House for a Sheikh
A private family residence with a complex brief, due to the fact that the house is realised using traditional Islamic domestic space planning philosophies and that despite the difficult and sometimes extreme climatic conditions the desire was to make the house function as passively as possible, using natural ventilation and lighting. These paradoxically opposed and distinct accommodation needs present within the house are resolved through a subtle separation and formal organisation of segments around a central double-height domed courtyard, and then by a sensitive interconnection through passages, permitted view shafts or formal spaces of congregation.
Qatar - Doha // Private residence // 1.742m² built, 5.017m² plot // Climate: hot desert climate
Cool layers Layers of insulation according to each room’s climatic needs. A thoughful building orientation, the use of shade and insulation and the layering of façade elements are incorporated and expressed solutions to the climatic conditions, the most striking being the woven Kevlar curtains as an exterior second skin, highly effective in solar protection and wind filtering while their inherent translucency allows for natural illumination.
Cultural background Gender segregation. When designing for a traditional Qatari family, it’s a challenge to keep the three groups completely separated: men, women and servants. As if this wasn’t already a challenge, in this case a fourth groups had to be considered: the son of the Sheikh.
These complexities are solved constructively within an elegant composition employing a juxtaposition of traditional elements and forms of mass construction with technologically modern materials, systems and solutions such as the translucent, ventilating double skin. The areas of distinct accommodation in the house, present opposing needs within the house between public and private, service and family, male and female areas, are subtly separated and formally organized around a centrally placed two-storey patio, visibly the highest element of the house. This domed circular element, punctuated with openings and Arabian screens, is fulcrum to the controlled circulation routes and ocular to permitted view shafts, so is at once door and window, opening and veil. The plan is a collection of these distinct zones radiating from the central patio, arranged as a series of masses alternated with the voids of the visitor entry / courtyard and the garage / family entry spaces, furthermore expressed with walls that stretch out into the site.
The effect of this composition of radiating walls is that the spaces are embraced, the exterior façades are wide (and therefore the opportunity for openings providing natural illumination and ventilation is great), and a strong view shaft is created towards the central tower of the patio. In additional to the central defining doctrine of Islamic design was the important factor of the local climate; harsh and extremely hot.
Careful building orientation, the use of shade and insulation and the layering of façade elements are incorporated and expressed solutions to the climatic conditions, the most striking being the woven Kevlar curtains as an exterior second skin, highly effective in solar protection and wind filtering while their inherent translucency allows for natural illumination.
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We are a house of design based in Barcelona with projects ranging from medium to large scale around the globe: from object to urban planning.