Khasab contemporary architecture : exploration of heritage and modernity in the Arabian Gulf context

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Emhail, Zahra’a Kadham Radhi
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Turner, David
Pretty, Annabel
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Khasab, Oman
cultural centres
community centres
town centres
architecture and culture
arts facilities
sustainable architecture
vernacular dwellings
traditional architecture
urban regeneration
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Emhail, Z. K. R. (2017). Khasab contemporary architecture: Exploration of heritage and modernity in the Arabian Gulf context (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
AIMS & OBJECTIVES: • Identify the significant elements of heritage, rituals and the growth of villages in the region. (History and heritage study) • Explore use of new (suitable) technology, building methods and social activities that encourage populations to reside in Khasab. (Precedents). • Determine how the above aims can be expressed and integrated with new technology in architectural terms. (Precedents + history + heritage study = design approach). • Plan and design a social/ civic development that will harmonise with the landscape, please the population, and justify how it will redefine the historical relationship between landscape and people. (Developed design + theory). ABSTRACT: When there is an increase in the development of infrastructure and technological advancements, it typically indicates that there is some level of social progression in a society. The changes since the discovery of oil in the Arabian Gulf have caused a huge step forward in economic growth of the region and this revenue is the key for population growth as well as a boost for new opportunities, many of which were not available before. This includes the rapid growth in the tourism sector. While this is extraordinary, the speedy rate of modern development, (generally focused on economic output) causes a disconnection between buildings, the environment and the cultural aspects of life. In a quiet location in the gulf, in the Sultanate of Oman, new building schemes are emerging, gradually following in the footsteps of typical modern development. The focus of the new proposals here is largely in favour of the tourism industry in order to generate income, so that the revenue will continue to add wealth to the population in the future (to replace dependence oil). The awareness of the public on new developments and the skilled work needed to intensify growth moves at a slow pace compared to the amount of new construction. Khasab, a small town in the Sultanate, is one of the locations nominated for the tourism governmental plan. The plan aims to intensify tourism and increase opportunities that would ideally serve the local population. This project proposes an exemplar architectural solution that focuses on providing services to the local population by finding a solution to the lack of a town centre. An investigation will be carried out to understand the relationships between heritage, people and the environment as critical design factors for the planning of developments. The result will attempt to demonstrate an alternative contemporary model without damaging the cultural heritage and to display harmony with the environment. The project anticipates a potential transformation in the notions regarding the built environment in Oman, and possibly in the rest of the Arab Gulf.
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