Case study: Al Mizhar Villa


Designed by local firm AK Design, Al Mizhar Villa in Dubai is a contemporary play on the traditional courtyard houses of the Gulf region. The constraints of the long, narrow site led to the form of two ‘living tubes’ sliding past each other to create a central landscaped courtyard.

The northern tube contains common, family-oriented functions while the bedrooms are housed in the southern tube and accessed via a fully-glazed gallery. Both tubes are anchored by a central living/family room which has been located to maximise views and cross ventilation.

The site

Surrounded by a 2.4m-high concrete wall, the 26m by 72m site is located in the relatively flat Al Mizhar area of Dubai. It is situated close to Al Mushrif Park, an old Ghaf tree forest.

The building is orientated with the short elevations to the east and west, with recessed glazing to control low sun angles. The long north facade affronting the internal courtyard is fully-glazed yet protected from direct solar heat gain by a Ghaf tree.

The concept The plan revolves around the central landscaped courtyard, which allows natural light to penetrate all key areas of the building. Due to the large perimeter wall, the courtyard always remains a private sanctuary.

Bedrooms contain private terraces and direct landscape access, protecting and concealing the private courtyard while maximising views. Cross ventilation becomes a viable cooling method, as the axis is aligned with prevailing westerly winds.

The details Ghaf trees are referenced in the building design through timber cladding and screening. The ‘tubes’ are finished in a white, jointless render system, which is cut and peeled away at recesses and balconies to reveal softer, warmer timber finishes.

The villa uses various techniques to save water and energy, including internal water-saving fittings, low-water landscaping, insulated walls, ‘Low E’ glazing to both exterior and interior panes, and openable windows for cross ventilation.

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