Due to the rapid increase in oil production, and the dramatic rise in oil revenues, particularly after 1973, Saudi Arabia experienced great pressure to modernize its society within a short time span. Basic infrastructure and the built environment were the first sectors which benefitted from mammothiy increased investment. The term, 'construction boom' was never more appropriately used than in Saudi Arabia during the '70's and '80's. The boom has now slowed to a manageable level; the entire face of the country has changed, with modern cities--on the western model--covering the site of former traditional Arab towns. But the tremendous impact of such rapid development on the built environment and on local culture, and even the very basic question of how culturally relevant, or appropriate, much of the recently built housing is, is only now being analyzed. Saudi Arabian society is intensely private, and few studies on housing design quality appraisal have been planned or implemented. A pioneering exception was the study tool developed and executed by the Dpartment of Interior Architecture for Women at Icing Faisal University in the summer of 1989. The study was requested by HE. Prince Turk! bin Nasser al Saud, the Commander of King Abdul Aziz Al rbase. The residents of on-base family housing--Saudi military and civilian staff and their families--had complained in general terms about the suitability of their housing, and had requested alterations of various characters and extent. The type of housing included in the study was composed of detached villas and low-rise apartment buildings the design of which was based strictly on Western precepts, in size, layout, and exterior-interior relationship. The study was designed to illicit information on all the above precepts, specifically taking into account the socio-cultural background of the respondents, and precise reasons for satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The objective of the study was to formulate performance criteria that would guide the design of future housing. The study results indicated housing preferences and aspirations which had clearly evolved some way from the traditional Saudi type. They had not, however, followed a path leading to the western model, but had rather evolved, under conflicting influences, to a metamorphosis of both. This paper intends to discuss the metamorphosis of Saudi housing aspirations, including their traditional and contemporary components, and how they translate to design criteria.