Hassan Fathy and Continuity in Islamic Arts and Architecture

Hassan Fathy and Continuity in Islamic Arts and Architecture: The Birth of a New Modern

Ahmad Hamid
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt15m7g2j
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  • Book Info
    Hassan Fathy and Continuity in Islamic Arts and Architecture
    Book Description:

    Hassan Fathy, the Egyptian architect known for his recognition of the potential of vernacular forms as a vital force in contemporary architectural design, sought to integrate the traditions of Islamic art with his modern visions for living. Guided by Fathy’s principles, Ahmad Hamid, an architect who collaborated with Hassan Fathy in the Institute for Appropriate Technology, identifies questions about the nature of Islamic art and its building culture, as well as the origins of modern architecture. This richly illustrated book provides new insights into Hassan Fathy’s profuse, pathbreaking design documents and built projects, while exploring the socioeconomic, environmental, psychological, and esthetic components of Fathy’s work in the light of a quest for a new universal modernity for the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-372-7
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. FOREWORD
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Axel Langer

    It was Josef Frank, an Austro-Swedish architect, who, in 1931, the very year in which an exhibition in New York declared modern architecture to be ‘international,’¹ dismissed Walter Gropius’ dictum that a building should work like a machine simply by saying “beware of phrases!”² For Frank, a machine was a means not an aim in itself; hence a modern house meant more than mere functionality. Rather, it should embrace all aspects of life, answer our needs, respect our feelings, keep the human scale, and exist in harmony with the people who live in it. In this respect, Josef Frank and...

  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)

    As a student of Architecture at Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering, I was ashamed that we Egyptians and Muslims had nothing in our syllabi that could be considered comparable to the genius of the west. Islamic architecture was omitted from the curriculum as being of no interest or value for modern architects. It bothered me when I found that Egyptians believed the image propagated by some orientalists that Islam,¹ and by implication its art and architecture, was backward. I yearned for a reality where knowledge was not under the hegemony of one group. I was looking for a paradigm that...

  7. 1 THE HIBERNATION OF A TRADITION
    (pp. 1-8)

    In the exhilaration that accompanied the arrival of what we know as ‘modern man,’ tradition had to disguise itself. The constant flow of inventions in the twentieth century created what could be called a contraction in the pulse of time. The quick pace of inventions allowed societies to marvel at the fruits of modern creation as if they were being completely born anew, with no connection to the past. Society at large adopted the scientific viewpoint that the ‘latest’ is always best. Modernity brought with it the belief that a certain newness was repeatedly created, one that enabled each generation...

  8. 2 THE INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF ISLAMIC ART AND ARCHITECTURE BY THE AGA KHAN FOUNDATION
    (pp. 9-44)

    A noteworthy endeavor to initiate the resurfacing of the tradition of Islamic art and architecture occurred in the final quarter of the twentieth century. Exceptional attention was given by Prince Karim Aga Khan to this tradition with the eyes of a patron founder, and a scientific award was conceived as a means to better the dire situation of Muslim societies’ built culture, and in pursuit of individual or collective excellence within architectural physical models, instigating further development. The documents of the proceedings of the seminars created by the Aga Khan Award show that the participants constantly challenged the questions regarding...

  9. 3 HASSAN FATHY: A CONDENSER OF AN OLDER INTELLIGENCE
    (pp. 45-148)

    Thus far, Hassan Fathy has been portrayed by the literary world as an antagonist, specifically to avant-garde modernity. The poor and underprivileged, whom he aspired to serve, viewed him as a protagonist of their customs and traditions. And to those who subscribe to radical thought, Fathy was a reviver at times but with a liberal proclivity that aroused a suspicion of radicalism. In this chapter I will attempt to trace the underlying reasons for the above, using examples that help position Fathy’s coordinates on the modernist map. This necessitates the recasting of tradition on to modernity, thus bringing forth the...

  10. Plates
    (pp. None)
  11. 4 TOWARD A NEW ISLAMIC ART AND ARCHITECTURE
    (pp. 149-174)

    All too often, the understanding of the dynamic aspects of the world operating within diverse contexts gets mired in the polarization of ideas. Accordingly, dichotomies are prioritized while the connecting threads that exist get brushed aside. Hassan Fathy’s outlook was rooted in an understanding of both continuous change and the overall unity that necessitates a “retracing of the steps.” Here I am borrowing some indicative phrases as conceptualized by Latour (1993) to help me concisely frame problems within the current modernity. “There is an Ariadne’s thread,” he writes, “that would allow us to pass with continuity from the local to...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 175-184)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 185-198)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 199-206)