The architecture of Hassan Fathy : between western and non-western perspectives
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the career of the Egyptian architect, Hassan Fathy (1900-1989). Part one deals with Fathy's biography. It contains an account of his family background, his childhood and education, the influences of the Egyptian vernacular and Islamic architecture which helped shape his identity and the influences of modem architectural movements on his early works. It also outlines the development of his nationalistic attitude and personal architectural approach within the context of Egypt's cultural and intellectual history. An examination of his work and theories during the period from 1957 to 1962 when he worked with Doxiadis Associates in Athens; the events surrounding the establishment of Fathy's Institute for Appropriate Technology in 1976 and an assessment of his architecture at the time of his death are also included. The fifth and sixth chapters examine the formal vocabulary of his buildings and projects and the design principles of his village planning. Chapter seven focuses on the complexity of Fathy's architecture and the richness and range of its theoretical intentions. It also assesses Fathy's attitudes towards modernism and the International Style, issues such as auto colonialism and symbolism in architecture and critical responses to his works and philosophy. The relationship of his philosophy to movements such as Post-modernism, community architecture and self-help building, eco-architecture and sustainability and tendencies such as neo-vernacular and earth building are also examined. This reveals the significance of Fathy's approach while placing him within the wider perspective of twentieth-century architecture. The thesis argues that Fathy is one of the most important architects of the twentieth century, whose works have had a widespread influence on the architecture of the Islamic world and whose ideas have extended to the Western world. Chapter eight examines the ways in which architects in both the Western and non-western worlds view Fathy's ideas and works. It distinguishes those architects who have opted to use literal references from his work in an eclectic fashion from those who have made more considered responses to his ideals and principles. A catalogue of Fathy's buildings and projects and a comprehensive bibliography of Fathy's published and unpublished writings are included.