Sunday, August 20, 2006

Courtyards: An Internal Paradise

Palais Rhoul's Living Room. Marrakech. Photo by Equalizer

Once aspect of design that has sadly taken place in large areas of the Gulf is the abandonment of local architectural features. The region had taken an ugly detour into trying to imitate architectural features of other countries in a very cheap way. The idea as a whole is wrong, because we happen to have architectural features that are beautiful in their own rights.

One of the main features that was abandoned was the courtyard layout in traditional houses. The courtyard has many benefits, especially for conservative countries such as Gulf countries and the lack of natural habitat. There are exceptions tot the rule in certain pockets of the Gulf in terms of courtyard usage, but the local architectural elements should always be in use at all time. I think what is happenening is a disaster to the local cultural identity. There has been many places that had transformed traditional architectural into a modern design based on traditional elements. One of the finest example I could think about is the Chedi in Muscat.

I think there are many way to transform a courtyard into your own garden of paradise. Paradise by the way comes from Cyrus's Paradaiso or Perdos, which means a walled garden. In arabic it is al ferdaws. Transforming your courtyard into a walled garden is just as simple as having a Japanese zen garden or a more lush and tropical garden. The inclusion of a pool and a dining area also provided an added function to the area. Having the courtyard as the focal point of the house has a much better view that the current view of Tanzifco (waste management company) garbage bins with cats lingering around with bits of machboos on their mouth.


Blogger Jewaira said...

Very good point. Enjoyed this post

8/20/2006 02:02:00 AM  
Blogger Shaolin Monkey said...

Its true, it is such a crushing blow to humanity to eliminate the courtyard, when I was a child that was my have a courtyard, and now that I am a man I will achieve my dream, I am going to finally have my beloved I can slap an official WWF full size wrestling ring right in the middle and perform the moves that I was forbidden from executing in my childhood like "the flying monkey" and "banana death from above" I will have amateur nights every wednesday where eager participants from all over the neighborhood can come and practice their piledrivers and grappleholds and at night the ring can double as a candle lit elevated outdoor dining area, thank you equalizer for touching my very soul.


8/20/2006 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger let them eat cake! said...

Many friends of mine in bahrain still have courtyards.. they are gorgeous. About the whole idea of us borrowing different architecture styles in kuwait.. its terrible, there are coloumns and arches, balconies and strange temple-like items shooting out of peoples rooftops.. and the colours .. i wont start on that. I had some friends from abroad visit me and they described kuwaits architecture as giant cheap looking wedding cakes.. I think the reasoning that we do have the coloumns and etc is the same reasonthe whitehouse looks that way.. to give the connotations of power and importance.. we have issues, they show up in the way we talk, act, and now.. they show up in concrete.. permanent representations of our complex society.

8/20/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cuteberry said...

Do you offer your design-services? If yes, then we have a huge courtyard than needs ALOT of work... I really want a pool in there.. I hate the fact that we have an indoor pool :/ how the heck would that help me tan?! :/

P.S: A special comment for you has been placed in my last post. check it out!

8/20/2006 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Jewaira: I'm glad you did.

Shmonkey: Youre welcome! I think you pretty much summed up why a courtyard is a better feature! Don't forget the "wobbling banana split"

Let them eat cake aka LTEC: I agree alot of those people think of the vision of grandeur and want to convey that message. The other message that they also give out is, I hate my past, not proud of it, and want to look like someone I aint.

Cuteberry: well am not a designer, but i can help with idea. can't help with tan department though. :p

8/20/2006 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger LaiaLy_q8 said...

i remeber seeing a house in Al-tha7yaa that was new but looked old (like the old houses) we actually pulled in to the fereeg just to get a closer look

i agree, we should go old school :) but modern can be nice too if done correctly

8/21/2006 01:21:00 AM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Laialy: Modern can only be good in the right environment. Also note that the best modernist works have taken the environment into consideration. You dont want a something that sticks out with no reason. We have several attempts here in Kuwait and most were a failure. Case in point, the on in tha7ya. All concrete with no soul and no character. End of the day it not Tadao Ando that designed it.

8/21/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Entrepreneur said...

This country lacks any decent architecture. In fact, even the new sky rises are pathetic in comparison to international standards. We have the money, we just fail flat when it comes to execution.

Im interested in the finished result of the World Trade building, and Burj Arraya.

8/21/2006 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Entrepreneur: True, lets not forget Kuwaitis are stingy when it comes to paying for consultants for any service. The result is something very cheap, and surprisingly they love it! The best building in Kuwait will be the 70 floor Al Hamra designed by SOM. I'm not sure if you can find any images on the net.

8/21/2006 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Entrepreneur said...

They dont call us jews of the gulf for nothing!

yeah baby!

8/22/2006 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi equalizer
i personaly think we should pay more attention to the concepts of the traditional architecture rather than gluing the visible "traditional elemnts" on our new buildings . it s not that functionless chandal or beige coloured walls what gives the q8o identity.i belive that Tadao Ando experiment with the japanes traditinal architecture can help " he reintreduced the space , spirit , moments of the traditional architectur while using completely modern materials , techniques in his designs " it s not walking backward it s just don't forget who u were
thank u

8/25/2006 11:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again
Talking about the skyscrapers
those of New York 4 example have not only concerned designs but also strong structure usually made of costy long lasting steel , those would stand for hundreds years and giving the city its own distinguished skyline .
what we have here in q8 or even in Dubai can stand for only 20 years in function as a structural engineer can say , so obviously our sky scraper are not build for any benefit more than their owner's
any way am glad there are some careing q80s ;)

8/26/2006 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Anonymous: I agree with what yo are saying, bt discussing architecture in Kuwait will lead to no where. what is happening is permanent damage. What do you do with all those brand new ugly as hell buildings? Who is responsible for that? The lack of strict building codes means that people with bad tastes can damage at their own will. The minicipality is so corrupt that all they care about is getting more bribes. Welcome to q8.

8/26/2006 02:18:00 AM  

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