Situated on a hill with a view of the city of Granada in Spain, the Alhambra is a palace which has been built over centuries to reflect ‘the very beauty of Paradise itself’. Its many construction phases (beginning in the 9th Century as a citadel; developing in the 14th Century to become a Muslim palace and ultimately, in the 16th Century, housing Charles V) have retained the ‘paradise on earth’ theme as each new section has been added. These have included column arcades, fountains with running water and pools designed to reflect the architecture. The gardens are lush with flowers and foliage. It truly is a paradise. I was struck most, however, by the genius of the Arabic architecture, engineering and design which utilised no modern technology. Even though the sun was freely admitted, the air flowed in such a way that even on the hottest days, the rooms remained cool and airy and it was as if nature and architecture were blended as one. The feeling that I had at this place was so enriching that I really didn’t want to leave.
In the hustle and bustle of life in the city, one forgets to appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of nature and the fact that it is entirely possible to incorporate the natural environment into the design of our modern buildings. In this way we can enjoy the convenience of peaceful, airy rooms without the ambient noise of modern technology. The more we integrate our lives with nature, the more enriched we are.