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May 11, 2023
Halal Housing Lab: Built Form

How can we create affordable and culturally appropriate housing for multigenerational Muslim families within a housing system that prioritizes small units and maximizing profits?

Throughout the next few months, we’re exploring this type of question as part of the Halal Housing Lab, a Solutions Lab that is funded by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. With our partners at Islamic Family, Another Way, SAS Architecture, Ask for a Better World, and Intelligent Futures, we’re working to find new and innovative housing solutions that not only accommodate the needs of multigenerational Muslim families, but can improve the housing market for everyone in Canada.

This is the second episode of the five part Halal Housing Lab podcast series, exploring the various challenges and opportunities that impact housing affordability within the Islamic community in Edmonton, Alberta. To understand how we might innovate and improve future housing projects, we wanted to start with one of the foundational components of affordable housing: The built form.

Today, I’ll chat with three of our lab partners: servant of servants, Omar Yaqub of Islamic Family, housing architect Sherri Shorten of SAS Architecture, and architect and passionate citizen Shafraaz Kaba of Ask For A Better World to better understand some key challenges and factors of success for housing multigenerational Muslim families. In our explorations of housing options that don’t fit into traditional Canadian models, we’ve begun to understand what housing can look like for diverse cultural needs, and what it takes to make our vision of Halal Housing come to life.

If you know of any non-traditional affordable housing models that you think might be relevant to the exploration of Halal Housing, drop us a note at We would love to hear about them!


Selamlik and Haremlik: Old Turkish houses used to have special rooms that guests could enter during the night that were separate from the rest of the house. Selamlik is a room that is for guests and for those who needs to stay for a couple of days. Haremlik is a room only for women and family members. The idea was that women could maintain their privacy, but the household could still welcome guests. This shows how much the culture values guests. It’s considered a blessing to have people use your selamik. A contemporary manifestation of the selamik is a ‘forbidden’ living room, with couches wrapped in plastic found in many Muslim households, kept ready to be used for guests.

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