early islamic style // DESIGN HISTORY

Early Islamic architecture dates from around 650 CE.  Though heavily influenced by Byzantine and early Christian design, early Islamic design wished to distinguish itself from the Romans and Greeks so common design elements, such as the semi-circular arch were replaced by new elements, like the horseshoe arch.


Vintage Marrakech Riad + Private Residence in Texas 

The Riad, or open central courtyard, was originally designed to protect its inhabitants from the harsh Moroccan heat.  It was surrounded by high walls to provide shade, with an open ceiling to allow for air flow.  The center of the space included a fountain or pool which would help to cool the air even further.  This contemporary home in Austin features tall walls made of light stone topped with clerestory windows below a flat wooden roof.  Given that Austin has a very warm climate, this would prevent most direct sunlight during the day while still providing ample daylight.  The large windows at the end of the room provide a view outside to trees and a pool, providing the occupants with a feeling of being cool.


Interior of Moorish building + Private Home in San Francisco

Islamic architecture featured similar screens which provided protection from the sun, air circulation and injected designs onto the floor of the otherwise dark interiors.  This San Francisco home features a reverse floor plan so that the kitchen, living and dining area are on the top floor.  When closed, the perforated fold-up metal screen protects the southern-facing home from the sun while allowing for air circulation.  It also projects interesting patterns into the minimal interior.


(A gorgeous!) Mihrab + Graffiti Hive Home in Australia

A band of Arabic writing surrounds the Islamic mihrab.  Arabic was also used as a decorative element in pottery and other decorative objects.  The graffiti on this home acts as both decoration and important architectural element.  The concrete piece spelling out “HIVE” comes up at the end to form the balcony wall off the second floor.  It also adds interest to this very modern building.



Great Mosque in Yemen + Zaha Hadid design

The minaret rises above the mosque to the highest point in order to ensure the call to prayer is heard.   This modern minaret conceptualized by Zaha Hadid rises above the pavilions that surround it to attract guests to the Future Energy Expo in Kazakstan.  As you may know, Zaha passed away suddenly earlier this year.  



Moorish Bath + Modern Light Fixture

Moorish baths feature cut-outs in the ceiling so the person in the bath will feel as though they are sitting under the stars.  This lighting fixture is made up of a large perforated metal structure that houses a bright light source.  While the light can be seen at any angle, as the the viewer moves past the fixture the angle of the light changes and will appear to sparkle like a star.  

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