Essay: Contemporary Craft

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¶ … Art of Building Construction in Al-Alkhalaf Village

Saudi Arabia

Understanding the difference between Vernacular and Modern architecture

Vernacular architecture is architecture which is representative of the anthropological and historical community in which it exists.

Modern architecture is architecture more representative of an increasingly global and technologically aware world view

Positives of Vernacular architecture

Provides a direct link with the contextual history of a given place, a view of the various changes and developments which a specific community has experienced

More environmentally aware, previous to this dependence on technology, architects had to use local materials as well as work with the natural geography of an area as opposed to reshaping nature to fit man's aesthetics

Effects of Modernization

a. Architects in order to conform to a more global aesthetic are abandoning sound historical building materials. Even when the material is climactically and historically appropriate (adobe in Saudi Arabia) newer materials perhaps less suited are being substituted for the sake of modernization.

b. A lack of awareness in regards to an area's unique history and geography often results in the use of inappropriate building materials or the use of architectural styles which are incongruous with the other buildings in the area.

c. Historic villages and towns are losing their sense of individuality and history as they are being rapidly replaced and renovated to reflect modern sensibilities.

d. Increasingly people are regarding perfectly sound historically relevant building materials as inferior to modern ones when that is simply factually in correct.

4. Al- Alkhalaf

a. Located in Asir which is a southwestern region of Saudi Arabia. The town is divided by natural topography into four discrete areas. The region is defined primarily by mountains, coast, or transition areas.

b. Geologically, this region is composed of granite base rock which is then covered by either sandstone or basaltie. These materials have allowed inhabitants of the region the use of stone and adobe as building materials for centuries.

c. The terrain of the village is naturally sloped which is a guiding factor in the development of architectural models.

5. Considerations

a. In the village, the size, shape, and style of the houses and associated buildings are all factors not only based on the climate and the topography of the region but also based on the cultural considerations of the people who live there

Architectural Decoration in Traditional Houses of Central Region of Saudi Arabia: Symbolism, Abstraction and Tradition

1. The central region of Saudi Arabi is a region where both interior and exterior decoration is extremely significant

a. This attention to detail is reflective of the cultural directive of hospitality.

b. The colorful exteriors as well tended gardens are intended to promote an inviting and attention grabbing.

2. Themes and Colors

a. Prior to 1932 the influences for much of the motifs were drawn from culturally relevant themes such as folklore and historical figures.

b. Many of the mythical figures depicted, interestingly, pre-date islam yet remain rooted the existing frame of cultural reference

c. Scenes from idealized desert life were also popular as they along with such rooted beliefs were easy and common midels and inspirations for artists

d. Though the colors used in more mythical scenes are necessarily vibrant, colors of the desert figure prominently as well in these artistic scenes. This combinations ultimately serves to blend the buildings and homes more effectively into their environment.

3. Art as a preserver of culture and tradition

a. Artists incorporate rituals as well as culturally significant talismans into their work which may have otherwise been lost to time. Religious as well as daily life scenes are extremely important in the preservation of culture.

The pattern of structural transformation of the Saudi

Contemporary Neighbourhood: The case of Al-Malaz,

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

1. Al- Malaz

a. Located 4.5 km north of the center of Riyadh.

b. It was built to accommodate the influx of government workers and their families following the move of the government from Makkah to Riyadh.

c. 754 detached dwellings were commissioned

d. The goal of this project was that the town could be used as a model for other towns throughout the region should it be successful

e. A gridiron plan was used with rectangular blocks featuring fairly large square plots for individual houses.

2. Regulations

a. The width of individual thoroughfares are distinguished between general thoroughfares and main thoroughfares. The latter being considerably wider across than the former.

b. A line was set in front of which no residential buildings could be built which set all houses back considerably from the street.

c. Urban boundaries were established which differentiated between rural and city affairs

3. Considerations

a. Many of the existing regulations are based solely on the aesthetic value of Al- Malaz as a model for future cities

b. This highly organized grid iron plan has been adapted for subsequent areas

The Diminishing Role of Windows from Traditional to Modern

1. Utility / Tradition

a. As the needs of people change, generally as a result of technological advance and altered regulation, the look of buildings changes as well

b. Specifically, the need for windows has been severely limited with the advent of air conditioning

c. The overall structures of houses is changing drastically specifically in the city of Jeddah as a result of air-conditioning reflected by the absence of Rowshans.

2. Rowshan

a. An enclosed window area which was common for escaping the heat of a home, generally built with room for sleeping and/or sitting it was a hub of social life within the historic city

b. Rowshans were a sign of social class generally determined by the time of material used to construct them.

c. The rowshan also figured prominently in weddings as well as town events. Women were able to lean out of the rowshan to participate in the celebratory carrying of the Dabash through the town. They were also able to communicate with each other and participate in town events

Revisiting Materiality

1. The meaning of material

a. Material is defined as any knowledge of the item which would affect an individual's decision making process. Or more simply information which will ultimately motivate a decision.

b. Material also applies to more abstract concepts, Black's law dictionary also defines "material" as significant or any information which is important enough to merit attention. This is an important distinction because it moved significance from a physical to an abstract concept.

c. The different meanings which can be applied to "Material" affect its implementation within contracts and other legal uses.

2. Material representation

a. Based on the relative broadness of the definition used for material, contracts can either be vastly inclusive or exclusive

b. It is up to the judge to determine what would be a trivial application of the term which can in some instances decide the outcome of significant court proceedings.

c. The flexibility of the term allows it to both protect and be used punitively

Asir Mountain Villages

1. Building Materials and Geography

a. Because the relative isolation of these villages individuals were often forced to use locally sourced supplies for their structural building

b. The reliance on local materials resulted in not only ideally suited buildings but also very distinct individuality not only within each village but even between the houses themselves

c. There are five distinct styles of architecture which have developed in the region depending on location.

2. Types of architecture

a. Adobe (mud) tower houses. This type of architecture is found primarily in Al Khalef

b. Stone apron tower houses. This type of architecture is pound primarily in Al Yazid, Dar Osman, & Al Khat

c. Mud houses and Slate houses primarily found in Al Basta

d. Thatched huts found in Tihamah which is a coastal plane

Wild Things

1. Design

a. Things created with a specific end view

b. The ultimate purpose of these "things" are as diverse as the objects themselves, and can in fact be extremely significant to denoting an individuals' place within society

2. Factors influencing design

a. Objects are purpose created. Their ultimate function will determine in part the nature of their design

b. The social meaning attributed to an object will also have a great impact on its ultimate design. Those objects which are held in high regard or are significant may be beautiful but no practical where as an object which is intended for regular use may be more simple yet extremely durable

3. The evaluation of the nature of an object's design is informative not only in terms of what the object was used for but also the people who used it and their position within society

4. The observation of individual objects may reflect aspects of the culture in which they were built otherwise lost to time.

The culture of craft

1. In modern times, the concepts of design and aesthetics have been divorced

a. Objects have been classified as either artistic or not

b. This separation implies an intrinsic difference between objects and art when in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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