A riad (Arabic: رياض) is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”.
The riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. This design principle found support in Islamic notions of privacy for women. Because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space, this layout also supports community within the family. In the central garden of traditional riads there is often a fountain, which naturally circulates and cools off the air, functioning as a natural air-conditioner.
The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this form of house in cities such as Tangier as riads have been restored to their former glory. Many riads are now used as hotels or restaurants.