Architectural precedents and the exploitation of terminology in contemporary architectural design of Saudi Arabia
The research primarily deals with contemporary public architecture of Saudi Arabia. After more than 50 years of Western consultations in the fields of architecture and urbanism in Saudi Arabia, it is expected that a great deal of design experience was built up and that this is a resource that Western practitioners consult and reference. The reality however is to the contrary.
From a very limited repertoire of traditional forms, Western architects have produced a variety of architectural forms that are supposedly traditionally-inspired. The formal interpretations of these traditional/vernacular designs differ from one generation of Western architects to the next and I argue that these designs are much closer to global practice of architecture than they are to any traditional precedent regardless of how in the discourse they are often laboriously grounded to the locale.
This research explores architectural production of significant public buildings in Saudi Arabia from the 1960s until now in order to create a taxonomy of precedents (formal and conceptual) and link them to their contemporary interpretation. This in turns enables the analysis of architectural development over time and its comparison to global practice. Special emphasis is placed on the in-depth analysis of how common precedents (such as the courtyard) produce a variety of forms and the role of the discourse surrounding any building in determining the connection.
The purpose of this research is to challenge the status quo, increase awareness and expose the forces – architectural and non-architectural – that are shaping the contemporary architecture of Saudi Arabia and its discourse. Issues such as modernization, Westernization, Globalization and Orientalism are expected to feature to differing degrees throughout the decades under examination.
A qualitative research methodology of mixed methods will be used for this research and will include archival research, interviews with architects and clients and an interpretive-historical analysis.