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Cultural crisis.

Clearly there is something extremely wrong with much of the architecture of the Arab world. Khaled Asfour suggests that the problems lie in a cut and paste mentality in which images are moved from one culture to another without sufficient understanding of their meaning. He advocates a critical stance that will enable architects to re-understand the lessons of tradition without copying historic forms.

The beginning

In 1888 the Egyptian Minister of Public Works, Ali Mubarak, wrote: 'Today people have abandoned old ways in construction in favour of European style because of its more pleasant appearance, better standards and lower costs. In the new system, rooms are either square or rectangular in shape. In the old system, living rooms together with their dependencies were disordered, corridors and courtyards occupied a lot of space, most of the spaces lacked fresh air and sunlight, which are the essential criteria for health, thus humidity accumulated in these spaces [causes] disease . . . Facades never followed any geometric order thus looked like those of cemeteries. In the new system facades are ordered and have good familiar look.'(1)

This statement is a century old. It reflected the concerns of a man who lived his early life in a traditional environment, then travelled to Paris seeking modern education, and returned home to become the Minister of Education and later Minister of Public Works.(2) At that time, Egypt like other Arab countries started to receive a major influx of foreign ideas very different from their local traditions. This caused reformers such as Mubarak to measure local traditions against new standards, raising many concerns in the process.

The reason for Mubarak's shift was twofold: first was the change of taste that viewed irregularity of old forms as bad, and uniform straight lines as good, the second reason was a concept of new hygiene that criticized insufficient amount of sun and air admitted inside traditional spaces if compared with European architecture.

Yet the Minister's statement was not just a preference for one style over the other. To achieve what he wanted and change the built environment from irregular to regular lines, one whole system of city growth had to be replaced by another. Irregularity in the old city emerged from gradual accretion of decisions based on the first come first served principle. It also meant micro-autonomy for early settlers over later ones, and a dialogical relation among neighbours leading to an unwritten code of ethics. On the other hand, the new regularity meant a universal building code for all situations; centralized control over the built environment, pre-designed layouts for whole neighbourhoods to ensure standardized sites, and setback rules to ensure regular forms. In this light Mubarak's statement becomes very serious.

To call for replacement of one system by the other has an ideological repercussion, it does not include improvement to the existing. The Minister never asked if the old system could be improved to meet higher standards of hygiene and the new taste of regular forms.

The mood of the statement was more to justify enthusiasm behind introducing the new taste rather than to express sorrow and misfortune for discarding the old system. Rationale for replacement was not allowed to interact with the logic of the old system to test its potentiality for change, for it was part of the new system coming to the Arab World in a single package, take it or leave it. While in Paris, Mubarak had seen Haussmann's renovations of the French capital. On his return to Egypt, the Minister introduced the Haussmann approach and its raison d'etre.

Cutting and pasting

For the first time in the Arab world, a process of 'cutting and pasting' was introduced as a cultural mechanism. The process involves cutting ideas from its original cultural field, the European, and pasting them with their logic in the new field, the Arabian. In the process, there is the assumption that the new field has similar cultural predicaments and would yield similar results upon transfer of ideas.

The process of cutting and pasting does not imply too much thinking, it implies too much imaging: image believing, image selecting, image cloning, image recycling, and so on. Associated with imaging is too much optimism: better life, better standards and higher cultivation. The power of an image, as Susan Sontag suggests, becomes very relevant: 'There is the surface. Now think - or rather feel, intuit - what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way'.(3)

Perception in this case is two-fold: engaging in the 'look' to the extent of adopting it, while believing in its will to make something better out of the present. Hegemony of the image becomes a way of life, a design criterion. Meaning becomes an intrinsic value of the form that does not change with time or place. One instantly and exclusively recalls the other. If one disappears the other follows. This cultural mechanism of cutting and pasting that started in the Arab world during Mubarak's period is still with us today, shaping much of our architectural thought.

Modern Movement

Following the Neo-Classical age in which Mubarak wrote, the Arab world was submerged in Modernism or rather a crude image of Modernism. The image that was pasted on to the Arab cultural landscape hardly included architectural polemics of the so-called Modern era. It usually focused on a few straight lines perpendicular to each other with mechanical distribution of structure. Spaces were ordered according to prerogatives of the repeated module and possible industrialization of parts. The image also included a simplistic notion of functionalism: arrangement of spaces, as in a jigsaw puzzle, to satisfy the basic programme of a building.

This is very striking. Though the Modern Movement has extremely complex relations with Western cultures that gave it birth, and is difficult to characterize in totality because of its immense diversity in theory and practice, nevertheless the Movement succeeded in travelling to many Arab cultures as a single simplistic image. It is acceptable, as Edward Said mentioned, 'Once an idea gains currency because it is clearly effective and powerful, there is every likelihood that during its peregrinations [from one setting to another] it will be reduced, codified and institutionalized'.(4) What is not acceptable, in my opinion, is such reduction and codification at the expense of design quality in the host culture.

Penn dorm

An undergraduate dormitory in Pennsylvania University designed by Saarinen does reflect design quality in the original culture which is lost upon transfer to the Arab World. Even if discussion is limited to functionalism, we note a distinguished interior that reflects the very essence of student lifestyle inside a university campus. The main atrium of the dorm suggests energy' and motion of youth communicating among themselves: visibility of eye contact from different levels, intimate conversations in projected balconies, reasonable yelling across fenestration, transparency of motion from one level to another. The atrium also reflects privacy of small activities such as living behind wooden shutters or the exclusion of large activities in the multi-purpose hall of the second level. It is even possible to monitor activities without being seen through movable parts of shutters, and to externalize private spaces to public awareness through French windows overlooking the atrium. Many stories are evoked by this design. Students with different personalities can mark their existence comfortably in this space with minimum conflict. The lack of consistent treatment in facades as manifested in the shifting of planes from solid to void, from transparency to opacity, and the abrupt change of character from one corner to another, reflects the mixed emotions and actions of students maturing in an academic arena. The design in this way surpasses narrow functionalism which satisfies the programme for sleeping, working and eating for a group of students.

Gulf University building

By contrast, to understand the narrow sense of the term as found abundantly in the Arab world, we can imagine a space for student learning as nothing but a series of long corridors stacked on top of each other, overlooking a central atrium. The example is a building in the Gulf University. Instead of having the central atrium as a possibility for accidental socializing between classes, it is reduced to being a light-well for surrounding spaces with not much chance for communicating verbally or visually with upper levels. The atrium is elongated in proportions, both vertically and horizontally, intimidating students. The effect is further accentuated by projections on the top floor overlooking the atrium. Instead of perceiving corridors as spaces for repose and temporal break to relieve the intense learning experience of students, they are just a horizontal circulation from one end to another. The design basically fulfils the direct need to have rooms with necessary circulation patterns but does not try to engage sensitively with the vibrant world of a teenager. The mood of the space is that of an institute that aims to assert discipline and order on germinating minds.

Why Modernism?

During the first 20 years of image transfer, Arab cultures were eager to practise this simplistic version of Modernism with great excitement, for it gave them a fresh visual start after their independence from nineteenth-century colonial powers. Once again, the Arab world received the image: it was a token of progress. The Hegelian notion of historical determinism was strong, leaving little or no space for tradition to become part of this image. Senses of preservation, destruction, neglect and remote respect can describe the confused attitude of Arab cultures toward their traditional environments in the '50s and '60s.

Regional Modernism

A decade later, this atmosphere gradually softened with the concern to recycle past images of traditional architecture in modern design. Straight lines and repeated modules were dressed in traditional garments. The rationale that was packaged with the new image is that it represents local identity, indigenous character, national heritage, rooted history, and so on. Yet this rationale of the new image never negated the one before. Both complemented one another: progress was expressed in the presence of tradition. Arab architects tried to resolve the apparent duality.

Rifa'at Chadirji, for instance, believes in image abstraction. While traditional images are an inspiring source for his architecture, canons of Cubism and De Stijl help transform such inspiration into real facades. These canons give him a liberal spirit when abstracting from history. He neither copies exact forms, nor changes their lines for approximate semblance. He is not even bound by traditional principles of proportions or composition. Historical forms to him can be reduced to a hint - an essence that has little or no image semblance with his modern facades. The stronger the abstraction of historical images, the closer they are to the modern image of the plans; thus escaping the naive layering effect generated by two different images.

The majority of Arab architects also try to escape from naive layering but do not approve of high abstraction of tradition. They favour image editing. An example of this group is Mohamed Makiyya. He introduces historic images in his work, giving modern technology the upper hand in shaping them. They are arranged on simple principles of Modernism and Classicism: respect for axial symmetry, formal sequence of spaces, standardization of the module, expression of structural elements, and openness of spaces. The final image has visual links with the past but is unmistakably modern in expression.

Other Arab architects do not mind this naive layering effect and believe in image cloning. They do not flavour abstraction of history, but rather copy images from past architecture as accurately as possible. Abul Kheil, driven by strong enthusiasm for historical images, can add to his building a facade made of mud and decorated by Najdi motifs. This is done after he has established a concrete structure and a network of repeated module.

In the eyes of a few Arab architects the issue of layering was rejected, in total, as a false and insincere approach. This forced them to replace modern with traditional building materials. In this way, their buildings appear genuinely traditional in form and content. An example of such an approach is the work of Ramses Wissa Wassefin Harrania Village, Giza. He believed in the superiority of this resurrection process over the Arab version of 'Modernity in disguise' for the latter does not consider basic environmental factors.

Borrowing generates another model

Borrowing from other cultures is global. Some critics believe that borrowing must lead to misreading of the original, or contamination of the master model.(5) Here the sense of misreading means degeneration in quality. Other critics, such as Edward Said and Mohamed Al-Jabri, believe that these misreadings are historic transfer of ideas from one setting to another and have the right to be judged on their own merit.(6) They should not be seen as a continuous shadow of the original but as another original. Borrowed ideas do interact with different circumstance on transfer, giving birth to interpretations so particular (and so private) to the new settings that outcomes become self-sustainable.

Worldliness - quasi-autonomy of architecture

The term 'worldliness' of Edward Said becomes important to the understanding of this point because it acknowledges the local world round the borrowed idea as distinct from one setting to another, and which exerts different pressure and limitations on the borrowed idea in every new setting. The term thus liberates the borrowed idea from its origins.

Stanford Anderson(7) and Michael Hays(8) interpret this worldliness to architecture as 'quasi-autonomy'. They assume that making architectural discussion is not totally self-referential but engages partially with society outside the boundaries of the discipline. Quasi-autonomy means that neither society nor architecture has full control over the other.

Architecture has an irreducible set of theories of its own, which do not relate easily to the outside world. It also has channels subdued under social influence. Behind the arguments of such scholars is partial concern that their architectural critical environment has gone too far in disengaging from reality, either in its relation with cultural landscape, or its relation with earlier architectural movements.

Intellectual environment in the Arab world - no inquisitive consciousness

In the Arab world, the intellectual environment is different from that of the West. While architectural production is so interactive with society through naive imaging, architectural debate is suffering from internal crisis. It does not have the inquisitive consciousness by which it may screen ideas. While borrowing can be a chance to untie chains of events inherent in a culture, so yielding to innovation without inquisitive consciousness, it is almost always an agent of mediocrity. In the Arab world, this is equally true for both cases: borrowing from local history, and borrowing from foreign cultures.

Inquisitive consciousness is the will to learn, to criticize and to rationalize. First, the idea is studied in its original setting with the aim of understanding reasons for its evolution, its patterns of interaction with its immediate environment, and the polemical debates caused by its existence. Second, the idea is monitored after transfer to the new setting with the aim of improving on empirical reality. Associated with this consciousness is the understanding that there is always a potential for changing the idea to survive in the new setting with minimal damage. Most important of all, there is the understanding that there is the need to produce polemical debates, theories and criticisms to continuously monitor the behaviour of the idea in the new setting.

If we excuse Arab practitioners for not engendering a debate based on inquisitive consciousness to foreign theories, what excuse can we give them for not depending on their own historic forms to generate a discussion? It seems that tradition shares with Modernism the condition of being alien and remote. Can this alienation be caused by research and teaching of the architectural history of the Muslim world?

Architectural history of the Muslim world

More often than not, knowledge gathered around historical forms is presented as formal descriptions, historical accounts, archaeological reports and stylistic classifications. Students of architecture may eventually understand evolution of historic forms, the social function of spaces, the political environment of the period, and the name of the patron. They may even understand the interrelation of all these issues together, but in no way can they understand their possible relevance to present architectural practice.

Here I am not negating the importance of this form of knowledge, but in the field of design it is not very informative. Through slide presentations, such knowledge leaves students with only a vocabulary of images pasted in their memory to be crudely retrieved in their future profession. The situation eventually leads to remoteness and alienation from history.

Absent from knowledge gathered around historical forms is documentation about design theories, leading directly to naive imaging. Still worse is the method of research on historic forms. It is usually of positivist nature that refuses to depart easily from textual evidence. An example from history is important at this juncture.

Mamluk kuttab - innovation

In the mid fourteenth century, the Mamluk dynasty which ruled Egypt perpetuated a tradition of erecting mosques inside the city of Cairo. The building programme of a mosque usually included, besides being a place for prayer, a mausoleum for the founder, a place for teaching scholars, a library and lodging for the academic community of the school-mosque complex. Towards the end of the fourteenth century a new function was added to this programme: providing a place for teaching the Koran to orphans (a kuttab). Architects of the period must have asked themselves what treatment should be given to this new function.

Two predominant themes were available at the time: one for residential buildings, the other for religious foundations. In the first case, the facade was composed of a uniform arrangement of window openings and projections, screened by panels of finely latticed woodwork to preserve the privacy of the family in the upper floors. In the second case, the facade of the mosque was plain, yet marked by vertical recessed panels in which window openings were arranged regularly on top of one another.

Neither of the two themes was adopted in treating the facade of the kuttab. A terrace in the upper floor was designed to house the children who sat around the teacher to recite the Koran. To screen the kuttab with an intricate lattice of woodwork similar to that of houses was not necessary for there was no serious level of privacy to be maintained. On the contrary, the collective act of the children reciting the Koran would be easily heard from the street, signalling to the passer-by the charitable nature of the founder.(9) This purpose would not have been served as effectively if children were placed in a closed room with iron grilled windows similar to those of mosque facades.

Innovation evident was not only in choosing the space for the kuttab but also in details. The balustrade of the terrace is specially designed to frame children's faces through a row of arched openings so that they could watch the outside world from the terrace, hence children would not feel dwarfed by the height of the balustrade. The ideal location of the kuttab is at the north-western side of the facade where shade and cool air can be provided, so children could enjoy a comfortable learning environment.

Designers did not simply focus on satisfying a mere function of a classroom but they considered a socio-political raison d'etre as well as the delicate needs of children. This intertwined aim led to the innovation in form. There was no need to copy the existing pattern of facades for the sake of authenticity. The renewed programme of the mosque required new design. Logic produced a new form but also recycled old forms in a new way. The design of the balustrade was inspired by a cupboard in a living space; the arched openings for example that framed vessels and ewers in a cupboard, were used in the balustrade of the kuttab to frame the face of the children. In this manner, the existing craftsmanship in wood gave the new design a familiar look. The final outcome was new but it was not alien.

Learning from the kuttab

The kuttab answers those architects who fear novelty and feel obliged to hide their building behind traditional images. It shows that the question of novelty has always been answered throughout the history of design: the problem lies with those architects who tend to flatten out history into a whole, diminishing distinctions and blunting criticism.

The example also shows that the sequence of analysis need not adhere too much to historiography. It is quite a different mind-set from that of a historian. In this approach, an attempt is made to read the design logically, so readings can vary from one analyst to another. The act itself means the perception of history as a design challenge and hence reduces its alienation from contemporary culture.

Probing into history can evoke many design ideas, the most important, in my opinion, are those related to design method - an issue that could hardly be tackled by an architectural historian of the Muslim world. The next example reflects on design method.

Ottoman houses - design by accretion

On studying traditional houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth century of Cairo, we can make a general observation: there are two kinds of domestic space, one is regular in geometry, the other irregular. The first kind is more important since it usually includes reception halls, family living rooms and loggias. Irregular spaces are mainly service areas such as corridors, courtyards, kitchens, bathrooms, ante-chambers and storage rooms.

Regular spaces have standard specifications repeated in most houses. Reception halls or family living rooms (usually referred to as qa'a) are rectangular in shape and usually divided into three parts, the central of which is one step lower in level; walls have projected and screened windows that may overlook courtyard or street. Loggias must overlook courtyards, with one or two large arches on columns. They also must face north wherever possible to receive cool breezes in summer.

To fulfil standard specifications of reception areas and living rooms, they must have priority in the design decisions over service areas. In the Kiridliya house, the qa'a (1) is shifted in axis to have a better orientation with the street. The shift came at the expense of the courtyard (3) and the adjacent staircase (2) whose geometry became irregular as a result. In the Harawi house, the main qa'a (1) is slightly shifted in axis to receive exact north-south orientation for best reception of cool summer breeze. Corridors and spaces surrounding the qa'a absorb the shift. The Mustafa Ga'far house had a similar treatment of the main qa'a (1), but this time the thickness of the walls accounted for the slight rotation of the qa'a instead of adjacent spaces. The qa'a was placed transversely on the site cutting the courtyard into two halves. With this location it enjoyed ideal cross-ventilation of the favourable northern winds.

From these examples we sense the accretive nature of the design process in which decisions must have been taken at two levels. At the first level, the designer treated important spaces like qa'as as independent units. They have strict specifications, acquire best locations in the site, and have the freedom to rotate to take advantage of their locations. The second level of design decisions takes care of the less important spaces, the service areas which occupy the rest of the site and are shaped according to particularities of the remaining space. How relevant is this design method today?

Logic of the grid

Projecting the design method as a criticism of the works of Arab Modernism, we note that in the new work, the plan is thought of as a whole, in which a modular grid orders the arrangements of all spaces simultaneously. Once architects take this decision, they lose the chance to react spontaneously to any unexpected opportunity the site may offer. The module poses a mental pressure on architects to place spaces along the grid lines, to approximate orientations, to neutralize particularities of the site and to disregard conflicting influences of the surrounding environment. It stifles the creativity of architects; it discourages them from tuning the potential advantages of the site with the relative importance of spaces.

Some Arab architects even see the modular grid as an aim in itself, some take it for granted as inescapable design tool, even if it means killing creativity. How does it matter to the client if the whole house plan is governed by a uniform module? The traditional builder concentrated on individual volumes rather than the whole plan and tried to excel in sharpening the quality of living in the spaces. He used the circumstances of the site to the advantage of each main living space and according to the nature of its specifications. The result is directly reflected on the user's experience in these spaces rather than on a two-dimensional image.

With this criticism, I should not be understood to be advocating traditional design method in modern architecture, but rather using such analysis as a critical device for analyzing contemporary mediocrity. It should help generate debates and theoretical positions, and eventually perhaps a debate in architecture will emerge particular to Arab cultures. It is important to build such a discussion if we want history to become no longer alien but a source for innovation.

Privacy in courtyard houses: alienated history

Examples of alienated history are many, the most common of which is to be found in the use of courtyard. To many Arab architects, the traditional courtyard means privacy. In current design, the notion may not be so necessary, yet it is still cherished as a design criterion. For example, why should a house in a large private agricultural estate full of citrus trees have a courtyard pierced in the middle with very little fenestration towards the estate? Such an inward looking plan does not make sense in this site for the house is only surrounded by orchards. But in the past, courts made sense in houses in dense urban fabrics with close neighhours. Wouldn't it have been more logical to open up the orchard house as much as possible to the panoramic view of the fields beyond? The problem in this plan is very common among Arab architects: original meanings associated with old forms stand in sharp conflict with new settings.

In a similar situation, Hassan Fathy located the courtyard along the exterior wall of the house with the windows overlooking the agricultural estate acres of green fields. Hassan Fathy's courtyard is not exactly a historic type. Retained from history are environmental advantages because of their continuing validity; discarded is the figure's social intention, related to privacy, for it is no longer needed.

Does not Fathy's position make of history a valid concept for present use? Is not the house a result of inquisitive consciousness? A consciousness that calls for interaction with the surrounding environment, even if it implies adding new meaning to historic type. Does not every new situation require particular handling?

Al-Dera development

Similar to the courtyard problem is the medieval urban fabric of Arab cities. This traditional fabric, composed of public spaces, narrow bending streets and cul-de-sacs, poses a challenge to architects who would like to copy it in their large development projects. The challenge lies in the necessary consideration of car circulation with this historic type of fabric. The usual solution is to exclude cars from entering the site through the presence of parking lots on its peripheries, while keeping narrow irregular alleys and public spaces only for pedestrians. In this way a comfortable environment is preserved for the project in terms of shade, human scale and visual appeal through unfolding scenes.

In a large competition won by Rasem Badran and Abdel Halim Ibrahim this very approach was initially adopted in their scheme. The project is basically a commercial centre and occupies 8.8 hectares of prime land in the city centre of Riyadh. The solution of fully pedestrianizing an intertwined network of alleys and piazzas while keeping a car park at the corner of the site seems a logical compromise between traditional idealism and current realism. However in the context of Saudi culture, the solution was no more than image cloning cut from history and pasted on the social scene without understanding the current situation. Today local people do not favour walking much in the heat of summer (seven months of the year). The commercial centre, in this approach, offered discomfort, and so was liable to attract few customers.

The project was revised to allow cars to drive along a major spine that leads directly to the main piazza of the commercial centre. In this way, the square becomes not only a place for people to gather but also a drop-off point. Yet the presence of car path shifted to one side of the piazza and meandering with its elliptical plan does not disrupt the activities in a public space mainly intended for pedestrians. The revised solution answers the question of linkage and accessibility to the site (fundamental in urban design theory), in a manner particular to local culture. The design is very innovative in Arab practice and reflects inquisitive consciousness that probed into history and reasoned out its limitations and potential for change.(10)

Arab American University - Jenin

Another example that sought inspiration from medieval urban fabric in a very innovative manner is the Arab American University in Jenin, designed by Mohamed Khaled and Tawfiq Abu Hantash. The 25 hectares site is located some 80km north of Jerusalem and lies on a very hilly terrain. The historic idea that was borrowed was that of a main spine with continuous bent axes and public buildings located on both sides. In the campus design it was interpreted as a meandering pedestrian route lined on both sides by the academic buildings. The layout of the route appears to be organic, for the buildings are placed with shifting orientations. This organic layout is not arbitrary but is decided by the winding contours running parallel to the buildings.

Yet the campus design does not just borrow a traditional local idea, it also incorporates a traditional foreign idea. For the design offers another spine, this time formally arranged, reminiscent of the nineteenth-century Classical tradition in the West. The spine has an axial arrangement that starts with a free-standing gate of the university, and ends with a piazza containing the college hall flanked by the library and the theatre. The gate is at a low contour level, while the public space is high, and in between are intermediary piazzettas, on different levels, containing service buildings such as student centre, cafeteria and registrar. This formal arrangement is much facilitated by the contours of this portion, for the slope is gentle and cascades down uniformly. Once again the idea is harmonious with the logic of the terrain.

The campus in this way has two spines, one organic, another formal, one representing medieval Arab towns, another which represents Western Classical tradition. This duality in the design idea is appropriate for a foreign institute germinating in a local culture. The Arab American University, as suggested by the name, means foreign science absorbed by local sensibility. To tilt the design character towards one idea only, or to let one idea totally dominate the other, will not reflect the basic aspiration of people in the region, which is to mediate between differences.

The design, as it stands, depicts mediation by intentionally keeping the dual notion indecisive. The formal axis, for instance, is not completely formal. In this way, the duality as a design idea gave the project a special quality that surpassed naive imaging of local or foreign ideas. It does not only reflect theories internal to the discipline, but also projects outside its boundaries to interact with the cultural predicaments of the peoples of this region. This is far from the primitive cut and paste approach.


The process of borrowing architectural ideas (foreign or historical) is a global phenomenon. In the Arab world borrowing is usually problematic as it involves little inquisitive consciousness, and so much image cloning. In other words, it is not the outcome of a screening mechanism that results from debates, theories and criticism but a passionate move without thinking too much of the consequence.

For the past half century, this problematic condition became an Arab syndrome. Architectural practice continued to subdue itself to social aspirations through naive imaging and almost neglected a discourse, internal to the profession, that usually monitors design quality. This is true in the case of Modernism as well as revival of tradition. Both are almost unengaged with Arab intellectualism and can hardly invoke improvement on the current state of the built environment.

To produce a discourse, Arab architectural history has to be reinterpreted, by architects for architects, to generate design issues relevant to the practice. Architecture students should be encouraged to imagine traditional mind-sets, and to read the logic of historic buildings in a variety of ways. Once a tradition is established in this field, borrowing ideas becomes an advantage, not a burden on design quality.

1 Ali Mubarak, al-Khitat al-Tawfiqiya al-Jadida li Misr al Qahira wa Muduniha wa biladiha al-qadima wa al-jadida. Cairo: Bulaq Press, 1888, vol 1, pp85-86.

2 Mohammed 'Emara, 'Ali mubarak mu'arekh wa muhandis al-'umran. Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1988, pp91,93.

3 Susan Sontag, On Photography, New York: Anchor Books, 1973, p23.

4 Edward Said, The World the Text and the Critic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983, p239.

5 Edward Said, ibid, p39.

6 Edward Said, ibid, p236. Mohamed Al-Jabri, 'Ishkaliyat al-Asala wal-Mu'asara fi al-Fikr al-'Arabi al-Hadith wal-Mu'asir: Sira 'Tabaqi am Mushkil Thaqafi?' (The Problematic Tradition and Contemporaneity in Modern and Current Arab Thought: Class Struggle or Cultural Problem?) In al-Turath wa Tahadiyat al-'Asr:al-Asala wa al-Mu'asara (Tradition and Today's Challenges: Authenticity and Contemporaneity). Edited by al-Sayyid Yasin. Beirut, 1985, pp51-52.

7 Stanford Anderson, 'The Worldliness of Architecture'. Lecture given in the symposium The Postmodern Condition: Architecture, Culture, Ideology. MIT 2-3 May 1986.

8 Michael Hays, Critical Architecture between Culture and Form in Prospecta 21, 1984.

9 Ira Lapidus, Mamluk Patronage and the Arts in Egypt in Muqarnas 2 Yale University Press, 1984 (p178).

10 The project is under construction.

11 The project is under construction.

Illustration sources

5 R. Chadirji, Concepts and Influences: towards a Regionalized International Architecture 1952-1978. London, 1986.

6 K. Makiyya, Post Islamic Classicism: a Visual Essay on the Architecture of Mohamed Makiyya. London, 1990.

10 Lynne Thornton, Les orientalistes peintres voyageurs 1828-1908. Paris, 1983.

11-14 Bernard Maury, Palais et maisons du Caire, epoque Ottomane. Paris 1983.

15 Abdel Baki Ibrahim, Alam Al-Benna. April 1987.
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Title Annotation:analysis of the Arab world's practice of borrowing architectural designs from other cultures
Author:Asfour, Khaled
Publication:The Architectural Review
Date:Mar 1, 1998
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