My House, My Shield – Considering the Needs of Muslim Immigrants in Home Design

by Cory Chandler, Fall 2005, Vistas, Texas Tech University

“My house is the shield of my disgrace,” says a phrase used by Arab Muslims. Cherif Amor points to this as an illustration of the importance Muslims place on the concept of privacy in their homes.
“Visual privacy has played an instrumental role in shaping Muslim home interiors and is still influencing the home interior space organization,” says Amor, an assistant professor in Texas Tech’s Department of Design.

In many predominantly Muslim countries, privacy issues rule home design. Houses are built with screens over the windows. Sitting rooms provide a barrier between the entrance of the house and living spaces.  This is not the case in the utilitarian designs of American homes. In fact, many Muslim
immigrants collide with a cultural schism when they arrive in the United States seeking a home to suit their needs. This was especially true of early immigrants, who considered themselves sojourners in their new country, says Amor. He spent three years delving into the homes of Muslim immigrants.