The Qasba (Qasba or Kasbah, 'fortress') is the triangle-shaped old city of Algiers. Located roughly 400 feet (122 m) above sea level, the Qasba today crowns the steep hill behind the modern town (which was built at sea level).
The Qasba's borders are fixed by fortifications whose parameters forced the architecture to develop vertically as a high-density settlement. The area's housing typology is defined by interlocking masses of white, geometric houses with roof terraces oriented towards the bay; there are approximately 1200 houses sited on 36 hectares of land within the Qasba.
As the urban structure of Ottoman Algiers was typical of an Islamic city, a distinction was made between the city's public spaces and streets as the male domain and the private spaces of the house as a female territory. The housing typology of the Qasba remained relatively interiorized throughout its development over time, and the design of the house was primarily organized around a courtyard space surrounded by arcades. This spatial organization around a central courtyard allowed outdoor activities to occur within the privacy of the home. Entrance into this space was an indirect procession through a series of lobbies leading from the streets into the domestic interior. Another salient architectural feature influencing the nature of public and private interactions was the residential terrace: the dense configuration of the Qasba made it entirely possible to move from house to house via adjacent terraces without having to navigate the streets below.