Today's Google homepage doodle, commemorated Egypt's architectural legend Hassan Fathy's birthday, so we put together a list of the spectacular work he did. Plus a short letter of appreciation.
Dearest Hassan Fathy,
We know you are not alive anymore, although we wish you were, so you could continue designing unrivalled architecture, but we would like to take the time to dedicate a tribute to you by collating some of your most spectacular works in this article.
We would like to thank you for the houses, mosques, villages, schools, and all the architecture you designed, because as we look back today, we are left in awe at how incredible your work was. You designed structures to withstand climate variations, consideration to public health, and ancient crafting skills. We are also grateful for your dedication to creating architecture for the poor. Structures that were energy efficient and sustainable for them to live in. We are only now realising just how important this was, and had they seen its value at the time, it would have provided a better life to many people.
You wrote in your book, Architecture for the Poor, that the peasants “needed decent houses, but houses are expensive. In large towns, capitalists are attracted by the returns from investment in housing, and public bodies frequently provide extensive accommodation for citizens, but neither capitalists, nor the state, seem willing to undertake the provision of peasant houses,” but they didn’t understand you. They loved you momentarily for it, but they desired far more than what they could attain, and your villages were abandoned.
Your most famous work was in Luxor’s New Gourna Village, which, at the time, was also unexciting for the villagers, but today, UNESCO and World Monuments Fund closely monitor it, and your abandoned villages are now key tourist destinations for many people around the world.
Thank you for your love and appreciation of hand-smoothed domes, and walls covered in adobe. Thank you for the revival of traditional Egyptian mud-brick construction techniques, and for ignoring the British's insistence on red brick structures - which cannot insulate and were found to be environmental hazards, opposite from the 4,000 year old Egyptian alternative. Thank you for preserving traditional Nubian vaulted mud-brick structures.
Thank you again, and Happy 117th birthday.
Hassan Fathy's Home
Photo: Margaret Randall
Photo: Margaret Randall
New Gourna Village - Luxor, Egypt
New Baris Village - Kharga, Egypt
Dar Al Islam Mosque - New Mexico, USA
Al Kazerouni House
Sadat Rest House
Akil Sami House
Fouad Riad House
Abdelrahman Nassif House
Sidi Krir - North Coast
Hamed Said's House
Hassanein Bey Mausoleum - Salah Salem
The Stoppelaere House - Valley of the Kings