The house was generally luxurious, every private individual seeking, as far as his resources allowed, to have a dwelling that was as close as possible in its layout and amenities to the palace of the Pharaohs themselves. As most of the cities were built not far from the Nile, it was deemed prudent to raise them artificially above the annual flood level. On the site of the area to be built, thick walls of unbaked brick were first erected, crossing each other in a checkerboard pattern. The gaps were filled with stone, and the foundations of the building were laid on this basis. The houses were generally low-rise (ground floor, first floor and covered terrace) and were built between the courtyard and the garden. The terrace was sometimes protected from the sun by means of a light roof, supported by wooden columns and painted in bright colours. The architects used stones or mud bricks one foot long and half a foot wide as materials. The walls were covered with stucco, painted or decorated with religious and domestic scenes. Interlacing, meandering and ornaments of all kinds adorned the ceilings, while the floor was covered with woven mats of coloured rushes.
The terraces had the advantage of providing the inhabitants with a convenient meeting place, both for resting in the evening and for sleeping in certain seasons. They gave the Egyptian building its characteristic squat and compact appearance. The valley of the Nile is not hilly; it is like a vast plain cut by canals which develops infinitely between the plain and the desert. Now, since nature exerts a necessary influence on art, the Egyptian edifice should, in principle, extend much more in length than in height; it has the shape of a vast trapezium. This observation, which is general for great monuments, is subject to a few exceptions for the private home, where fantasy and domestic needs always speak louder than art.
© L'exposition de Paris - 1889