Heritage, Egypt, Architecture

Hassan Fathy: Human Reference in Architecture

Rare archival footage of a master at work

(EE) Films presents a rare document of the legendary architect and teacher of Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil—Hassan Fathy—giving a talk to the participants of his workshop in New Mexico in 1980. During the lively conversation, Fathy, with the very precision and wit that he was known for, discusses not only the intricacies of building with vaults and domes but also the broader philosophical threads constituting his approach: the spirituality of architectural practice and the radiance of materials used in construction, the necessity to reintroduce human reference in the way we build and think of the environment, and the alliance and symbiosis of architectural and natural laws.

The description from Bill White, who was a participant in the gathering and digitized the original Betamax videotape:

“In September 1980, Hassan Fathy, mason Allahadin Mustapha Mohammed, and another Nubian mason, Mohammed Abdul Jalil Mousa, came to New Mexico to demonstrate how to build a roof of adobe. Three basic roof structures—a catenary arch vaulted roof, a Byzantine dome roof, and a larger Sassanid dome roof—were built during the two-week workshop.”

Hassan Fathy
Egyptian architect (1900-1989) who devoted himself to creating residential architecture for the poor. He used traditional materials and ancient construction methods, designing entire residential neighborhoods at minimal cost. He taught architecture for many years at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Cairo University.