Sahar Rassam is a architect and researcher based in Beirut and Toronto. Throughout her career she has been interested in traditional and vernacular architecture, post-conflict reconstruction and environmentally sustainable and low-energy architecture.
Her professional career has included: Housing Coordinator and Municipal Housing Committee Chair, United Nations Mission In Kosovo (UNMIK), 2000. UN consultant to the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), Amman, 1993. Founder and principal architect, The Architectural Circle, a private practice, Baghdad, 1982-1990.
Selected Publications include: Kulla: A Traditional Albanian House Type in Kosovo. World Millennium Congress, Archi2000, Paris, September 10-12, 2001. The Role of Municipalities in Post-conflict Reconstruction: The Case of Kosovo. BAU 2001 conference on South Lebanon: Urban Challenge In The Era Of Liberation. Beirut, April 3-6, 2001. Passive and Low-Energy Architecture in Southern Arabia. Proceeding for the Symposium on Low-cost Housing in the Arab Region, Sana'a, Yemen, October 24-28, 1992. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), 1994. Manual for Human Settlements Development: Environmentally Sustainable and Energy Efficient Techniques for Shelter in Southern Arabia. Published by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), 1993. The Thermal Concept of the Traditional Arab Market Place: analysis and proposals. Proceedings of Passive and Low Energy Ecotechniques Conference, Pergamon press, 1983.
The kulla, which means tower in Albanian, is mainly seen in the western part of Kosovo. It is a distinctive traditional style of the Dukagjini plain that borders Montenegro, west of Kosovo. Kullas were mostly constructed between the end of the 18th century and the first decades of the 20th century, and inhabited by generations of families.
The kulla has either two or three floors and is mostly square in plan. They were usually utilized by the men of the family, while women and children lived in an attached annex having the same number of floors or less (Fig.1). Animals were kept in the ground floor and the upper floor was used by the men of the house and their guests. There are usually two entrances and staircases. One for the guests, from the main entrance, leading directly to the upper floor and the guest room without passing through the family private quarters. Another for the women, from the side entrance, leading to the middle floor if the kulla has three floors, or to the main floor in case of two floors.
Only the exterior walls remain on this three-storey, stone kulla, which was damaged during the conflict and is now uninhabited.