AUTHOR: Dalila Ghodbane
CONTEXT: Guest lecture, Architecture and Urban Design Program, German University in Cairo, Egypt, 18.04.2018
KEYWORDS: Cairo, climate responsive architecture, thermal practices, ethnography, thermal knowledge
When we mention architecture and climate, especially in Egypt, we already have some examples coming in mind. Many of these include some vernacular or neo-vernacular architecture (like Siwa, Gourna, etc.). In town, we might think of mameluke/ottoman/khedivial style, sometimes modernist structures with specific architectural features. Of course, these are part of architectural heritage that is important to know, along with the architectural/design principles they convey. And as far as I understood, you had the opportunity this semester to explore this, since you’ve studied, among others, Gayer Anderson’s house (Beit al-Kritleyya).
However, how can we make use of this specific knowledge in today’s urban situations? How relevant is it in relation to today’s way of life and the multiple ideas and means of domestic comfort? In relation to today’s ways of building, of industries and economy?
Through these questions, one of the purposes is to reflect on our architectural knowledge about thermal control in buildings in the urban context of Cairo today. Most of the passive means of climate control you’ve studied is mostly based on a productive exchange between the inside and the outside. However, the city climate changed quite a lot since a century, and the relation with the air outside is most probably not the same, so, for me, there is a need to update our approach towards climate issues in architecture on several levels.