Armand Point and Islamic Architecture

Climate Control

Algeria lies in central North Africa, between Morocco to the West and Tunisia and Libya to the East with the Mediterranean Sea to the North. The climate in Algeria is hot and dry. The design of traditional courtyard houses modifies the extremes of this inhospitable climate. Exterior walls are usually very thick, constructed from two layers of stone. This offers protection against the heat of the sun by insulating the house. Windows in exterior walls are small to keep heat gain to a minimum, and also to keep out the sand and dust which are carried by strong winds.
 
The inner courtyard allows people to sit in the fresh air, sheltered from the sun and wind. The courtyard also allows light into the centre of the house, compensating for the lack of exterior windows. 'Half rooms' or 'iwans' are roofed areas supported by pillars around the courtyard, making a cool, shady place to sit or work. The courtyard is usually planted with trees for shade and has a water source, such as a small fountain or pool, to provide humidity. At night, cooler air is drawn into the courtyard which brings down the temperature in the surrounding rooms.
 
Over the centuries, courtyard houses have developed 'passive' design features to create a cooler 'microclimate' within the house, without using mechanical cooling devices powered by non-renewable energy.

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