The character of a location is often formed by its architecture. In Jeddah, the Angawi house is a truly amazingly well-executed example of the features that can be found throughout the area. It’s probably the top tour I’d recommend to anyone visiting Jeddah.
On the northern edge of Jeddah, on a relatively generic street of all-too-common white, high-walled villas, you can find the Angawi house. It is built and designed in the traditional Hejaz style. Angawi’s family home was designed and built around his “al mizan” philosophy, and uses a mixture of modern and traditional materials and techniques.
Its unusual form is immediately notable. The house is wider in the north than the south to catch the northerly wind in every room. The wind is drawn in through the roshan (wooden window boxes) which also act as screens to provide privacy. The house has air-conditioning throughout, but it is only used when it is really needed. Remember, A/C didn’t exist back in the day but wealthy people have always preferred to be comfortable. This is how that’s done in Jeddah.
The exterior is made of stone and wood, utilizing traditional woodwork and local builders, but at the same time the structure is reinforced by concrete beams and columns.Access to natural light is another important factor in the house, and Angawi designed the structure so that every room receives sunlight. But it is not just a mix of old and new that is epitomized by Angawi’s home, it is a mixture of architectural styles and techniques which, like Hejazi culture, has been formed over generations of travelers to the region during Hajj.
On the floor of the pool is a Persian carpet design, made with Turkish ceramics. There is also a smaller water feature that connects to the pool through a tiny channel (you can just barely see it under the woman in the photo below). The level of detail in this place is extremely well-done…everything just seems to flow together.
The last factor to consider at Al Makkiyah is the social function of the house, something that is as important in Saudi Arabia as it is anywhere in the world. Firstly, the house achieves a separation between the public and private areas. Angawi receives hundreds of visitors a month, but his family is still able to live in the house in relative peace.
Above all, Angawi is keen to stress that his house is not an example of Saudi Arabian architecture, but of Hejaz. His house would not work in Riyadh or Al Khobar, it is suited to Jeddah’s coastal climate, where architects have been using similar techniques for generations.