The Effect of Traditional House Patterns on Changing Privacy Treatments: Traditional Houses in the City of Sulaymaniyah, as Case Study


Privacy is one of the most important demands of human daily life, reflected especially, but varyingly, in the architecture of houses, as the main social environment of “private life”. Houses have different functions, however, encompassing activities that may be more, or less, private, and this implies varying architectural responses. This holds true from the earliest identifiable houses in the archaeological record to the houses of our own time. This paper investigates the traditional houses in the city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq, which are known for their distinct architectural form, as a case study for understanding the relationship between privacy and (Muslim) domestic architecture. The specific problems of this research were (1) to understand how the unique character and architectural style of the houses in Sulaymaniyah reflect responses to the problem of privacy, and (2) to determine the extent to which those architectural elements used to provide privacy in the houses of Sulaymaniyah align with previous practice in other Islamic cities. The study found that the patterns of traditional residential houses common in the city of Sulaymaniyah had clear influences on the evolution of mechanisms for providing visual privacy: eliminating or reducing some of them, while enhancing others, leading to the emergence of innovative models that were not found in similar traditional homes in the region and in other Islamic cities.