Study on the visual performance of a vernacular dwelling in Egypt

Sura Almaiyah, H. Elkadi, M. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vernacular architecture is a term often used to categorize structures built outside of academic tradition. The distinguishing feature of traditional vernacular is the development of various architectural solutions over many generations of traditional society to create a more comfortable microclimate using natural energy sources only (Fathy, 1982). Most recently, this subject of traditional vernacular has become the focus of serious academic studies and the current trend in practice towards “green” approaches to design has led to the reappraisal of many traditional buildings and settlements concerning their environmental performance. The influence of climate in shaping the uniqueness of the traditional architecture of the Arabian region is widely recognized. Many scholars have discussed the environmental performance of traditional buildings and settlements in the Arabian region which were formed under the infl uence of the physical, technological and socio-cultural structure of a society and in harmony with its climatic conditions. However, despite the attention given to traditional vernacular of this region, research on visual and thermal comfort in compact urban environments in hot-arid zones in general (Tablada et al, 2009), and in the Arabian regions in particular, is rather limited and scarce. Many studies that deal with this subject matter tend to focus on assessing the environmental performance of buildings (e.g. Al-Shareef, 2001; Manioglu, 2008) in isolation from its urban context. Given the fact that much of the character of these traditional regions came from the collective visual perception of their architecture components as well as urban patterns, this paper aims to investigate the impact of the characteristic of the dense narrow streets of medieval cities on the visual performance of a typical courtyard house in Cairo. The paper gives an insight into the overall visual performance of the urban fabric that shapes the microclimate, which is an important ingredient of the overall identity of the place.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-134
Number of pages12
JournalBuilt and Natural Environment Research Papers (BNERP)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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