This the comments received regarding this issue included: large

This paper tackles two problems that Kuwait is currently facing. The first is a lack in family dynamics, interaction, and communication. The second is a housing problem, in which the family is driven to build extra floors to house their children when they get married due to expensive land prices and the inconvenient proximity. According to a survey that was conducted regarding housing design in Kuwait, 67.2% feel that houses nowadays discourage family interaction and 25% stated that they rarely spend time with their family at home. Some of the comments received regarding this issue included: large and distant interior spaces discourage communication, lots of wasted space, discomfort in shared living areas which leads to more time spent in private rooms, and most living room areas are designed for guests rather than the family members. These results conclude that the design of current houses in Kuwait discourage the familial interactions that was present in the past and currently neglected. This is due to adopting westernized spatial plans and values that clash with Kuwait’s cultural and familial values. This transition caused a major shift in family dynamics that was noted through interviews, discussed throughout the paper, taken with individuals that have lived in both courtyard houses and what is now known as a villa. As a definition, courtyards are considered enclosed outdoor spaces but are normally open to the elements at their top. These courtyards have many benefits including climatic, environmental, social, and physical that make this design strategy worth revisiting today.First of all, courtyards have always been known for their ability to regulate thermal conditions. As such, they are often referred to as microclimatic changers. If well designed and landscaped, it has the ability to reduce high temperatures, channel breezes, and affect the humidity level in its zone. If water bodies such as fountains are used, it also has the ability to modify the surrounding environment by decreasing solar radiation and improving the thermal comfort for the users even during the summer months. It can also help reduce heat gain and thermal lag, therefore improving the overall building efficiency which reduces electrical and mechanical costs which minimizes financial burdens. 1As well as climatic adaptation benefits, courtyards also develop stronger bonds within a family by creating a space that encourages familial interaction. The basis of a courtyard design is the sense of offering an enclosed space open to the elements for the residents. This creates visual privacy from the street view, offering a sort of sanctuary with selective view control. It also acts as a sound buffer from the busy streets outside the plot line, which is even more beneficial for the families living by a main road. Circulation wise, courtyards generally function as the house center, much like Frank Lloyd Wright’s idea that the Hearth was both a psychological and a physical center for a typical family home in which he would wrap the family dwelling around a core formed by both the hearth and the kitchen. This design approach expressed his values about family and family life.2MHCourtyard houses can be traced back to the very first settlement of Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C. This architectural typology has endured and proceeded to live through several centuries with political, economical, cultural and religious changes. Found in what is currently known as Syria and Iraq, the traveling Arab nomads were the founders of the concept of a courtyard. During their time of rest from their travels, they would set up their tents in the desert in a manner where they would form a protected central space. This central space would house and shelter their cattle. The concept of a courtyard house was hence adopted in their permanent residence. It was an essential element found in an Arab house. The central space became a secure open living area. The house would provide the users with their social and physical needs. Although many link the courtyard house layout with its introverted plan with Islam, it was in fact created during the pre-Islamic era and adopted due to its suitability and privacy. The prominence was the regulation of the climate in the dry, arid countries, however the religious norms and laws molded and embraced this typology. The house would be built on the perimeter of the plot, with an entrance facing the courtyard. Minimal fenestrations were found ¬†towards the outside walls. The house would reflect the family statue, wealth and number of members. Bigger houses with two storeys would represent a larger family. Incase of a two storey house, a staircase would be on the side of the courtyard. MHLooking at traditional Syrian houses, which are said to be origin of courtyards, as a case study show that the courtyard played a vital role in the family dynamics. A small sized wooden door leads to a long, narrow corridor that ends with the courtyard. Although the entrance door was usually kept open due to the high level of security of the neighbourhoods, the long corridor allows the courtyard to be visually inaccessible from the outside. The exterior of the house would usually lack ornamentation and have a plain facade, while the interior would be the opposite. Revolving around the courtyard would be highly decorated facades of internal windows and walls with patterns and geometry, heavily landscaped with both decorative plantations as well as citrus trees. The modest exterior does not reflect the extravagant interior. A central fountain would occupy the courtyard. Having this water feature allowed for a cooler environment, enabling an open air seating area as a reception as well as a family gathering hotspot. A typical traditional house would contain a basement floor which is highly used during extreme weather conditions during the summer times. Using wind catchers, the hot, dry air is collected, cooled and humidified and later released to the courtyard. Other than a pleasant open space, the basement floor is also used for food supply storage. The ground floor would include reception areas, kitchen, toilets as well as bedrooms. With the extension of the family, another floor is added above to host small apartments. Although functioning independently, the family ties were strong as they lived together in one structure. The openness of the courtyard and the placement of the fountain became the hub where the entire family would gather and spend time together. ssSimilar to that in Syria, the courtyard used to be the focal point of a Kuwaiti house. It was a place where the family gathered and the children played. The family conducted several daily activities in the courtyard, as it was a private open space. It was a safe and secure place for children to roam around. Several Interviews were conducted with Kuwaitis that had lived in a courtyard house. “The house was more than 2000m2, inhabited by more than 17 family members. We spent all our time together, playing with my siblings and cousins in the courtyard. We had a tree in the middle where my father hung a swing for us” recalls Nabila Mohammed who lived in a courtyard house for the first 7 years of her life. Another interviewee who lived in a courtyard house for more than 20 years longs for the closeness of the family dynamics. She is nostalgic for the gathering of the family in the courtyard when they dined. When compared to the current situation of the family gathering, Hessa Ahmed was regretful to call it a family gathering. “The family gathering was a daily routine, now it is barely weekly. Everyone is locked up in their own house and room, I barely see those that I live with in the same house!” The last interviewee, lived in Bait AlOthman, which is currently a Museum, with her mother and 11 siblings. She recalls a very close bond with her sibling and extended family. That bond faded dramatically after they moved to a modernised house. “Everyone was too busy to see each other and everyone wanted to spend time in their own rooms” states Hiam AlOthman.ssModernization of Kuwait began after the discovery of oil in the 1940s, where the flow of wealth led to the employment of the British firm Minoprio, Spencely and Macfarlane to develop the first master plan in 1952. As a consequence, the urban fabric was reconstructed. Kuwaiti houses were redefined. New rules were set to regulate the size of a house, the materials used and the methods of construction as well as setbacks and neighbourhoods. The modern villa had replaced the traditional courtyard house. However, with the emergence of local architects and the raised awareness of the indigenous architecture of Kuwait, the elements of a traditional house pre-oil are reappearing. Being educated abroad, the architects that have returned back to Kuwait come to the realisation of the value of architectural heritage being a solution. The architectural elements that existed in a house were actually vital factors that played a role in the family structure as well as the built environment. Family and social relationships has weakened due to the highly privatised design of houses. High walls and setbacks discourage neighbour interactions. Glass taking over the majority of the facade hint for transparency, yet always closed off and sealed. ¬†Multiple attempts have been made to reemerge the courtyard houses in Kuwait through a modernised take. In 2012, MIIM Designs had explored the trend in Kuwaiti houses were apartments were built to host the extension of the family. Named 3 HOMES, the house designed had a central, shared courtyard that held together 3 residential units. This provided the privacy needed as well as the unity of a single family houseM. Massive Order, an architectural firm based in Kuwait, took another approach in designing modern, yet with traditional elements. Box House I, designed in 2009, similarly to 3 HOMES, housed 3 families in one house. With the facades closed off by stone cladding, emphasising the mass and mimicking the traditional courtyard house, provided a private spatial experience. The three apartments were stacked vertically, each overlooking a private courtyard. Each floor was configured differently to accommodate the different users. This is yet another attempt to adapt traditional architectural elements with the current trends. 6 years later, Box House II was constructed. With yet another courtyard at its core, the layout separated the living space from the bedrooms, similarly to that of a traditional house. The modernisation of the courtyard concept is emphasised in a sectional experience in this house. In 2016, AGi Architects, yet another architectural firm implemented a residential project that employs traditional architectural elements. Wall House was another design that closed off the exterior interactions and opted to interior openings. The interior spaces does not revolve around a central open courtyard, however it has pockets of patios, terraces and open green areas. The residence of the house still had their desired privacy, yet the pockets of open patios is the gathering hub. This is a different take on the courtyard typology, yet the essence of the concept still remains; proving that openness, the flow of natural ventilation and sunlight are vital. Figures 2-3 show exterior vs interior images of a desert courtyard house designed by Wendell Burnette Architects in Arizona. ¬†According to the architects, the client desired the comforts a courtyard house provided: air, light, privacy, security, and tranquility. This house is a great example of courtyards being reintroduced in a residential design in a contemporary way that suits the needs of the clients. 4In terms of plan, a courtyard doesn’t necessarily have a specific type, although the most commonly used is a square or rectangle at the center of the house. However, in some cases there are factors to consider such as plot size, building orientation, and site limitation. With such, modern courtyards are much more flexibly defined. Figure 11 shows varied forms for a single-family courtyard of one to two stories. In Kuwait’s case, the stories would be a bit higher to accommodate large families and built up area Contextually, Kuwait has been known for its courtyard houses in the past for reasons such as privacy and temperature regulation. However in the past few decades, the courtyard house seemed to disappear as the country became influenced by westernized designs that weren’t suited to neither the weather or the culture of the region. Current designs neglected the people’s need for privacy, efficiency, and functionality in favor of large villas with extravagant facades and intricate lawns that serve no purpose but to impress the neighbors and those who drive by. It is interesting to note that although this style was clearly suitable for both the country’s culture and its climate, it was overtaken by westernized design influences, resulting in an overall lack of identity through building design and a shift in family dynamics through the imported spatial hierarchy. In the past, the courtyard functioned as the magnet of a home and the center of family interactions while successfully bringing in nature, ventilation, and natural daylighting abundantly into the home. Therefore, it is essential to integrate contemporary courtyards into house designs today to greatly improve social dynamics within the family as well as improve the overall house experience with the injection of nature into a concrete world.3The re-introduction of the courtyard in a modern typology could be a solution to the issue of families building extra floors as apartments for their children as separate entities from the main house. Although is privacy is desired, there could definitely be a way to increase family bonds and interaction while maintaining this sense of individuality through intimate spaces that lead to the shared common ground, the courtyard. It would be a new typology in which the house is oriented around a central courtyard and would be divided according to apartment blocks for family members. The courtyard would act as a social magnet so the family can stay connected and interact together, while also discouraging renting the place out to strangers due to the desire to maintain privacy.This would solve the social dynamics between family members and the isolation that comes with creating separate floor apartments with private entrances through the design of the house itself.

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