Probably for the first time the domestic architecture of the whole Arab Region, from the Atlantic to the Gulf, is being considered. In systematic fashion the factors influencing architecture are analyzed and the extent and character of the Arab Region are determined. Construction materials and building techniques are reviewed and the evolution of settlement from the nomad’s tent to the tightly packed town is discussed. The domestic planning elements are identified, from roof to basement and from the closed cell to systems of courtyards with loggias and galleries. Water and waste management also receive proper attention.
From this information traditional design strategies concerning privacy, variable space needs, environmental control and a specific concept of beauty are derived. Exceptions to the rule are identified as related to special geographic or climatic conditions, or the need for defense.
The analytical part is supported by a collection of more than 200 domestic examples from all thirteen countries comprising the Arab Region. Each building is briefly described and documented by means of plans, sections and elevations arranged for easy reading at uniform scales and with uniform reference numbers.
Having treated the traditional architecture, the author turns to present times and the impact of the West on Arab architecture. He contrasts Eastern and Western ways of planning and design, again largely based upon environmental differences. Old restrictions are compared with new freedoms, the Industrial Revolution and globalization are considered. The challenge of adaptation and integration is discussed through an exchange of views between an Iranian traditionalist and a Turkish modernist.
In an appendix brief appreciations of Hassan Fathy and the Aga Khan Program for Architecture are added, as well as two contemporary projects and planning guidelines for the region. A glossary with about 600 Arabic terms and a bibliography with credit references complete the work.
Friedrich Ragette has published standard books on architecture in Lebanon and Baalbek. He spent about 30 years teaching and practicing architecture in the Middle East. The past couple of years he was professor of architecture at the American University of Sharjah, which supported the preparation of this book through a reasearch grant.