The search for solutions to the housing of a large number of people has beengoing on in earnest over the last 150 years. From the mid-nineteenth cen-tury various proposals have developed in Europe to provide the workingclass with a clean and healthy environment. The Garden City movement byEbenezer Howard to Le Corbusier's Radiant City, have all strived to developsolutions to meet the pressing needs of housing the middle and lower incomepopulation The Modern Movement woth its concern for a new standard ofliving and its development of an architectural language to represent a newutopia has come to form the backbone of the basic architectural vocabularyused in the developing world to solve its housing problems.The belief of the 1950's and '60s that housing (povided by national govern-ment) has proved to be an impossible dream. Yet housing (heavily subsi-dized by both governments and other development agencies) is being provid-ed even today. Even though land development policies locate areas anddirections for the future growth, the design of the physical environmentplays an equally important role. A sense of place also gives rise to commu-nity spirit, security, and a point of identification-perhaps even of identity.Desigh of neihborhoods and units themselves, of how people use space andhow it fits psychologically into their lifestyles, is the key to successfulhousing, as seen from the people's point of view. The question then is how does one evaluate design in housing? What criteriais to be used? How does one define quality, or even a sense of place?This paper takes a critical look at five housing projects in the Islamicworld, the two Habous projects in Casablanca and Rabat both developed underthe French, New Shustrar in Iran, The Asian Games Village in New Delhi adnSetapak Jaya in Kuala Lumpur to develop new concepts that allows us a bet-ter understanding of existing developments and how new settlements could be developed. The projects have been analyzed using five elements that havebeen selected because they allow analysis to both the traditional and the con-temporary fabric in terms of its principles:1. Urban Layout-the systems used and their overlays.2. Breathing Spaces-adaptability of uruban space without major modifica-tions.3. Facade Design-the character of the facades.4. Horizontal Rhythms-urbanity at the ground level.5. Resilience within buildings-ability of space to assume a variety of func-tions as well as meanings, without major disruption to the principles of thestructure of that space.The paper concludes that attempts are being made to rethink the way we de-sign our environments and our urbanscape, albeit guided by modern*zoning laws of segregating land uses. Yet a move from pure functionalisttrends, coupled with technological capability, to that of an architecture builtfor change Is urgently needed if we are to design houses that respond to bothfunctional and cultural needs of a society.