Qurm Villas

The Qurm Villas originate in the clients desire to built four houses for his four grown up kids: In order to avoid a quarrel between the siblings all villas needed to be the same size and layout, but each with a different orientation and expression. The four villas are designed like genetic siblings.

Based on parametric principles to distribute program and negotiate site constraints such as view, sloping terrain and privacy, each villa carries the identity of the inhabitants while being similar to the generic model. The villas feature particular spaces depending on individual preferences setting the hierarchy for the following secondary residential, circulation and service spaces. The resulting villas form a dense group that occupies the site in reminiscence of vernacular Omani tribal settlements. At the same time the houses cast shade onto each other and create a favorable micro-climate. The facade pattern breaks the cubic volumes into even smaller elements according to a mathematical quadtree logic similar to the traditional mashrabiya: an Arabic term given to a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework. 


Authors: Aurel von Richthofen with Michaela Schweizer

Place: Qurm, Oman
Year: 2011
Size: 800 m2
Type: Study commission
Client: Undisclosed 

Site plan in Qurm, Oman - 4 villas on a sloping plot
4 villas for 4 siblings - same surface / different spaces

Parametric Urban Design Model / Qurm

Within the research project, we developed tools and methods to map these environmental, cultural and programmatic parameters into a cohesive urban design mechanism. This mechanism can be adapted and applied to any site in Oman or the Gulf region from the scale of a few houses to larger mixed use developments.

House Like Her

The House Like Her – an artist studio and home – is located by the sea south of Muscat along the magnificent coastline of the Indian Ocean between Quriat and Sur. Linked by the new coastal high-way to the capital the location offers the serenity and unspoilt beauty unique to Oman.

Haus Frehn

Haus Frehn is a countryside home South of Berlin for a couple with separate guest house. The site is located in the scenic Spreewald of Brandenburg in a predominantly rural setting.


The research on Urban Oman and the Arab Gulf examines the consequences of urbanisation triggered by rapid economic and demographic growth in Oman and the Arab Gulf. The research is structured in three parts: ‘Arab Gulf Cities in Transition: Towards New Spatialities’; ‘Urban Oman – Trends and Perspectives of Urbanisation in Muscat Capital Area’; ‘Spatial Diversity and Sustainable Urbanisation in Oman’.

Eco Friendly House Competition

A team of GUtech students lead by professors Nikolaus Knebel, Martin Werminghausen and Aurel von Richthofen win the first prize in the Eco-Friendly House Competition organized by the Research Council Oman. The house will be built on the new Campus premise in Halban, Oman. The house features a radical design to minimize heat gain, includes passive and active energy-efficient technologies, the use of local materials (adobe). The building will serve as guest house for guest faculty coming to Oman.