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«CSAAR (7: 2010: Amman) Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development \ Edited by Steffen Lehmann, Husam Al Waer, Jamal AI-Qawasmi. Amman: The Center ...»

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In order to achieve the desired goals, a comparative study between traditional and contemporary outdoor spaces' features, depending on the survey results and the analysed traditional charaeteristies, was adopted. Herein, for this comparison, whieh is influeneed by Wheeler's directions for urban sustainability, particularly those related to housing sustainable development (e.g. 1- Compact, effieient land use; 2- Effieient resource use, less pollution and waste; 3- Good housing and Muhannad Haj Hussein, Aline Barlet & Catherine Semidor living environments; 4-Preservation of local culture and wisdom, and 5­ Restoration of natural system) (Wheeler, 1998, p. 439), the following

comparative characteristics arose:

I. Traditional and contemporary housing configurations and layout.

2. Spatial, visual distribution and relationship.

3. Privacy and communality.

4. Accommodation ofresidents' activities.

5. Environmental considerations.

The comparison provides an assessing method of such spaces role In enhancing quality of residents' life.

2.2 Climatic characteristics or sites

The targeted cities' selection depended on two conditions: 1- different socio­ demographic and topographie characteristics, 2- different climatic characteristics in an attempt to find out their impact on housing buildings' morphology and typology and residents' satisfaction.

Palestine is a Mediterranean country in which the Palestinian territories (6100km2) represent 23.11 % of the total area of Palestine. The technical report prepared by Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ, 2003) has defined seven climatic zones in this small area of territories. i.e. five zones are in West Bank (Figure I) and the other two found in Gaza. Moreover, Jericho and Nablus were selected as representative case studies for two climatic zones.

Figure 1: The tive climatic zones of West Bank.

Jericho, located in the Jordan Valley, has hot-dry summers and warm winter, while Nablus, located in a mountainous area, has warm sub-humid summers and a cold winter. Table 1 shows the climatic data for each city.

Sustainable Architecture and Urban Devclopment

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3 First Comparison Results

3.1 Traditional and contemporary housing configurations and layout Indigenous used to build their houses in harmony with the environment reflecting family's structure, lifestyle, eulture, elimate and building stuff.

In Jerieho, an oasis settlement, people used to build their mud houses beside water resourees, to be used for farming (Nazer, 2006). The simplieity of these houses reflects their primitive lifestyle. The traditional house, which frequently consisted of one storey, usually eontained a wide and private outdoor spaee ­ Hosh- enclosed from all sides with an irregular layout. The living and service spaces havc defined the enc\osure eoneept of the house (Figure 2). A covered outdoor space, loeally called iifastabeh, had been used as a eomfortable and shaded outdoor sleeping plaee (Hanbali et al, 1999) (Figure 2).

11. -- 1",ng,pK'j Figure 2: Configurations and layout oftraditional houses in Jerieho. (Adjusted by kind permission ofHanba/ij.

In other eases, the borders of the living spaces were insufficient tor a eontinuous enclosure around the outdoor spaee, so additional peripheral walls (Figure 3), which usually could exeeed the eye's level, wcre added to identify thc house's domestie territory and to ensure privaey.

276 Muhannad Haj Hussein, Aline Barlet & Catherine Semidor Figure 3: Using the peripheral walls for identifying the enclosure ofthe courtyard. (Adjusted by kind permission ofNazer).

Nablus is considered "Damascus of Palestine" due to the strong economical and social relationships with Damascus of Syria, which played a substantial role in the Nablusis' lifestyle and architecture (Khasawneh, 2001). The old city of Nablus contained compact clustered courtyard houses (Figure 4), with a square or rectangular form surrounded by house's spaces (Awad, 2003) having inward looking into the courtyard, are usually perpendicular to each other despite of any plot geometry.

Figure 4: Traditional houses in Nablus.

Such houses consist of one to three stories as maximum, where the ground floor is usually used for commercial and industrial activities (Ahmad, 2008) (figure 5). Adoption of introverted concept for housing design was effective in consuming the entire building plot and minimizing the urban land waste (Amad, 2003).

Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development 277 Figure 5: the commercial activities in the old town ofNablus.

Unlike traditional settlement, contemporary housing areas are scattered and dispersed. The detached houses and apartment blocks (Figure 6) are prominent in both Jericho and Nablus and have lost their local identity.

The findings of the survey reveal that (47%) of Nablus buildings consist of five to seven floors while (70%) of those in Jericho consist of less than three.

According to urban planners interviewed. these figures seem to be areal representative sampIe ofurban environment ofthe case studies.

Modern buildings are constructed in the center of the building plot leaving setbacks -according to new urban regulations- around each block to be used as common outdoor spaces.





Figure 6: Examples of contemporary apartment blocks in Nablus and detached houses in Jericho.

Regarding private outdoor spaces, verandas and balconies are the most frequent forms in both typologies (Figure 7). Moreover, a private yard or a garden is mostly created on the remaining space of building plot in the case of detached hauses.

Aline Barlet & Catherine Semidor Muhannad

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The comparison revealed some financial benefits as though court yard housing of low-rise and high-density has proved to be efficient in land use.

Besides, the sharing walls in these attached and grouped models require less maintenance and construction cost. Nowadays, high-density can be reached by multiplying floors number, and apartments while reducing the buHt site area for the sake of the new useless setbacks. In this perspective, Martin and March ( ] 972) stated that court yard model was better than the detached form regarding land use efficiency and economic sustainability: "The court/orm is seen to place the same amount offloor ~~pace on the same site area with the same condition 0/ building depth and in approximateZv one-third the height required by the detachedform" (p. 38).

3.2 Spatial and visual relationship

The central location of a courtyard in the traditional housing design enhances its advantage as the core organizing space of the house as most of the spaces have direct access to it, especially the living spaces "Iwan" where a fluid relationship between the two spaces was observed, which ensures a functional continuity forming an extension to each other promoting collective use. In addition, a visual relationship was ensured by the inward looking scheme was accentuated between the central court yard and the different indoor spaces through windows.

Nowadays, the traditional courtyard was replaced by an artificially lighted corridor in thc centre of a house, small balconies relegated to the periphery ofthe housing block and yards created on either the surrounding or the rear of the housing plot. The survey's results reveal that most new outdoor spaces are connected to one indoor space, while connecting two or three indoor spaces to the same outdoor space is rarely observed. The kitchen, or the bedrooms or the guest room are the most indoor spaces directly connected to outdoor spaces.

Hence, this transformation trom introverted design into extroverted had limited both spatial and visuaJ relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces of the housing units, which reduced the opportunity those modem outdoor spaces be used collectively.

Sustainable Architecture and Urban Moreover, the traditional Iiving space "Iwan" was replaced by an interior living room away from any connection with the exterior environment, which redueed natural ventilation and lighting inside. Consequently for improving natural lighting and thermal discomfort, 62% of housing units in Jericho and more than 45% in Nablus were designed aecording to the western open plan coneept (Figure8), in which no partitions are used between the Iiving, dining, guest rooms and the kitchen in some cases, though this eontradicts the Palestinian family privacy issue where the separation between private and public spaees, i.e. guest room, is indispensable. 64% of respondents rejeet this trend, whereas for those who aceept it; they refuse engaging the guest room in such a design.

–  –  –

Moreover, as a way of enhancing the environmental quality inside the living rooms, and getting a spatial extension connecting outdoor spaees to the living room is more preferable in future housing than connecting it to the guest room (over 65% in Jericho and 35% in Nablus).

3.3 Privacy and communality The Palestinian cities, as weil as the Arabian, were established in accordance with the community's va lues (religious, social and cultural), enhancing social life while respecting the privacy of each member (Bada, 2006). The traditional Palestinian settlements have succeeded to achieve the equilibrium between these two paradoxical principles (privacy and community). The courtyard, which was considered the sacred space for privacy and comfort inside houses, shaped the basic element that organized the wh oie city, while the shaded streets were the place of social life. In some cases of extended family that lives in the same house, the court yard itself was used as a common space, while each nuclear family has its own private outdoor space (e.g. small courtyard or Iwan in Nablus, Mastabeh in Jericho).

Today, to co pe up with litestyle changes due to new technology and western intluence, new concept of detached and free-standing blocks with surrounding Muhannad Haj Bussein, Aline Barlet & Catherine Semidor unplanted area and shapeless urban spaces have replaced the traditional concept of compact courtyard housing, but failed to promote the sociallife due to the lack of collective activities (Ghadban, 1998), which, nowadays, have to be designed on the set backs left around each apartment block, according to the new urban regulations, and the lack of municipal surveillance as though (Touffaha, 2009).

Privacy, which is a socio-cultural criterion, was behind choosing courtyard as a crucial element in Islamic house planning (Azab, 2008). The inward looking concept and the enclosure principle of the traditional courtyard have protected residents from both neighbours and passers-by curiosity. As for the current private outdoor spaces, 52.7 % 01' dwellers in NabJus and 43.4% in lericho are disappointed of privacy low levels at their spaces. Women are most aflected, 66% showed dissatisfaction. Moreover, privacy aflects the period of using those spaces rather than their orientation towards the sun, regardless of the season.

Hence, residents have applied individual modifications to their outdoor spaces seeking more privacy, such as window boxes, canopies and enclosed outdoor spaces by aluminium windows (Figure 9), not to mention their environmental benefits too.

Figure 9: Individual modifications to the modern outdoor spaces.

The comparison showed that privacy and social Iife, the socio-cultural priorities in the Palestinian community, have enhanced the sustainable social quality in the introverted court yard concept more than the extroverted contemporary outdoor spaces.

3.4 Accommodation for dweUers' activities The courtyard, which is the he art and the focal space in the traditional Palestinian houses, derives it5 importance from its multi-purpose functions. 11 hosts the various socio-fonnal celebrations such as weddings and funeral ceremonies side by side, domestic activities such as kid's play, eating, collective cooking, sleeping, entertaining, family and women gatherings, etc. In fact the sufficient area of courtyard, (almost 20% of the total area of the house), has encouraged preserving such activities.

Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development 281 Nowadays, the outdoor spaces have been reduced to approximately 5% of the total area of a unit, which restricted the activities implemented. About 43% of the respondents prefer having a large outdoor space even for the sake of reducing interior, Regardless of its importance.



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