AUTHOR: Dalila Ghodbane
CONTEXT: September 13, 2021
This study is located at the intersection of architecture and the social sciences. Its core is an ethnographic investigation of how Cairo experiences and tackles urban heatwaves, which was carried out primarily by looking at people’s building practices.
The research is structured along three axes. The first consists of a historical overview of the Egyptian architectural field, based on a critical reading of articles dealing with climate issues since the first local architectural publication in 1939 and semi-structured interviews with architects working in Cairo today. The second section investigates building practices observed in Cairo, with and without an architect’s supervision. The third axis combines a survey of the means used to deal with weather conditions in nine houses and the thermal practices of their inhabitants – with data collected through participant observation.
This doctoral thesis observes how individuals manage the thermal environment in their daily lives, outside of laboratories and architecture and engineering offices. It shows that ethno-architectural enquiry needs to become a standard procedure in climatic design. By shifting the gaze from buildings to those who build and inhabit them, the dissertation challenges the architectural conceptions that structure historiography, knowledge production, and, by extension, architectural design as they are practised today.
The jury is composed as follows:
Prof. Dr. Sascha Roesler (Supervisor, Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio, Università della Svizzera italiana )
Prof. Dr. Daniela Mondini (Internal Member, Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio, Università della Svizzera italiana )
Prof. Dr. Agnès Deboulet (Professor of Sociology, Paris 8 University, LAVUE (UMR 7218), CEDEJ (Cairo, Egypt)
Prof. Dr. Marcel Vellinga (Professor of Anthropology of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University)