Vernacular Tower Architecture of Sana'a. Theory and Method for Deriving Sustainable Design Guidelines.

Khaled A. Al-Sallal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter presents a theoretical and operative method that helps to extract abstract sustainable design concepts (e.g., geometrical proportion or functional relations) from traditional architectural environments. The vernacular architecture of Sana'a, Yemen is utilized to demonstrate the method. This amazing architecture follows certain conventions which have been developed throughout the life of the city and well known and practiced by its inhabitants. The followed conventions created a very unique sustainable environment that satisfied the human socio-cultural needs and responded to the climatic and environmental requirements. The chapter starts by introducing the geography and climate of Sana'a city followed by a discussion of the dynamics that formed its distinctive architecture with emphasis on the socio-cultural, environmental, and technological factors. The thermal comfort in the vernacular tower house is discussed through analysis of its thermal performance as a direct-gain passive heating system and how it satisfies the conditions required for comfort control. Afterwards, the chapter introduces a theoretical model that helps to understand the dynamics that typically forms sustainable architecture in vernacular environments. Then it explains an operative model (termed as the form-space relationship model) that helps to analyze architectural configurations (settings) and extract sustainable design concepts. In the Analysis section, several architectural settings were analyzed using this method and the outcomes are presented in a way that can be used as sustainable design guidelines in contemporary architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainability, Energy and Architecture
Subtitle of host publicationCase Studies in Realizing Green Buildings
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9780123972699
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Architecture
  • Sana'a
  • Sustainable design
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Vernacular
  • Yemen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy


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