Omani Traditional Houses
During a field trip, while Petrit and I (Gustavo) were working on a documentation for a restoration project in the
city of Nizwa, we came up with the idea that we should do something with these beautiful mud-brick
houses that we saw abandoned along our way to the project site. We had traveled to many places
in Oman and despite the very different landscapes we met, all these places had something in common:
the presence of so inspiring architecture left abandoned and treated with so little care.
For us, it represented a problem that went far beyond the question of heritage.
After taking part in a workshop organized by the Muscat’s Municipality in 2017 about the identity of
Oman, we realized that the way toward a steady development in the future should be grounded on the
own roots of the past and would therefore necessarily involve this old adobe houses. It was clear that the
widespread idea that these houses are just “old” and “dirty” should be reverted. But how to contribute to
this mind shifting? We envisioned that the restoration of the virtuous monuments like castles and fortresses
which are already to some extent being done, will not be enough since their main purpose is to attract
tourists. The focus for this process should be the smaller “ordinary” houses which could help in
a more direct manner to reconnect people to place and to culture.
We proposed our students during a lecture to visit their hometowns and to document an old house of
their choice in their village or city. We knew that many of their families even owned some of these houses
which were abandoned. We thought, as an analogy, of Brunelleschi going to visit the old ruins of the
Roman Empire and rediscovering the classic architecture in order to invent the Renaissance and the
modern Europe. We knew though that it would be a long-term process based on tiny steps.
Surprisingly we found the majority of the students to be very excited about the task. We were even more
surprised about the reception of the families, which happened to be very skeptic at the beginning.
Some of them asked why we were sending their sons and daughters back home to measure those
old houses. Once they understood the aims of the assignment, we received a lot of very positive feedback
and we are not only thankful for the comprehension but mostly overwhelmed by the support they gave
This book is a collection of the students work during the CAD lecture held by Petrit Pasha in
2017 (spring term). We decided to subdivide the houses by regions following their Geographic
general characteristics like predominant climate, landscape and topography.
Results and Outlook:
This work should be seen as the ! rst step to a more extensive research project.
Climate classification for Oman
Bio-climatic strategies by regions following Mahoney and Givoni’s tools
Modeling thermal performance of the vernacular architecture
Proposing new models based on Vernacular buildings adapted to contemporary needs