AUTHOR: Dalila Ghodbane
CONTEXT: Presentation at the research seminar, Orient-Institut Beirut Cairo Office, Freie Universität Berlin Cairo Office, Egypt, 13.11.2017
KEYWORDS: Cairo, climate, thermal heritage, memory, thermal practices, ethnography, thermal knowledge
The doctoral research I’m currently conducting is based on an ethnography investigating techniques of thermal control today in historical houses in Cairo. Despite the positive thermal attributes of ancient buildings, inhabitants tend to change the structures according to their requirements (mechanical cooling systems, closing openings, reorganising the space, etc.). This contradicts what experts in the field of architecture would consider as viable ways to create an adequate indoor climate with regards to heritage considerations.
Whereas these changes on heritage residential building are perceived as a loss by architectural experts, I argue that there is a continuum between scientific thermal knowledge and more diffuse forms of thermal knowledge(s), and that they are mutually constituted through time. Investigation of the variety of thermal knowledge encompasses both material aspects and building technics in the neighbourhood where the inquiry takes place.
This presentation is based on the first elements of this on-going research, that is the position of thermal issues in the domestic life and in the architects’ concerns, which paradoxically appears to be rarely a priority, considering the extreme temperatures. By extension, this question equates to explore the perception of each other’s role in the production of the built environment.