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Type: Thesis
Title: Industrialised Mass Housing in Saudi Arabia: A Qualitative and Technological Study
Author: Alshabib, Abdulaziz Dakhel M.
Issue Date: 2021
School/Discipline: School of Architecture and Built Environment
Abstract: In 2017, the Saudi Arabian Government through its Ministry of Housing, announced that it planned to build 1.45 million affordable houses by 2030. The government will contribute to the cost of the houses to put them within the price range of people with modest incomes. Central to achieving this goal is the use of innovative, high-tech construction methods, mainly 3D printing. Several prototype houses have been constructed and more are planned to give Saudis an opportunity to experience them first-hand before a decision is made to go ahead with the planned rollout. The motivation for this thesis was to better understand the likely success or failure of this ambitious scheme. Early research soon revealed that since the discovery of oil in the kingdom in 1938, there have been many thousands of houses and apartments built through government-sponsored affordable housing projects. All have embodied a mixture of imported western notions of domestic living combined with traditional Saudi cultural, social and religious values and practices. The construction of these large-scale projects has relied on, and to a large extent been driven by, the use of imported construction materials, techniques and expertise. To better understand the current masshousing plan this thesis, through the study of examples and case studies, explores these projects from both a technological and a qualitative perspective. The aim is to provide insights into their successes and failures in the hope that lessons can be learned that will help guide the current proposal towards a fruitful outcome for the Saudi people for whom the houses are intended. Prior to 1938, domestic buildings in Saudi Arabia were constructed by local craftsmen using traditional materials and techniques. The first modern buildings were, flat-packed, timber houses manufactured in California and imported by the Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL) to accommodate their expat oil workers in the rapidly expanding camp at Dammam on the Arabian Gulf. A trickle soon turned into a flood with many thousands of prefabricated timber houses from America and Europe imported into oil compounds all around the country. While these houses were never accepted more widely by Saudis as suitable domestic dwellings the modernist, technological thinking they embodied undoubtedly translated into the first contemporary, non-traditional houses built outside the camps during the 1950s designed by architects and engineers employed by SOCAL’s successor company Aramco. Mass-housing projects for the wider Saudi community soon followed all of which were constructed with heavy concrete construction. The first examples were built in situ however by the 1970s industrialised prefabrication had become established as the dominant method of delivering thousands of identical, affordable houses and apartments. Many were initially unappealing to Saudi house and apartment buyers and stood empty for a number of years. When the houses were finally occupied their new owners expressed their dissatisfaction with the manifestation of imported ideas about how they should live by almost universally carrying out modifications. These range from the relatively minor, raising the height of boundary walls, to major changes including adding a second storey. It is extremely difficult for the untrained householder or the local builder to alter and modify a house constructed of factory-made, loadbearing precast concrete panels and the same will be true for 3D printed houses. For the 1970s precast houses, modifications resulted in a significant number of structural failures leading to abandonment of the house. In addition, eclectic streetscapes emerged consisting of an assortment of styles and building materials some of which attempt to recreate a resonance with vernacular modes of living. Some houses are modelled on the latest trends found in architectural and lifestyle magazines. If minimising this level of modification is accepted as a goal for the proposed 3D printed houses, then a detailed understanding of previous industrialised mass housing schemes is important.
Advisor: Ridgway, Sam
Curry, James
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Architecture & Built Environment, 2021
Keywords: Saudi Arabia
Industrialised Housing
System built housing
imported housing
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