Project: A Tale of Two Houses
(Background) (Hypotheses) (Methodology) (Analysis) (Conclusion) (References).
Earlier Comparisons of Traditional and Contemporary Architecture
Detail of Mashrabiya, Source: Fathy, 1986
Previous studies indicate that the provision of high thermal resistance structures in
hot dry climates might lead to energy conservation (Mehta, 1989). High thermal resistance
can be provided using small thermal mass with sufficient insulation or a large thermal
mass with no insulation. The interactional effect of thermal mass and thermal resistance
on energy conservation and indoor comfort however is still not determined (Mehta, 1989).
Similarly, the use of the courtyard house prototype in old Arab towns was environmentally
successful with respect to the outdoor shaded narrow streets of their urban fabric.
However, there is a lack of studies documenting the success of such a prototype when used
for suburban modern housing (Cook, 1989). Moreover, most of the research documenting the
successful thermal behavior of traditional Arab and Islamic architectural elements,
considered the users' life style to be similar to their predecessors. With the advent of
modern technologies in these societies this assumption needs further investigation
(Rapoport, 1994). In addition, when evaluating the success of traditional architectural
elements in conserving energy, one has to acknowledge how the users would respond to these
elements on a utilitarian functional level and a symbolic level related to the association
of meaning, aesthetics, and preference (Rapoport, 1990; Abu-Lughod, 1993).
Based on the above, this study hypothesized that the new interpretation of the
traditional architecture emphasized in Hassan Fathy's architecture would:
(1) have better thermal performance as compared to contemporary modern architecture,
(2) reduce energy levels due to natural heating and cooling, while maintaining
satisfactory comfort levels of the occupants, and
(3) produce an architectural language that satisfies the user's needs and
"wants" while maintaining the traditional heritage of the region.
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