and returning to the traditional, while the second advocates modernity and liberation from the old.
The present paper discusses how to benefit from the present facilities without losing features of the past when
developing new neighbourhoods. Al-Dira’, a traditional quarter in Al-Jouf, Saudi Arabia, is elected as a case
study within which the housing unit and the urban pattern are analysed. Visual documentation, surveying,
mapping, and interviews constitute essential tools to get an insight on the traditional planning and design
process. On the other side, Al-Rabwa, a typical contemporary officially planned district, is investigated. It is
concluded that the need for modernization should be balanced with originality. Understanding forces that
shaped traditional quarters and are still embedded in the community offers a stream of information that can be
utilized in contemporary development. A responsive development needs to consider local identity while
formulating compact low rise buildings with courtyards and carefully positioned openings, small scale open
space system, straight roads for cars and protected walkways for pedestrians, well distributed parking lots,
and integrated relationship between housing, mosque and market.
Keywords: Traditional districts, Al-Jouf, Al-Dira’ Quarter, Responsive development, Local identity
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