A-105 (Hassan Fathy)

The Sacred Architecture of Hassan Fathy (The Architect) Is a romantic
story of a hero and a pioneer of Architecture that comes from the inner
soul and can only be appreciated by a romantic relationship
with nature of what the creature created that can not and will
never be copied.We have created man from “Teen” or “Clay “.”The
Vernacular Architecture is the closest of art to nature and the environment.
When we create a surrounding with the elements of the
surrounding to compliment and not to contradict our habitat.
A good example of this is the designs of Architects like
Frank Lloyd , Mies and other masters like Hassan Fathy.
An example is the “Skyscapers of Abu Dhabi” ….in a desert of Arabia.
An importation of western failure that is blindly copied.


Architecture for the Poor
Architect: Hassan Fathy
Hassan Fat'hy is the first Egyptian Architect in the 20th century who did not import Architectural Ideologies from the west. On contrary, he exported new Ideologies, and represented to the world a whole new architecture after re-discovering the marvels of our heritage, and re-weaving the strings together to generate this new Architecture.

Whether we accept the Architecture of Hassan Fat'hy or not, this does not change the fact that he have a major fingerprint stamped on our architectural thinking.

This coverage of Hassan Fat'hy and his works is not intended to defend nor to attack his ideas, but to supply information about him and his work on the first place.
So, everybody can build his own view and idea, and to open a free discussion about his work and ideas, to give us all a chance to understand his experience better, and get the lessons out of it to enlighten our way in our long journey towards our own new Egyptian Architecture.


Hassan Fat'hy was born in 23 March 1900, in Alexandria,
He went to Cairo, when he was 8 years old, and lived in Helwan with his family.

Hassan Fat'hy liked Painting, drawings, but he didn't have any specific ambitions.
He wished to be an agriculture engineer, but he couldn't.
Hassan Fat'hy joined the faculty of Engineering to study Architecture as part of Civil engineering. He graduated from the Faculty of Engineering in 1926.

In the beginning of his life, he worked in the department of school buildings in the local authority.
The first project he designed was a school in Talkha city.
He found the houses in this city were very ugly and it was not suitable for living in.
He tried to build his own house but he didn't like the style of it.

Then he found the beauty of the Nubian architecture.
Because it has its own character.

The first building he designed in his life was a house for old people in Menia.
He left his job in the local authority in 1930 then he went back to Cairo.

He worked as a professor of Fine Arts , at the University of Cairo (1946).
He couldn't teach his architecture in the college, because the classic architecture was the main subject in all colleges.

He established a private practice in Cairo, he put all his practice in el-Gourna village which was the most important project in his life, it was in 1946.

At the end of his life, he worked in Ministry of Education , in educational building department in (1949 - 1952).
Then he returned to work as a Head of the Architectural department in Fine Arts College in (1953 - 1957).
He worked in Dexsas Company in Grease, (1959 - 1961).
He worked with Ministry of Scientific Research , United Nations, Aghakhan organization, and in his own office in his house, (1963).
From this moment he was the point of attraction of the whole architects in the world.

Hassan Fat'hy utilized ancient design methods and materials.
He integrated knowledge of the rural Egyptian economic situation with a wide knowledge of ancient architectural and town design techniques. He trained local inhabitants to make their own materials and build their own buildings.

Biography - Projects - Research - Discussions - Articles - Bibliography


The Architecture for the poor:
Hassan Fathy: Architect.
Sometimes I doubt ; how many practicing Architects know of Hassan Fathy.?
I read recently that one of his students , Abdel Wahed Wakeel whom I was fortunate to meet in Saudi Arabia while I was working on some of his design projects is to receive an award for outstanding contribution to some traditional Architecture,the award is worth

Some of his works are:
The Qiblatain Mosque
The Quba Mosque.
King Saud Binabdel Aziz Mosque
The Quba Mosque.
The Solimaniya Mosque
To name but a few.
I remember asking him this; why design buildings that are replicas
of the past constructed buildings, an exact copy.?
I got a very absurd answer : he referred me to read a book.
Which I did not even care to remember.
I wanted to tell him to read : “Fountain Heads by Ann Rand, but
decided not to confront a famous Architect who I have only
fortunate to have met in his hotel room in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Anyhow, this article is dedicated to my “Idol” Hassan Fathy.
and not Abdel Waheed Wakeel.
I remember reading about Mr. Hassan Fathy and his “gouna ” project
in upper Egypt.If I remember correctly, this is where he really came
home to discover”True Architecture” amongst the poor “falaheens”
meaning “farmers” of Upper Egypt.If you know Egypt, you will
know what I trying to say.
The falaheens architecture of the poor is mostly “Mud” or
MUDOBE or Adobe!……..To be continued.
Please do visit the site as often as you
can, we are always thrilled to see the
number of hits increase…Meaning that
our community of:
Architecture for the POOR…..is increasing.


Article 102

Why should we use adobe to build houses? Why shouldn´t we? Here are all the advantages and disadvantages.

a) Independence and availability.
An important factor in favor of the mud is their independence and abundance, availability and use of raw materials for community participation and use by unskilled labor.
b) work.
In the case of traditional adobe, another benefit is the ease of cutting, turning or adjusting dimensionally.
c) Cost of manufacture.
Traditional technologies discussed here in the mud (adobe, adobe, mud pressing) no energy requirements
than the use of the sun as a source of drying. This represents a significant savings relative to other technologies.
In the case of the traditional adobe as construction material cost savings in energy production is decisive factor, especially when considering that the “burning” of the brick red clay represents 40% of the cost. If we compare the energy values required to produce both materials we find that 2,000 Btu to 30,000 against the adobe brick oven.
d) Soundproofing and air conditioning.
The use of mud in building a good acoustic and insulation, even when no pede be classified as a good thermal insulation in areas where there are marked differences in day-night temperature outside the wall of mud acts as a regulator in the environmental field domestic air conditioning.
e) environmental sense.
From the standpoint of growing environmental awareness that characterizes the current architecture is put together with mud environmentally sound technologies because of their auto recycling.

Buildings that incorporate the use of clay are particularly vulnerable to deterioration and deserving of care and maintenance. This of course depends greatly on the degree of stabilization and compaction of the material used and its original conditions. In walls of compressed earth establilizada and these weaknesses are minimal while the maximum rise buildings using traditional adobe adobe or not stabilized.
Another weakness is so far down the popularity it enjoys in the field of mechanization of industrial building systems due to its excessive dependence on manual labor ( “work intensive”), which tends to make the services of its professional production.

“The preservation and rehabilitation of a deteriorated adobe building is the more successful the more closely approximates the use of techniques that were used in the original construction.”
“The cyclical maintenance is key to revitalizing the use of adobe as building material.”
“The preservation of the adobe is one of the most difficult problems of conservation. Under the impact of weather, rain and increased humidity, mud and dirt to be reverted and collapses back inexorably to the land. Traditionally, the houses Mud and residential buildings are subject to annual repairs and maintenance, often adding to the natural mud additives to make it more durable. ”
“In the late’80s, when the excavations at Tel Dan in Israel revealed a triple-arched gate mud brick from the middle of the Bronze Age, the GCI was interested in investigating the preservation of the adobe. In a short period of exposure to the elements, the site began to deteriorate rapidly. ”
The use of siloxanes and hydrophobic polisilicatos are a great resource in the recovery of historical architecture constructed with mud, but their high cost undermines the popularity of its use and disclosure.
Expertise in the restoration of archaeological works in mud or in the recovery of historic and artistic heritage of the countries engaged in their use is an important technological resource.

Deterioration of signs and sources of construction in adobe

Among others:
– Damage caused by structural foundations insufficient, poor quality material or effects of external forces such as wind, water and earthquakes.
– Problems caused by excess moisture or humidity or rain water in the subsurface due to natural causes or inadequate drainage.
– Agrietamento caused by incompatibilities between the rat expansion / contraction in relation to the existing frieze on the wall of mud that coats.

More specifically referring to the humidity as the most aggressive and most common cause of deterioration of the adobe buildings can be made several recommendations:
1) Verify and restrict undesirable vegetation close to the construction of adobe, as the roots can penetrate the building leading to an excess of moisture inside of it.
2) Check the drainage of the pavement immediately to ensure the construction of adobe because it offers outstanding emposamiento appropriate to avoid the water at the foot of its walls.
3) Consider creating drainage channels which help to ease the burden of excessive water on the building.
4) Strengthen and wall friezes original hygroscopic applying protective films and / or waterproofing.
5) To combat wind erosion in the upper part of walls or in extreme cases into a curtain of vegetation as windbreaks.
6) To combat the ingress of pests, insects and rodents or birds that help accelerate the deterioration process of building.
7) To combat the growth of parasitic plants that stay in the interstices of the walls of the building.

There are a number of reasons for the loss of popularity of the technology of mud buildings in recent decades. Among them:

1) demands intensive labor.
2) Picture of the associated works mud in our latitudes (for misinformation) with “poverty.” Ironically, in other more technologically updated and effluent is currently considered a symbol of status.
3) regulatory ordinances construction.
4) cyclic maintenance requirements.
5) Image advertising. Constructions based on conventional technologies involving marketable an army of publicists: writers, builders, business owners of manufacturing materials, plumbing, blacksmithing, carpentry, and many more carriers. The builders of earthen structures show a very low-profile advertising.

But these conditions show signs of changing in the light of recent advances in the field of preservation of buildings and the continuing advances in technology and resource building.

Presents a sample of experiences that they go in search of applications and innovations in the traditional mud.

A-Adobe. New interpretations of a traditional technology
Currently witnessed in the beginning of a change in habits and attitudes about what had traditionally been the culture of the mud in construction. Today, without neglecting the approaches of the use of mud applied to technology use popular, low cost, saw the construction technology and resources have opened up roads in the use of once-despised and humble adobe that stimulate creativity and sensitivity to the architectural forms of mud in the architect today. The technology seems to have entered the mud, as we said earlier, a new phase not only refreshed and review of its management and construction technology but also their ability to express in architectural form and their collective value as an element of prestige within the urban life in which he had begun to participate with renewed vigor.

Progress of mechanization
From an inventory study of technologies used in the production of 288 million adobe bricks in New Mexico, USA in 1994 found that only 1% is devoted to the use of traditional manual technology while 99% is divided shared equally between mechanical production methods and semi-mechanical. Moreover the volume of production of stabilized adobe bricks are very low and only while the application of the blocks of clay pressed type CINVA-RAM was also very low only equivalent to 118,000 blocks.

Comparative production figures
Traditional construction (manual) adobe: adobe 300-500 / day
Construction of semi-mechanized adobes: 1.500-3.000 adobes per day
Mechanized construction of adobe: adobe 3,000 + / day

Adobe “High Technology”
“While the right combination of mud and clay remains unchanged, in this type of mud is added a new component: emulsified asphalt. This emulsion is a byproduct of petroleum which is commonly used in road construction. When mixed with water, mud and clay, depending on the ratio, you get a brick of adobe waterproof (semi-stabilized) or completely waterproofed (fully stabilized). The addition of emulsified asphalt is not accepted by all, since the outer wall of mud will be covered with a plaster (plaster). When the wall is an interior garden courtyard or their use is justified. The “purists” are not comfortable with the idea of adding oil to a product which, in itself offers a natural beauty to the building. Any asphalt gasification is another cause for concern. All construction materials used in a release gases that are found to be harmful, and some of them carcinogenic. We are not aware of the issue has been investigated the gasification of bitumen emulsion in some detail, especially its possible effects in the long term. ”

Pumice with Adobe to build shelters in the mountains of Colorado
This technology, experienced by William Porter and his non-profit company “Sangre de Cristo Adobe Solar Works uses a mobile unit for transportation of construction materials pumice (” scum “) very light, reddish color, texture, full of coral hollows and ridges that promote adherence to the mud of low cost and non-expansive when wetted. Once on the site, you are mixed with clay in a ratio of five parts of slag pumice for a part of local clay and 4% by weight of asphalt emulsion which results in a block maneuverable and lightweight, providing While a good balance of the isolation mass.

Building with wood chips and clay lightweight filler
One of the latest innovations in the development of modern German technology building with mud is the use of wood chips amalgamated with clay and used as lightweight insulation in external walls and internal. Since its emergence in the construction market in the early nineties, the contractors have been able to offer a piece of clay filler, monolithic, natural and healthy. The slippage of material used is comparable to the systems of mud and straw, but much shorter production time, easier to construct and less time for drying and curing. Additionally, it is more efficient, and less emphasis on the involvement of human resource.
The mixing ratio is 3-4 buckets of chips for every bucket of mud light depending on the strength / weight required, the quality of the clay and the size of chips used. This combination is amalgamated into the mixer for one minute until all chips that have been coated with a layer of mud and, upon completion, is already ready to be cast in the formaletas forming the mold wall. Then empty the mixture processed to verify the absence of empty spaces.
It is feasible to use a variety of resources and sustaining the fabric of the mud wall, including the use of bamboo sticks. Other types of wood frames more or less formal as the case may be used. The existence of the plot contributes to sustaining rigid and fortify the constitution of the wall, at the same time reducing the chances of contraction. Once dry the surface of the wall can be implemented on a frieze of plaster it without difficulty.
A wall of 30 cm. thickness may require approximately eight weeks of drying time.

Industrialization of the B-Bahareque
“One man alone can not build your own house but ten men working in a group can easily build ten houses.”
– Hassan Fathi

Inspired by this philosophy, the French-Canadian “Polypus, based in Canada, projected to the world of systematized technology bahareque (provided that the system called” bajareque “) beginning with applications in Latin American and Arab countries. A source of surprises in this increasingly globalizing societies living on the planet …

The product of the experience of Polypus, to demonstrate the superior performance of traditional structures of reeds and mud, endure unscathed a devastating earthquake in Central America, is a type of housing construction “basket” flexible and adaptable to external conditions, formed for a structure that uses a sustaining frame of treated wood against insects and moisture, as a plot, on which lies a mass of lateritic clay. This simple structure can be transported in crates to the remotest regions to its conformation in place. So, a box of 1.20 x 1.20 x 3.60 mts. and about 320 kg. can accommodate the weight of components to build a house with an area of 40 m2.

Barro casting (cast earth “) and calcined gypsum
The technology does not require emptying mud placing bricks or adobe blocks or rammed earth walls typical slow compaction of the clay technology. In contrast, consists of a rapidly emptying construction once and for all can be used to remove formaletas short time emptying. What makes the above setting is the speed of calcined gypsum and the increase in strength until it reaches a strength, yet moist enough to support a wall in its final site. And most surprising of all is the very low concentration of material required to agglutinate the mud that comes with it. A ratio of 15% or less of calcined gypsum provide sufficient strength to perform the process described above. And do not warrant metal reinforcements …
Traditionally, the technology of building with mud reflects an image of intensive labor that makes it attractive only to very poor (who use it without intermediaries) or the very rich (who can pay for it). In contrast, the technology of clay casting, combined with a ratio of calcined gypsum reduces the work difficult and slow labor of replacing it once a few hours of use of construction machinery. And the innovative design does not lose its validity as the “armed” the material is in its plastic state.
The costs of construction with the technology of clay casting are significantly lower than those for adobe and rammed earth and even could be, depending on the circumstances, regarding the “new” bahareque (systematic).
Technology is competitive in mud casting a wide spectrum ranging from houses to the mass production of high costs to purchase.

Despite their natural resistance to moisture, it is always advisable to coat the outer surface of walls with a layer of silicone once the wall is built totlalmente dry. This spray without altering their appearance offers a protection which extends up to five years.

Article 101

It is the odd paradox of adobe that it serves at once as the fashionable choice of shelter for the rich in the American Southwest and as the promise for housing the poor in the third world. Common mud, or ”earthen architecture,” to use the stiffer technical term, has come to the fore again as architects march backward in time in search of style and shelter.

An increasingly urgent question is how to preserve the relics of this primitive form of shelter, which grows so gracefully out of the earth from which it was dug, but which also melts when it rains, cracks when it heats and cools, flakes in the wind and shudders when the earth quakes.

Santa Fe sophisticates aside, more than 30 percent of the world’s people still live in earthen homes, said Neville Agnew, scientific program director at the Getty Conservation Institute in Marina del Rey, Calif. The institute is a sponsor of the Sixth International Conference on the Conservation of Earthen Architecture here this week.

Not a few of the more than 300 participants who came from about 30 countries were surprised to learn from Richard Pieper, a New York architect, that many 19th-century homes in rainy upstate New York are really nothing more than bricks of mud beneath Greek Revival and Gothic Revival wooden skins.

That these houses could survive so long in such a hostile clime serves to underscore the versatility and durability of earthen architecture, often scorned in this and other parts of the world as a sign of poverty. But a new appreciation for its advantages over cement and wood is emerging: with foot-thick walls, an earthen home acts as a thermal stabilizer, damping daily temperature swings by keeping the warmth of the day at night and the cool of the night during the day.

Indeed adobe construction, which dates back 10,000 years, may serve mankind for centuries to come. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, looking forward to human colonization of the moon, has considered building structures there by filling bags with moon rocks and dust, and stacking them up.

For now, though, the economic crisis in poorer nations has drawn attention to mud. ”The housing problems of the Third World are such that we cannot ignore any technology,” said Hugo Houben, a Belgian who is vice president of the International Center for Earth Construction in Grenoble, France. ”How are we going to build thousands of classrooms and hospitals?” he said. ”We have got to revitalize local know-how and use it.”

It seemed both incongruous and fitting to hold the Adobe 90 conference in New Mexico, where multimillionaires live in splendid adobe-style mansions in Santa Fe only a few miles from primitive Pueblo Indian adobes that are still occupied nearly a millennium after their construction.

More than 500,000 Americans lived in 176,000 adobe homes in 1980, according to census figures, mostly in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California. About 1,500 new adobes are built annually. Given the labor involved, it is cheaper in this country to build a conventional home, but in drier parts of Africa, Asia and South America, mud is the cheapest and perhaps the only option for shelter.

Adobe is made by mixing clay, sand and silt and forming the mixture into bricks, which dry hard in the sun. In some countries the preferred technique is rammed earth, in which the mud mixture is piled into a wooden form that is removed when the mud is dry. In a third method, called puddling, layer upon layer of mud is applied by hand.

Sun-baked bricks are used in the American Southwest; asphalt or chemicals may be added to stabilize the mud. Sometimes straw is added to bind the mud and promote drying.

Adobes need much attention, especially after rains, but they hold up well if the roof and foundation are good. ”All it needs is a good hat and a good pair of shoes,” said Paul G. McHenry Jr., an architect in Albuquerque.

But matters are far more complex when it comes to preserving archeological remains, all the more so because many earthen landmarks are still occupied. The ravages of time and neglect can be seen just 20 miles north of here in the remains of Fort Selden, a 19th-century Army outpost set in a clump of cottonwoods in the Mesilla Valley. The walls have crumbled, and only the outlines of the encampment can be discerned.

Pueblo Mudobe!


The Pueblo were cliff dwellers. They built homes of adobe brick on cliffs and on mesas. Homes were stacked one on top of the other, like an apartment complex. Sometimes they were stacked four high. Those who had homes on the ground floor could simply walk up to their door. Others had to climb ladders to reach their front door.

Each floor of homes had a walkway that ran in front of many doorways. Once you reached the next level up, if that was your floor, you used the walkway to reach your front door. If you needed to go higher, you found a ladder and climbed to the next level.