Yasser Elsheshtawy


Transformations: The Emirati National House

The exhibition explored the transformative aspect of the housing model of Emirati National Houses, known as sha’abi (folk) houses. It’s focus was on how a standard housing model was adapted by residents to individualized homes, thus reflecting their culture and lifestyles.

National houses are found in residential neighborhoods of most cities in the UAE. Initially designed in the 1970s, they were implemented throughout the 1970s and 1980s to offer homes and modern amenities to a transient local population. The standard housing typology is composed of a series of rooms overlooking a central square courtyard; the design is highly adaptable and has transformed as Emirati families’ lifestyles evolved. Many National or sha’abi houses now display a culmination of various architectural elements over the years as residents have transformed the basic model into individualized homes, and they have become an important component of the UAE’s built environment.