AUTHOR: Dalila Ghodbane
KEYWORDS: Islamic Cairo, thermal knowledge, heritage, expertise, environmental perception, architecture, ethnography
The research questions raised in Dalila Ghodbane's doctoral work lie at the intersection between architecture and the social sciences. By investigating thermal knowledge embedded in domestic practices in the biggest city of Africa, that is, Cairo, the purpose is to reassess contemporary architectural knowledge on climate. In order to grasp the gaps between the ‘expert’ and the ‘profane’ experience of climate in the built environment, we need to take a close look at how architectural practice positions itself within the broader scope of construction practices. Understanding what is at stake in these relations demands a thorough contextualized inquiry. Therefore, this doctoral work is based on an ethnography investigating techniques of thermal control in houses, in construction activities in different sectors, as well as in the corporation of architects in the city of Cairo. Creating a satisfying thermal environment, ranging from slight adjustments to bigger construction project, requires knowledge that, until now, remains marginalised from the field of what is recognised as architecture, but is in the centre of urban building practices.