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The Heritage of Building: Traditional Techniques in UAE Construction
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The Heritage of Building: Traditional Techniques in UAE Construction

The Heritage of Building: Traditional Techniques in UAE Construction

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasts a modern architectural landscape, with awe-inspiring skyscrapers and futuristic designs. However, beneath the glass and steel facades lies a rich history of traditional construction techniques, passed down through generations and serving as the foundation for the nation’s architectural identity.

Adapting to the Environment: Local Materials and Design

Shaped by the harsh desert environment, traditional UAE construction prioritized sustainability and resourcefulness. Local materials readily available in the region were the cornerstone:

Sun-dried mud bricks: These bricks, known as “leban”, offered natural insulation, keeping homes cool in the scorching summer heat.
Palm fronds: Used for roofs in “areesh” houses, these provided shade and ventilation, further contributing to thermal comfort.
Mangrove poles: These sturdy woods formed the framework of “areesh” houses, offering structural support.

Windcatchers: A Symbol of Innovation

One of the most iconic elements of traditional UAE architecture is the “barjeel“, or wind tower. These tall, square structures utilized natural wind currents to cool homes before the invention of air conditioning. The design featured openings on all sides, allowing cool air to be channeled into the living quarters below, while simultaneously drawing hot air upwards and away from the building.

Community and Craftsmanship: The Legacy of Traditional Building

Traditional construction in the UAE wasn’t just about functionality; it was deeply rooted in community and a sense of shared heritage. Skilled “arasa” (construction workers) used their expertise to build homes and other structures, often working together as families, passing down knowledge and techniques through generations.

Preserving the Past: Embracing the Future

While modern construction methods now dominate the UAE landscape, the legacy of traditional techniques continues to inspire architects and designers. Today, architects incorporate elements of traditional design into modern structures, seeking to maintain a connection to the nation’s heritage while embracing advancements in technology and sustainability.

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  • February 29, 2024

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