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Saudi Arabia


The Alula Canyon Residence seeks to offer comfortable and contemporary habitation within both an arid canyon and a rich historic context. The home embeds and immerses itself in the Arabian desert-scape so as to offer refuge from the heat, while framing the surrounding natural beauty.


The residence is a take on a traditional Arabian courtyard house. The monolithic sandstone-like structure is carved through its center in order to produce two offset central gathering spaces. The first acts as an entry court-yard on the lower floor, and the second forms a central exterior gathering space that is sheltered from the harsh summer sun.

Embedded in the stone structure is the steel Viewing Object. This is used as the primary circulation and forms a stairway and bridge that spans the interior mezza-nine space and offers expansive framed views as guests circulate through the home.
Guests enter on a diagonal path that slic-es into the land immediately establishes an intimacy between the guests and the landscape. This path carries visitors un-der the structure to the entry courtyard. Once inside, the Viewing Object is used to bring guests to the second floor, with the choice continuing to the Primary Bedroom through the Study, or following the bridge to the guest rooms and exterior courtyard.

Project Credits:


Principal Architects:

Dwayne Oyler

Jenny Wu


Project Leaders:

Hans Koesters

Design Team:

Owen Duross



The exterior of the home seeks to both shelter its inhabitants from the environment while also harmonizing with it. It takes on the a monolithic form that appears to be cut from a single block of sandstone. Apertures strategically puncture the block and offer frames for which guests can admire the canyon walls. 

The interior of the home offers solace from the harsh sun outside while still capitalizing on strategic implementation
of views and natural lighting. Light from above filters through louvered skylights in the mezzanine and courtyard and into the public spaces. Programs such as the living and dining spaces are cleverly oriented around making the most efficient use of this dramatic lighting. It was imperative to ensure that every space in the home had a relationship to the surrounding landscape of Alula, therefore each room offers a unique portal
that brings the textural red walls of the canyon into the home. This contextual integration is furthered by the use of heavily textured materials on the interior that harmonize with the tones of the Arabian desert-scape.

The primary goal of the home is to form an intimate relationship between the beauty of the encompassing canyon and its in-habitants. Circulation through the site was a key tool in achieving this intimacy - it is used to orient one relative to strategically framed views of the landscape throughout the home. 

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