of Grounded Theory research methods. The data for this investigation were gathered through a number of sources, these being primarily field studies and interviews. A substantial range of concepts and socio-cultural manifestations related to HD are identified and grouped under 23 abstract categories constituting the phenomenon of HD in Saudi Arabia. These findings were then developed into a number of research outcome forms: 1) a structure demonstrating the conceptual constituents of HD; 2) a conceptual model outlining the relationships between the identified categories; and 3) a substantive theoretical explanation of the HD phenomenon. The research outcomes are then discussed in relation to a number of design theories, predominantly Christopher Alexander’s architectural theory and the associated design system, A Pattern Language. Through the discussion, it was concluded that this research’s outcomes could be referred to as The Pattern Language of Saudi HD. Consequently, the results were employed and developed further by adapting a number of existing design approaches to form a model for designing Saudi houses, namely the Saudi House Design Model (SHDM). The proposed model sets the foundations for a further complex design approach involving architects, users, socio-cultural dimensions, and the capacity for future changes as key aspects.





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