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The State of Becoming of the Roshan: Villa Aladdin and the Magic Courtyard

Wadia Albarqawi
American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture. 2022, 10(2), 101-105. DOI: 10.12691/ajcea-10-2-5
Received May 08, 2022; Revised June 11, 2022; Accepted June 23, 2022

Abstract

This paper examines the mechanism of building architectural identity in the holy city of Makkah. For centuries, migration was the key to promoting cultural transfer, the primary mechanism for constructing local architecture. However, limiting pilgrims' housing to the central area and separating them from the rest of the urban fabric undermined any cultural transfer. Throughout the historic interpretive, this paper investigates the mechanism of constructing architecture in this holy city. Then, it examines this mechanism's future potential in Villa Aladdin as a case study. The aim is to highlight the multiple functions of architecture through creating new jobs, adopting new technologies, and opening creative fields to support the continuity of cultural transfer. The significance of this paper stems from the role played by local architecture in enhancing the mental image associated with the history of these two holy cities.

1. Introduction

Sacred cities have solid religious centers. The Kaaba is the center of Makkah, and the Prophet Muhammad (Pease be upon Him) mosque is the center of Madina. Both centers are destinations for pilgrims from all over the Muslim world. People constructed their houses around these centers over centuries and became residents. The residents of Makkah and Madinah used to rent parts of their houses to pilgrims. This practice has established a cultural transfer process, reflected in the Roushan and other architectural features. However, by the beginning of the 20th century, the increased number of pilgrims and their demands to reside near the centers forced investors to construct tall buildings. At the same time, the residents of Makkah and Madina moved to distant areas in new neighborhoods outside of the centers, restricting the cultural transfer process. The street programs in the new neighborhoods differed from those in the traditional environment; the streets had become vehicle routes. People associated the Roshan with their homes out of nostalgia, regardless of social or environmental function. The Roshan's purpose was restricted to a symbolic depiction of the past with no development (Figure 4). The challenge is how to develop an architecture based on tradition while bearing in mind today's modern technology.

In this paper, the case study of Villa Aladdin offers a new approach when dealing with tradition and modernity. I used the metaphor since the villa's owner shares the name of the story character (Aladdin) and the similarity between the function of the courtyard in the villa and the function of the magic lamp. In the legendary story “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp,” Aladdin rubs the lamp, and a genie appears and grants him three wishes. After the story unfolds, Aladdin achieves happiness by using the final wish to release the genie. He realized that happiness could not be achieved by having castles or being a prince; instead, it could be achieved by sending the genie free. The lamp here is a third space that allows materializing possibilities. The courtyard in Villa Aladdin is the third space; it stimulates interaction and cultural transfer, where traditions have no effect of imposing authority or modernity to enforce their hegemony. The past imposes its authority through traditions, and the result is the repetition of traditional architectural forms. In contrast, modernity declares a rupture with the past and applies its theories of modern forms. In either case, the result departs from the local culture and heritage.

This paper investigates the mechanism of cultural transfer informing the architecture of these two holy cities throughout historical interpretation. Then it examines the Villa of Aladdin to evaluate this process in a contemporary context. The aim is to provide a new approach to dealing with tradition by linking the past with the present, using new technologies, and opening creative disciplines to support continued cultural transfer.

2. Research Methods

This paper traces the formation of the Roushan via cultural transfer through the interpretation of historical literature. The analysis includes examining archival photographs. The focus is on the cultural, the environmental, and the social functions to extract the principles and embedded meanings in the Roushan. Then, it examines villa Aladdin to evaluate the implementation of these principles in a contemporary context regarding today's social, environmental, and cultural aspects. The analysis of the Villa Aladdin includes the floor plan, the second plan, and the sections.

3. The Third Space in Sacred Places

Pilgrims have an anti-structural mentality toward the physical surroundings of sacred places. Their influence on the local culture and urban fabric of sacred places are minor. Victor Turner stated that pilgrims to sacred locations do not engage with the physical setting. Pilgrims create a mental image of sacred locales via ritual practice 1. However, pilgrims become active participants in shaping those sacred places when they migrate. Although pilgrims have an anti-structural attitude toward physicality, when they migrate, they integrate their traditions with the traditions of the host group, resulting in new traditions. As pilgrims who visit holy sites choose to remain as migrants, they carry on some of their traditions and culture 2. “Cultures blend via migration,” writes anthropologist Jonathan Friedman 3. Migrants, according to anthropologist Linda Basch, reconstruct space through their daily lives 4. Migration encourages social practice in both “sending” and “receiving” communities 5.

Traditions have the most profound impact on community and city development. According to architecture expert Saleh Al-Hathloul, traditions are the foundation for social activities in society 6. According to architectural historian Nizar al-Sayyad, traditions are the cornerstone of modernity if fostered but not replicated 7. Traditions arose through social actions based on comprehension and perception. However, when individuals mimic the past without understanding or conviction, traditions become merely social practices. Under these conditions, tradition stifles any advancement.

Traditions should address localities while keeping up with modern improvements. In the Arab-Muslim world, no formal framework exists to deal with traditions and modernity 8. Traditions impose power by repeating past architectural forms. Modernity asserts its predominance, announces a break with the past, and employs modern-form ideas. In any scenario, the outcome is at odds with the region's culture and tradition. Homi Bhabha proposed a third space for generating ideas steeped in tradition while becoming contemporary 9. This third space is not the space of tradition or modernity; it is a space of hybridity.

4. The Mechanism of Constructing Local Architecture in Hejaz (Makkah and Madina)

4.1. Culturally

Many centuries ago, a unique system for developing traditions had arisen in the Hijaz, western Saudi Arabia, and its most important towns, Makkah and Madina. The mechanism arose as a result of migration activity. The Hejaz is noted for its social and cultural variety, resulting from the yearly influx of pilgrims from many Islamic origins, particularly those who stay as migrants. “People in Makkah are from many racial backgrounds... here you may witness Turks, Javanese, Indians, Egyptians, Africans, and Yemenis, alongside local Bedouins,” wrote Dutch explorer C. Snouck Hurgronje in the eighteenth century 10. “The population of Makkah came from Morocco, India, Algeria, Tunisia, Tripoli, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Sind, and Persia,” Moroccan pilgrims recounted their Hajj voyage 11. Because of this diversity, many traditions might coexist to create a culture that is a mix.

Migration to Saudi Arabia's Hejaz area, particularly Makkah and Medina, significantly influenced their architecture 2. Roshan emerged due to cultural diffusion through migration (Figure 1). At the end of the eighteenth century, the Muslim traveler Muqaddasi wrote, “The homes of Makkah are made of polished black and white stones, while the top sections are brick; many of them have enormous projecting windows of wood” 12. The Roshan is a large window with wooden screens; the Persian word for “light source” is Roshan 2. The timber was sourced in Java, Indonesia 13. The artists went from India to show off their Indian ornamental skills at Roushan 8. Furthermore, Hijazi Roshans differ from those found in Iraq (Shanashel) or Egypt (Mashrabiya). The Roshan, as opposed to the Shanashel or Mashrabiya, covers most of the front with a specific size and proportion (Figure 2). The Roshan developed in Makkah and Madinah due to the cultural transfer.

4.2. Environmentally

Many Islamic cities use courtyards for environmental and climate control. In Makkah, they used Roshan instead due to the vertical arrangement of buildings (Figure 1). The Roshan connects spaces vertically and responds to external environmental factors 2. Roshan has Qalalib to protect indoor spaces from direct sunlight. Qalalib, miniature wooden sun breakers, control the degree of light. It allows light and air to enter the house. Qalalib can be opened partially or entirely, and the same applies to the air 14. A wetted cloth is placed in front of the Roshan openings, moistening the space when the air enters the house 14. However, the Roshan is directly attached to the building, and the thermal transfer is very high, especially during summer. In addition, due to the lack of modern technology, the openings in Roshan allow dust, dirt, and insects to enter (Figure 3).

4.3. Socially

Roshan provides a direct connection between the indoors and outdoors while maintaining privacy. The small openings in Roshan allow those inside to see through. People from the outside can not see the inside. Residences and pilgrimages can observe the streets' buying and selling activities that flourish during the pilgrimage seasons in total privacy. IbnBatuta, the renowned Muslim traveler who made the pilgrimage to Makkah in the fourteenth century, recorded that:

“The footpath between Al-Safa and Al-Marwa is an excellent market in Makkah, where grain, meat, dates, ghee, and fruits are sold.” He added, “It is Makkah's only stock exchange; it is usually crowded; people shop and others walk around between Al-Safa and Al-Marwa” 12.

It is worth noting that many housemakers used to provide for their needs by sending someone on the street while maintaining their privacy 15.

5. Aladdin Villa and the Magic Courtyard

The villa must meet Aladdin's needs for privacy, communication with family members, and enjoyment of the garden and outdoor settings. Aladdin was born and raised in Makkah, and he worked in Medina. He chose to settle in Madina, known for its palm trees and distinctive architectural vocabulary (The Roshan). The villa is separated into two sections: the public section comprises a guest room, a dining hall, and a toilet; the private section contains a guest room, a dining hall, and a toilet. The private section comprises a living area, a kitchen, a reception hall for female guests, and a private bedroom for parents. The courtyard is located roughly in the center of the building, between the public (guest) and semi-private (semi-private) sections (the living and kitchen section). The courtyard is called Aladdin's courtyard, the third space in the story, and the meaning here is metaphorical and practical (Figure 5).

5.1. Socially

Roshan's usage in the suburbs proved impractical. The installation area was limited due to the two-meter setback from the sidewalls. Despite attempts to recreate them using other materials such as aluminum, fiberglass, and steel, their beauty was compromised. People changed the exterior of their villas by adding metal sheets to elevate the height of the fences, which provided additional seclusion. In Villa Aladdin, modern construction techniques have been used for social responses. The heights of the two walls that define the Aladdin courtyard to the north and south increased to two levels in height. Then a canopy is extended horizontally to provide the most outstanding amount of privacy. A neighbor borders the northern side, and the southern side is a street 15 meters wide, followed by another neighbor. It is worth noting that the two walls represent an essential element for directing the view inward to the living room and office spaces. With its two raised walls, the Aladdin courtyard represents a functional development of Roshan. Whereas the Roshan represents the opening of the house in traditional Makkah buildings and the point of contact between the spaces of the building vertically, the Aladdin courtyard represents the connection points between internal spaces horizontally (Figure 5). The villa's division into two parts allows renting the whole public part to pilgrims without negotiating privacy. The Aladdin's courtyard represents a transitional area to invite pilgrims to spend time with the villa residents, enhancing social communication and direct cultural exchange. Instead of installing metal sheets on local villas, the two curtain walls function as a Roushan to maintain privacy.

5.2. Environmentally

Aladdin's courtyard, with its high walls, suggests an ecologically environmental treatment. The walls create shade and keep direct sunlight out of the residence. Despite the advancement of heat insulation materials in general, the high temperature in the region converts the walls into a thermal storehouse, slowly discharging that heat into the villa. The heat conduction ratio is nearly nil because of the separation of the walls and the courtyard (Figure 6).

5.3. Culturally

By using current building techniques, the villa represents technological and cultural interaction. Solar panels have been erected on the building's roof, and a solar-powered water pump has been built on the roof of a water surface linked to it. Water rises to the surface and passes through a water turbine. The water turbine functions as a dynamo, charging and storing energy for later use as clean energy. Pumping water humidifies the air in the Aladdin courtyard, acts as a clean energy producer, and helps reduce electricity use (Figure 7).

Villa Aladdin is located in Medina, famous for its palm trees, so the two curtain walls are opposite each other. They form a canopy similar to the palm tree, a symbolic representation of the palm. The result is reinterpreting traditional architecture environmentally, socially, and culturally in a contemporary format. Aladdin’s Villa is a model of a building that is practically and symbolically linked to the identity of the place. The process was in a third space that promoted innovation and development, called Aladdin Courtyard (Figure 7).

6. Conclusion and Recommendations

In Makkah and Madina, a unique mechanism has developed from the concept of migration, which supports the cultural transfer. The Roshan is an architectural icon of the Hejaz and one of the essential vocabularies that distinguish buildings in Makkah and Madina. It was an architectural product of hybridization that developed based on cultural transfer. The recommendation is to experience other elements in traditional houses in Makkah in a third space to archive hybrid architecture.

Today, considering the technical development and the spread of the information revolution and the global network, the tools of intellectual exchange have multiplied and evolved to include most aspects of life without the need for direct communication. Aladdin's Villa is a building model related to the local identity. It was a third-space production of historic architecture in a modern framework.

The method for constructing residential structures to accommodate locals and pilgrims while reflecting environmental, social, and cultural elements appears promising. The values, practices, and traditions portrayed in architecture serve many tasks rather than just grafting symbolic implications and traditional terminology onto façades. The architect should consider technical factors while designing flexible accommodation that may be rented out during the Hajj, Umrah, and visit seasons. Architecture may play an essential part in the entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing cultural and economic support to the property owner. Further research can be directed at the urban fabric to develop a complete method for establishing urban identity. Today's architecture in the local arena needs Aladdin's courtyard to be the lamp that illuminates it for the future and promotes it towards new frontiers.

References

[1]  Turner, V, “The center out there: Pilgrim's goal.” History of religions. 12.3 (1973): 191-230.‏
In article      View Article
 
[2]  Angawi, S. M, Makkan architecture. Diss. School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), 1988.‏ p.367.
In article      
 
[3]  Featherstone, Mike, and Scott Lash, eds. Spaces of culture: City, nation, world. Sage, 1999.‏
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Basch, Linda. “with Nina Glick-Schiller and Cristina Szanton Blanc 1994 Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States.” Postfach: Gordon and Breach Publishers. (1994).‏
In article      
 
[5]  Smith, Michael Peter. Transnational urbanism: Locating globalization. Vol. 221. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001.‏
In article      
 
[6]  Al-Hathloul, S, “Continuity in a changing tradition.” Legacies for the Future: Contemporary Architecture in Islamic Societies (1998): 18-31.‏
In article      
 
[7]  AlSayyad, N, ed. The end of tradition?. Psychology Press, 2004.‏
In article      View Article
 
[8]  Albarqawi, W. A. H, Urban Transformation and Architectural Identity in Makkah, 1932-2010. Diss. University of Sydney, 2012.‏
In article      
 
[9]  Bhabha, Homi K. The location of culture. routledge, 2012.‏
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[10]  Hurgronje, C. Snouck. Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century: Daily Life, Customs and Learning. The Moslims of the East-Indian Archipelago. Brill, 2006.‏
In article      
 
[11]  Nawab, Kutub Al-Rihlat Fi Al‐Maghrib Al‐Aqsa Masdar Mi Masader Tarikh Al-Hejaz Fi Alqarnain 11 Wa 12 AH, (2008).
In article      
 
[12]  Ibn-Batuta, Rihlat Ibn Batūtah: Al‐Musamāh Tuhfat Al-Nuthār Fī Gharāyib Al-Amsār, 26.
In article      
 
[13]  Tharwat Hijazi, “Handicrafts in Makkah: Part I,” (1993). Hijazi is a researcher from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj Research; Hariri, “Housing in Central Makkah: the influence of Hajj”.
In article      
 
[14]  Al-Shareef, Faisal Mohammad. Natural light control in Hadjazi architecture: an investigation of the Rowshan performance by computer simulation. Diss. University of Liverpool, 1996.‏
In article      
 
[15]  Hariri, Majdi Mohammed. Housing in central Makkah: influence of Hajj. Diss. Newcastle University, 1986.‏
In article      
 

Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2022 Wadia Albarqawi

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Normal Style
Wadia Albarqawi. The State of Becoming of the Roshan: Villa Aladdin and the Magic Courtyard. American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture. Vol. 10, No. 2, 2022, pp 101-105. https://pubs.sciepub.com/ajcea/10/2/5
MLA Style
Albarqawi, Wadia. "The State of Becoming of the Roshan: Villa Aladdin and the Magic Courtyard." American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture 10.2 (2022): 101-105.
APA Style
Albarqawi, W. (2022). The State of Becoming of the Roshan: Villa Aladdin and the Magic Courtyard. American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture, 10(2), 101-105.
Chicago Style
Albarqawi, Wadia. "The State of Becoming of the Roshan: Villa Aladdin and the Magic Courtyard." American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture 10, no. 2 (2022): 101-105.
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  • Figure 2. Hijazi Roshan and its extension to several floors (at the top)، while the Mashrabiyas and the openings for limited floors (at the bottom)
  • Figure 4. Tall buildings and the use of Roshan away from social activities on the street (right) Using Roshan in modern buildings as a kind of nostalgia for the past (left)
[1]  Turner, V, “The center out there: Pilgrim's goal.” History of religions. 12.3 (1973): 191-230.‏
In article      View Article
 
[2]  Angawi, S. M, Makkan architecture. Diss. School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), 1988.‏ p.367.
In article      
 
[3]  Featherstone, Mike, and Scott Lash, eds. Spaces of culture: City, nation, world. Sage, 1999.‏
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Basch, Linda. “with Nina Glick-Schiller and Cristina Szanton Blanc 1994 Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States.” Postfach: Gordon and Breach Publishers. (1994).‏
In article      
 
[5]  Smith, Michael Peter. Transnational urbanism: Locating globalization. Vol. 221. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001.‏
In article      
 
[6]  Al-Hathloul, S, “Continuity in a changing tradition.” Legacies for the Future: Contemporary Architecture in Islamic Societies (1998): 18-31.‏
In article      
 
[7]  AlSayyad, N, ed. The end of tradition?. Psychology Press, 2004.‏
In article      View Article
 
[8]  Albarqawi, W. A. H, Urban Transformation and Architectural Identity in Makkah, 1932-2010. Diss. University of Sydney, 2012.‏
In article      
 
[9]  Bhabha, Homi K. The location of culture. routledge, 2012.‏
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[10]  Hurgronje, C. Snouck. Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century: Daily Life, Customs and Learning. The Moslims of the East-Indian Archipelago. Brill, 2006.‏
In article      
 
[11]  Nawab, Kutub Al-Rihlat Fi Al‐Maghrib Al‐Aqsa Masdar Mi Masader Tarikh Al-Hejaz Fi Alqarnain 11 Wa 12 AH, (2008).
In article      
 
[12]  Ibn-Batuta, Rihlat Ibn Batūtah: Al‐Musamāh Tuhfat Al-Nuthār Fī Gharāyib Al-Amsār, 26.
In article      
 
[13]  Tharwat Hijazi, “Handicrafts in Makkah: Part I,” (1993). Hijazi is a researcher from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj Research; Hariri, “Housing in Central Makkah: the influence of Hajj”.
In article      
 
[14]  Al-Shareef, Faisal Mohammad. Natural light control in Hadjazi architecture: an investigation of the Rowshan performance by computer simulation. Diss. University of Liverpool, 1996.‏
In article      
 
[15]  Hariri, Majdi Mohammed. Housing in central Makkah: influence of Hajj. Diss. Newcastle University, 1986.‏
In article