Concurso: IV Concurso Cátedra Hispalyt: Proyecto de un hamman en New Gourna Luxor, Egipto.
Competition: IV Concurso Cátedra Hispalyt: Proyecto de un hamman en New Gourna Luxor, Egipto.
NATURAL ENERGY AND VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE
In his book of the same title (above) Fathy wrote, “Modern science can develop human capabilities to use natural sources of energy far beyond what has been achieved in vernacular architecture. If science and technology are to revitalize architecture through a systematic and comprehensive comparison of new and traditional structures, the principles that produced the solutions must be respected. This is the only way we can surpass in human and ecological quality the achievements of traditional architecture in the hot arid regions of the world. Such an effort can only enrich human thought and culture. “
The inner courtyard of a house is the most efficient air conditioner for it traps the cold of desert night air, releasing it gradually during the day to adjoining rooms through in-built claustra. And if the walls are thick and of adobe, they too store the night’s coolness, and gain heat slowly during the day, yielding the higher temperature many hours later, when it is needed. Plantings purify the air further, protecting dwellers behind courtyard walls from the foul-smelling fumes of carinfested streets.
To solve the economic question of the rural village programme, Hassan Fathy uses raw brick. This choice is determined by his knowledge of the architecture and monuments of upper-Egypt. Indeed, in regions which are poor in wood, one has to imagine other roofing systems. The vaults and cupolas in raw brick like the Ramasseum, Bagawat and the Fatimid mausoleums, will serve him as models to roof his first experimental farms and the houses in New Gourna. In every epoch, the elementary technology of mud brick has been a traditional material in Egypt, particularly in rural areas. The material itself, immediately at hand, and the fabrication of the raw bricks, dried in the sun, is simple and low-cost. By applying the system of catenary vaults which he improves, Hassan Fathy can build a house entirely in earth. The building of such a house requires only two persons.
The thermal inertia of raw brick walls has been studied and we know that it is superior to a wall in baked brick, in stone or in concrete. In consequence, the choice of this material for New Gourna, located in an extreme desert climate region, is totally appropriate. The connotation of raw earth as being an archaic and poor material was one of the causes of the bad reception of New Gourna by the population for whom it was meant. The paradox of poor populations in emerging countries is that they aspire to industrialized technologies as a sign of wealth even if a material like concrete is totally inappropriate to the climatic and economic situation
The idea of a self-help system among the peasants intended towards the building of their own houses adapted to the climate with a simple and lowcost technology is an exception. Hassan Fathy was sensitive to the question of social housing as an architect and as a man and sincerely wished to enhance the living conditions of the easants.
He invented a model-housing based upon constructive and typological models from the historical range of Egyptian constructions. This concern for re-linking with the lost traditional know-how anticipates the theories underlying the question of sustainable development New Gourna, Hassan Fathy’s pilot-project which has been partially constructed is at present abandoned and in peril. Even though the theatre and the mosque have been restored and are in a good state of conservation, some of the buildings suffer from lack of maintenance and savage transformations. Other buildings, like the boys’ school and the native crafts’ hall of the village have been purely and simply destroyed.
The water is an essential element without which cannot be understood the Islamic culture; the Moslem cities are designed on the basis of it. In the Islamic world, the public baths, or Hammams, were and are one of the main parts of social life. Bathing is a ritualistic activity and the cleansing of the body is generally considered an act of religious purification.The wudu or smaller ablution is carried out in any point of running water, generally in the house or in the patio of the mosques.The greater ablution, by his characteristics, he requires of the bath, being carried out in the place called hammam.
The hammam, by its dimensions, lodges generally in a specific building, designed al effect and that is used to being in the proximity of the mosque, given the bond that by religious motives is established among bothAt the same time, the baths also have social functions; apart from offering welcoming relaxation, they serve as a place to meet people and a place for quiet conversation, outside of busy everyday life.Decoration was in general intended to be simple, often composed of geometric, straight lines that gave the area an comfortable feeling. Lighting also contributed heavily to this, with star-shaped, tinted windows in the ceiling letting in a soft, pleasant light.