The courtyard house
The desert shaped the style of the courtyard house.
The heat and glare of the sun, and the threat of sandstorms made it impractical to have a dwelling opening to the surroundings.
The courtyard house evolved over a thousand years ago, and was applied by successive generations in Arab cities.
The living quarters were planned with the courtyard in the middle, often with alcoves—known in Morocco as the 'b'hou'—or a loggia leading off it. These allowed the occupants to sit in shade under the open sky, as their ancestors had sat in the doorway of a tent.
A riad is an enclosed world of its own. The rooms usually form a square around a courtyard, one long chamber on each side, with their windows looking inward.
Open to the sky, and traditionally with a fountain or pool in the centre of the courtyard, the form is symbolic. It represents the four cardinal directions, the four elements, and with the sky as a dome and a spring at its depths it is a representation of the paradise found in the Koran.