Our design offers an alternative to the predominant envelope scheme by reinterpreting the traditional courtyard house, blurring the boundaries between the obligatory fence, the house and the landscape.
FENCE house offers an alternative to the predominant sealed envelope scheme by reinterpreting the traditional courtyard house. A sustainable contemporary approach restores an open relationship with the exterior courtyard without compromising cultural standards, all the while maximizing natural light and reducing the water + energy footprint.
Our design begins at the fence, which disintegrates into a terraced topography. Connecting to every level of the house in a closed loop alternating between exterior and interior, the planted terraces gradually step down to reach a sunken courtyard. The result is a procession that redefines the typical Saudi dwellings’ relationship with the exterior. This procession erases the vertical wall that usually stands as a boundary through the simulation of a planted valley open to the sky. Each floor gains a direct view and access to the landscaped sanctuary, ensuring the privacy and spatial segregation of the house.
With minimal openings on three sides bordering the street and neighbors, the fourth façade is fully-glazed, opening up onto the topography and recessed to control low sun angles and direct solar heat gain. The first floor slab-turned-shading-device is an extension of the outdoor landscape, becoming a kind of topography in itself as it swells vertically in areas to seamlessly integrate three large trees.
Fair-faced concrete is used for the fence, landscape elements and the house itself, seeping into the interior spaces in certain areas. Energy consumption is reduced through the use of thermal modeling analysis, high efficiency air conditioning systems, cross ventilation, appropriate materials to minimize heat transfer. Furthermore, the installation of monitoring devices allows the occupants to monitor their energy and water consumption. This enables them to change and adapt their consumption pattern to avoid exceeding targets.
Water consumption is reduced by specifying water-efficient fixtures, and landscaped areas are irrigated solely using grey water, making the amount of grey water available as a determinant in the choice and number of plant species. The grey water produced by the household is treated on-site and released into the ground, diverting wastewater from the municipal sewage system. Native trees are strategically placed to collect dust and cool the air before reaching the house. They are chosen for optimal shading in terms of height, diameter and canopy size, as well as being cross-referenced with endangered species as identified by IUCN.