Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil graduated from Ain-Shams University in Cairo, where, from 1965 to 1970, he lectured in the Department of Architecture. El-Wakil has acknowledged the importance of Hassan Fathy to his design development. Since 1971 El-Wakil has been in private practice as an architect. (Source: Architecture and Community: Building in the Islamic World Today. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Millerton, NY: Aperture. 1983.)
This palace in the old harbor town of Jeddah, on the Red Sea, was once characterized by the no longer practiced tradition of multi-storyed coral and teak buildings. The typical, louvered wooden windows and balconies of these buildings have long been renowned for their great beauty and craftsmanship. The site is an isolated, slightly sloping plot in a residential area of Jeddah. It is located on a desert highway and boasts a view of the Red Sea from its southern side. Few building materials are available locally other than sand and coral; timber needs to be imported.
The major spaces are aligned on a central axis, and a standard module (180 x 180 cm) has been used to proportion the many and varied spaces required in the program. The architect has made four distinct delineations:
-Private sleeping quarters grouped around an atrium to the west;
-Public areas located in the center of the site to serve as a transition between public and private, from the open courtyard to the closed family room
-A guesthouse to the east, separated from the public spaces by a vaulted driveway; and
-A service wing on the northern, rear edge of the site separating the swimming pool from the parking area.