Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Arab House in Egypt: The Contemporary Vernacular..... A New Edition by Adelina Picone

The Arab House in Egypt: The Contemporary Vernacular.....

A New Edition by Adelina Picone


By Adelina Picone
Published by Editoriale Jaca Book, 2009
ISBN 8816408561, 9788816408562
300 pages

Ashraf M.Salama, nella prefazione, ripercorre la storia della capitale d’Egitto, cercando di recuperare la memoria di una tradizione tipologica dell’abitare arabo.

Extracts from the Preface "Cultural Evolution and the Egyptian House" by Ashraf M. Salama

"Traditional houses in Egypt were discussed in the literature in a fragmented manner. While in many of the writings emphasis was placed on the stylistic debates and the analysis of their cultural authenticity, little emphasis was placed upon functional, climatic and socio-spatial aspects of the continuous process of transformation of their major spaces and within different regions and contexts. While it is evident that this book covers a wide spectrum of issues, I find it an opportunity to reflect on some issues that contextualize the discussion.

It is clearly evident that this is an important contribution where Dr. Adele Picone takes the debate further by offering a comprehensive analytical and articulated overview of traditional houses in different regions in Egypt from Nubia through the Western Desert Oases to Cairo. This is not all; the analysis goes beyond the typical discussions and offer reflections on important socio-spatial elements with emphasis on reactions to climatic conditions and natural light. ........................................."

"..................................Linking the concepts of culture and cultural change to the influences and impacts on Egyptian traditional houses, it is believed that -all along its history- Cairo was exposed to a layer upon layer of imported cultures that have been localized over time and adapted to regional conditions and local taste. When colonization arrived with Ismail pacha in the late 19th century, a whole new set of cultural imports was introduced, developing Cairo into a typical dualistic pattern of the colonial city with its new house types. Progressively, paradoxically, and according to the successive awkward cultural and political circumstances, a new avenue was opened for a process of continuous experimentation of ideas, resulting in a mix of hybrid--in many cases-- ambiguous thoughts. This was followed by oversimplification of traditions and a complete loss of identity, and in turn, it was dramatically reflected on the evolution of different house types. The work of Adele Picone paves the road to retrieve some of this lost identity by showing articulated examples of contemporary physical interventions in different regions within the Egyptian context. It is my firm belief that Dr. Picone offers lessons on how to relate to some of the missing links with the past while addressing the dialectic relationship between cultural constants and variables in the design of Egyptian houses. .............................................."

"..................................... An important assertion can be made within the context of this book; that is the continuous need for architects to understand the impact of cultural processes that influenced the transformation of traditional houses on the macro and micro scales. Aspects that pertain to urbanization, migration, westernization, and modernization represent impacts of cultural changes. Modernization and development must be considered as forms of cultural change and need to be investigated and carefully studied rather than automatically accepted. Westernization which is an impact of an acculturation process in the Egyptian society is a good example of this type of automatic acceptance. Thus, the examination—undertaken by Dr. Picone—of different physical elements of traditional houses and their spatial transformations sets the standards for understanding future perspectives that pertain to cultural changes and as a result of cultural processes. ............................."

Architecture-Urbanism is dedicated to a) those who are interested in creating livable and sustainable environments and buildings that meet socio-cultural and socio-behavioral needs of people, environments that are responsive to historical, traditional and physical constraints, b) to those who are interested in finding panacea for the ills of our globalized world, and c) to those who are interested in regaining what cultures and societies have lost by the acts of architects. ____________________________________________________________________________