Wednesday, May 11, 2011


   Back to the topic of Iraqi vernacular. Shanasheel on the external elevation are small and few in number to reduce heat gain in the summer and provide security against burglars. These windows are too high for passers-by to look in the house. 

Mass grouping of homes

Oriental courtyard houses are grouped in mass form to expose an absolute minimum area to the sun.  The groupings produce alleyways that are shadowed by external projections of the first floors and roofs of these houses.  These help keep the external environment cool in summer and protected against rain in the winter.  

     There is a definite hierarchical order in the formation of these alleyways.  Many enclose large blocks of houses, which are divided into smaller blocks by narrower alleyways that lead to closed alleyways (American equivalent: the cul-de-sac). The closed alleyways provide more security for inhabitants, as they exclude nearly all strangers and passers-by.   
     In the early 1930's, foreign architects arrived in Iraq who did not understand or appreciate the sustainability of this type of courtyard house plan, and a Western or Closed style house became introduced.

Sections drawing of courtyard style home

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