Article: Integrating the Natural World into Middle Eastern Architecture

Article: Integrating the Natural World into Middle Eastern Architecture

WSA is constantly thinking about how it can integrate architecture with the natural landscape in the Middle East by partnering with global Landscape Designers, and, in doing so create outdoor spaces that allow people to feel more contented, healthier, and more connected to the environment.

Each region of the Middle East, of course, reacts to its natural landscape in a unique way. Green parks are used to landscape the UAE's up-to-the-minute cities, whereas in Saudi Arabia, for instance, they have created plans based on ancient architecture and desert settings, such as in AlUla, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

At AlUla, experts have looked at how development can be sustainable in terms of protecting and restoring the natural and cultural environment, as well as economically viable and beneficial to current and future residents. It's a strategy that will bring the past into the present and last for a long time.

Blessed with an Outdoor Lifestyle

Whatever the project, the region is blessed with an alfresco way of life; with desert temperatures dictating that buildings have exceptional ventilation and sheltered outdoor spaces. It is therefore natural that WSA, partnering with landscape market leaders and forward-thinking developers are looking at outdoor work and social spaces, where well-ventilated areas for people to collaborate and create can be designed and built in order to promote sustainability and the environment while improving people’s lifestyles. In many ways, this approach is stepping back in time to reflect not only the climate but Arabic sensibilities.

Historically, gardens in the Middle East were designed to provide a place of rest, reflection, and a reminder of paradise. Water, fruit trees, flowers, and shade were fundamental in designing spaces for quiet reflection and sitting. These gardens were also frequently enclosed to keep away the harshness of the environment around them. Shade was provided by man-made canopies and pavilions, and ornate architecture, including fractal geometry and domes, was commonplace.

Preserving the Region’s Culture

Many masterplans are being created under this broad brief that favour the natural landscape over more artificial alternatives. This contributes to the preservation of the region's history and culture. What has become more ‘traditional’ landscape design, particularly in the GCC, frequently lacks a deep understanding of ecological structures and processes in such dry climates.

Natural landscape preservation is also crucial for the area's biodiversity, as well as lowering carbon emissions expenses during construction and operation. It is true that it can be difficult to find information on indigenous native plants. WSA, though, brings together global skill sets with local knowledge. This combination ensures that it produces lush, verdant landscapes while also safeguarding local ecology and wildlife.