Tuesday, October 19, 2010

UNESCO scheme to conserve Fathy's village

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Although the heat makes work in Luxor over the summer difficult, a committee of international architects gathered early last week on Luxor's west bank in order to inspect Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy's New Gourna village, launching a comprehensive scheme to help preserve this village consisting of mud-brick domiciles for the poor.

Constructed between 1946 and 1952 by pioneering architect Fathy, New Gourna aimed to provide housing for the population of the village of Old Gourna. Villagers from the latter had lived for generations above ancient Egyptian tombs, and they were moved in order to prevent damage to the tombs and to provide a model for low-cost and sustainable housing.

The main characteristic of New Gourna consists of its reinterpretation of the traditional village setting, using local materials and techniques that are extraordinarily sensitive to the climate. The type of architecture Fathy developed at New Gourna was recognised internationally as an appropriate solution for housing low-income rural communities, and it was presented in a major architectural work published in 1976, Architecture of the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt.

Fathy's ideas inspired a generation of architects and planners worldwide through his integration of vernacular technology with modern architectural principles.

No comments: