Guide to residential architecture in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a land of many riches. And usually what comes to mind when thinking about Saudi Arabia is oil and beautiful Islamic architecture. There are many beautiful mosques, buildings, and houses in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has its architectural style which goes back many centuries. In the meantime, that style has evolved, but it still has many elements of old Islamic Arabian architecture. What sets apart Arabian architecture from the architecture of the rest of the world is its beautiful and masterfully crafted ornaments and not only that. However, not so many people are familiar with residential architecture in Saudi Arabia. This is what we are going to explore in this guide, and we hope that we can give you a quick overview of residential architecture in Saudi Arabia. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

Understanding different parts of Saudi Arabia and traditional architecture

Many foreigners, unfortunately, tend to think that the geography of Saudi Arabia is uniform. What comes to mind when thinking about the climate of Saudi Arabia is endless stretches of the desert and nothing more. While that is true for many parts of Saudi Arabia, there are a lot more geographical features in this country. Why is that important? Well, every architect will tell you that geography is the main factor for the architecture of an area. So leave behind your misconceptions when moving to Saudi Arabia.

The impact of climate on residential architecture in Saudi Arabia

A desert.
Many people think only of the desert when they think about Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is much more diverse than that.

People divide modern-day SA into four distinct regions. Due to the unique geographical location of this country, the climate and geography vary from region to region, and this is why the style of architecture in each region is different. The residential architecture in Saudi Arabia is most affected by those properties. But it has some similarities with the residential architecture of neighboring countries, like Kuwait.

The architecture of the Hijaz region

People praying in Mecca.
The Hejaz region is home to Mecca. Mecca is the holy site of Islam.

Hijaz is located in the west of the Arabian peninsula. The climate in the Hijaz region is hot and humid, and Hijaz is located in the coastal plain along the Red Sea. This has a crucial impact on architecture in this region. People consider the Hejaz region as the heart of Islam since Mecca is located there. This is why the local architecture can be very traditional and is certainly defined by Islamic fate. Also, the fast-growing city of Jeddah located there, and many people who move to SA, move to Jeddah. If you want to move to the Hejaz region, you’ll need to rent storage while moving into your Jeddah home.

Most commonly, the structural skeleton of the typical house in the Hijaz region is made up of large coral columns. It also features wood floors and roofs. The sitting room is generally located on the ground floor, but the more private sitting room is usually located on the first floor. Now, the sleeping room is usually located on the upper floor, and that is because of the hot and humid climate of this region. There is better ventilation on the upper floors, and the sea breeze will pass through the sleeping room more easily.

The architecture of the Najd region

Like the Hijaz region, the Najd region also has a hot and humid climate, typical for Saudi Arabia. But, unlike the Hejaz region, this region is not on a plane. Since the Najd region is located in what one may think as a typical desert, the difference in temperature between the night and day is extreme.

Guide to residential architecture in Saudi Arabia. Quran is a big part of it.
Islam is the focal point of architecture in Saudi Arabia. If you want to recognize this, continue reading this guide to residential architecture in Saudi Arabia.

Typically, the houses in the Najd region are two stories high. People there usually build their houses around the large central courtyard. The shape of the central courtyard is usually symmetrical and regular, and it is like a rectangle or square. This open courtyard functions as “lungs” of the houses, since it regulates the microclimate of the complex. It also provides a private space for the family that lives there. People sleep on top of the house in the summer. The exterior walls are very thick, up to three or four feet, and that provides excellent isolation from the elements. Those houses are not expensive to build if you are going for a more traditional style. However, this is where modern style meets tradition. Many of those homes even have gyms!

The architecture of the Persian Gulf region

The Persian Gulf region has a very different climate from the rest of the country. Of course, the weather is also hot there, but the air is humid, unlike in the rest of the county’s climate. This impacts the architecture of the region differently.

The traditional house in the Persian Gulf area has a courtyard style balcony around the house. It is a popular home improvement in Saudi Arabia. It is a rare sight that a house beyond three floors in this region. Houses are usually one to three floors high. The walls in this region are sometimes even thicker than those in the Najd region.

The architecture of the Asir region

The Asir region is different than all of the regions we mentioned here. It is a mountainous region in the southwest of the country, People know this region as a mountain region with a Mediterranean climate. Summers are dry and winters are rainy. This surprises many people.

Houses in this region are usually up to three floors high. In each house, there is at least one room for male reception which is separated from female quarters.

Modern and postmodern residential architecture in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia became a rich country very fast. That means that there is more and more modern and postmodern architecture in this country. Usually, foreign architects design new buildings all over the place in Saudi Arabia. Modern and postmodern styles are becoming more and more common through Saudi Arabia, usually in large cities such as Riyad and Jeddah. Even companies like Four Winds SA have modern architecture. In Saudi Arabia, modernity meets tradition, and that is cherished in the residential architecture of Saudi Arabia.

Also, there are a lot of megaprojects in Saudi Arabia. Wealthy individuals and the state usually fund more modern styles of architecture. Architects try to mix modern styles with traditional styles. And they are doing well. Many architects from all around the world come to Saudi Arabia to work on modern builds.

So, if you want to visit Saudi Arabia, now is the time. Also, many US citizens now live in Saudi Arabia, especially in Jeddah. Many of them are in SA for work, and many of them are here to enjoy. Good luck!


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