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Architectural & Urban Distinctions of Historic Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Berlin, Germany, 27 Sept 2014)


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This is a presentation delivered by Hisham Mortada on architectural and urban aspects of Historic Jeddah, in Berlin, Germany, 27th Sept. 2014.

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Architectural & Urban Distinctions of Historic Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Berlin, Germany, 27 Sept 2014)

  1. 1. Architectural & Urban Distinctions of Historic Jeddah Hisham Mortada King Abdul Aziz University Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  2. 2. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time Traditional architecture of Jeddah has varied throughout history according to 2 factors: • Economic conditions of the city • Impressions of historians/travelers
  3. 3. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time In 1183, Ibn Jubair: Jeddah is a small fishermen village by the Red Sea. Most of its houses are huts of palm tree leafs.
  4. 4. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time In 1503 (Mamluki era), Ludovico di Varthema, described houses of Jeddah as beautiful.
  5. 5. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time In 1805, George Annesely, described the architecture and decoration of Jeddah’s buildings as impressive.
  6. 6. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time
  7. 7. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time In 1814, Burckhardt, gave an elaborated description of the wooden elements (rowshans and mashrabias) of the facades of Jeddah’s houses and their spatial distribution.
  8. 8. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time
  9. 9. Architectural Diversity Throughout Time
  10. 10. Design Determination Factors Despite the architectural diversity of Jeddah’s buildings, there have been constant factors that determined the design of the buildings: • Social Customs • Climate • External Influences
  11. 11. Design Determination Factors: Social Customs Based on Islamic values & teachings: • Separation between public and private lives: Gradual/hierarchal spatial order from public (street/entrance, men guests in ground floors)-semi-public/ private-private (females’/family’s spaces in upper floors) • Privacy of women/family’s life: upper spaces, facade treatment to prevent external visual intrusion.
  12. 12. Design Determination Factors: Climate Extreme heat and humidity, lack or absence of rain: • Spatial distribution & orientation: major living spaces toward desirable wind directions (north and west). • Façade treatments: wooden screen/cover (rowshans, mashrabiyas and windows) for maximum air ventilation, shade and shadow for air cooling.
  13. 13. Design Determination Factors The Cube
  14. 14. Design Determination Factors Openings for natural light and ventilation
  15. 15. Design Determination Factors Orientation
  16. 16. Design Determination Factors Blocking for privacy
  17. 17. Design Determination Factors The Result: Climatic (ventilation + lighting) + Social (privacy) factors
  18. 18. Design Determination Factors: External Influence Being cosmopolitan and gate to Mecca, Jeddah architecture has been influenced by the several civilizations that existed in Hijaz Region.
  19. 19. Design Determination Factors: External Influence • Current old houses of Jeddah are a reflection of the Mamluki era, during which the Rowashan appeared as a major façade element. • Egyptian Ottoman influence is evident in the spatial distribution and gypsum and wooden decorations of Jeddah houses. Nasif House, a typical Hijazi architecture evolved in the Egyptian Ottoman era
  20. 20. Architectural Features • External Form • Building Height • Spatial Distribution and Use
  21. 21. External Form • A cubical mass of 2-5 floors without major projections. • Skelton of four sides that are entirely opened, but covered with wooden elements (rowshans, mashrabiays, and windows in between), unique to Jeddah. • The only projections or breaks are the rowshans and mashrabiays, emphasizing the shading along the elevations.
  22. 22. Building Height • High rise, earlier buildings were 2-3 floors. • Late 19th and early 20th centuries, tendency for higher buildings (6-7 floors) was necessary due to limitation of land for construction within the walled city.
  23. 23. Building Height Higher buildings by the wall’s edges
  24. 24. Spatial Distribution and Use • High and low rise dwellings share similarities in spatial use. • Each floor has a specific function, almost. 2 Floor dwelling 3 Floor dwelling
  25. 25. Spatial Distribution and Use • Ground floor, more public and used to receiving male guests in Maqa’ad and has servants’ and storing spaces. It starts with a corridor (Dahliz) that precedes the entrance (1 or 2, depending on residents’ economic conditions).
  26. 26. Spatial Distribution and Use • First floor is also for receiving male guests and has cooking spaces.
  27. 27. Spatial Distribution and Use • Second floor, more private, and used mostly for sleeping (mabitat) and receiving female guests. Mabeet
  28. 28. Spatial Distribution and Use • Upper floors (3rd-5ht, etc.) have majalis or salons.
  29. 29. Spatial Distribution and Use • Due to land limitation, the absence of courtyard is substituted with roofs (kharjas) as open spaces for sleeping and females’ domestic activates such as laundry, etc. Also, these open spaces reduce the weight of the structure of the upper part of the building (less rooms more open spaces). Their privacy is considered by neighbors.
  30. 30. Spatial Distribution and Use
  31. 31. Spatial Distribution and Use • Room number varied according to economic conditions of residents.
  32. 32. Spatial Distribution and Use Space daily use pattern
  33. 33. Spatial Distribution and Use • In the center, the staircase is a tower, mostly a wind catcher covers the stair underneath. It is for ventilation.
  34. 34. Spatial Distribution and Use • With the presence of rowshans and mashrabiays, the staircase creates an airflow pattern that ventilates the spaces around. The height of the building enhances such pattern.
  35. 35. Architectural Elements • Rowshan: It is a 60-90 cm projected wooden skeleton covered with decorative wooden panels and screens. It covers the entire elevation of the upper floors.
  36. 36. Architectural Elements
  37. 37. Architectural Elements
  38. 38. Architectural Elements • Rowshan, Functions: a. Maintenance of the privacy of indoor spaces
  39. 39. Architectural Elements • Rowshan: Functions: b. Ventilation (middle panels are slidable and with louvers) c. Sitting/sleeping
  40. 40. Architectural Elements • Rowshan: Functions: d. Thermal insulation, solar rays reduction, and sandy air filtration
  41. 41. Architectural Elements • Rowshan: Functions: e. Shading the external surfaces (walls and street)
  42. 42. Architectural Elements Shading the external surfaces (walls and street)
  43. 43. Architectural Elements • Rowshan: Functions: f. Aestheticizing the building (highly decorated with engraved ornaments).
  44. 44. Architectural Elements • Required large amount of wood. Imported from southeast Asia.
  45. 45. Architectural Elements Different sides, different Rowshan arrangement
  46. 46. Architectural Elements Each Rowashan has its unique decoration layout
  47. 47. Architectural Elements • Mashrabia: Different from Rowshan in terms of size, location and function. • Smaller, mostly in majlis/salons. • Pots of water are placed on its base to cool the air passing by it.
  48. 48. Architectural Elements • Mashrabia Along with Rowshan, its artistic elegance adds to the building if not the city romantic uniqueness.
  49. 49. Architectural Elements • Windows: Large, some projection, protect the spaces behind from extreme light, noise and external visual intrusion.
  50. 50. Architectural Elements • Glass was substituted with screen panels of high decoration.
  51. 51. Architectural Elements • Doors: Massive, two panels of tek wood with heavy metallic nails and knockers.
  52. 52. Architectural Elements • Highly decorated with deep engravings. • Toped with a pointed or half circular arch surrounded by a decorative gypsum frame. • An indication of the handcraft and skill sophistication and creativity of local carpenters. • Painted in colors contrasting them from surrounding white walls. • Concern for residents, a symbol of economic and social status.
  53. 53. Decoration • Jeddah’s houses are rich with elements and patterns of ornaments on roof edges, rowshans, walls and ceilings. • Usually on wood, stones or gypsum surfaces. • Comes in 3 patterns: geometric, floral, and scripts (mostly Quranic). • Engraved or painted. Painted ceiling
  54. 54. Decoration Roof edges
  55. 55. Decoration • Main door is the most decorated part as it signifies transition from public life into private life, and a socio-economic symbol.
  56. 56. Decoration
  57. 57. Construction Materials • The construction materials used in the houses of Jeddah indicate the ability of residents to integrate with the surrounding environment. • As Jeddah has no mountains or forests, and its soil is salty and weak, inhabitants turned to the sea as a major source of construction materials, which, later proved to be in durable and sustainable. • Materials used: • Coral stone • Wood • Gypsum
  58. 58. Construction Materials: Coral Stone • Cut from underwater reefs or the shore of the Red Sea. • Al-Mangabi or al-Arbaeen Lake, north of the city, outside the wall, was the main source. • As it was light and weak, it was protected from humidity and air salinity with a thick layer of lime plaster (nora), and wooden pieces (ganadel) that absorbed cracks resulted from stone size reduction after drying. This has maintained the survival of may buildings for more than 400 years. • Cementing material that used to glue coral stones with each other was taken from the deep bottom of the lake. It was strong and adhesive. It was also used as water proofing from the floors of roofs and lower parts of the external coral walls. This technique was unique to Jeddah.
  59. 59. Construction Materials: Coral Stone
  60. 60. Construction Materials: Coral Stone
  61. 61. Construction Materials: Wood a. Structure: ceilings, walls, ganalde from tek to prevent walls from collapsing if exposed to salinity and humidity. Also for staircase steps.
  62. 62. Construction Materials: Wood b. Decoration: Rowshans, mashrabiyas, windows and doors. Mostly imported in large quantities.
  63. 63. Construction Materials: Wood
  64. 64. Construction Materials: Wood
  65. 65. Construction Materials: Wood
  66. 66. Construction Materials: Wood
  67. 67. Fourth. Construction Materials
  68. 68. Construction Materials: Gypsum • mostly in decorating facades, framing doors and windows. Painted in white color as a protection from climatic conditions.
  69. 69. Urban Distinctions • Urban Compactness: Climatic, social & human values
  70. 70. Urban Distinctions Urban compactness shaped by narrow zigzagged alleys
  71. 71. Urban Distinctions Street configuration: shading, air wind pattern
  72. 72. Urban Distinctions Open spaces of social quality
  73. 73. Urban Distinctions Mixed land uses
  74. 74. Summary & Conclusion In June 21st, 2014, the UNESCO has registered Jeddah in World Heritage List. Such a historic decision was not only because of the architectural and urban distinctions of Historic Jeddah, but also because of its Universal Value.
  75. 75. Danke für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit!